How To Throw A Cocktail

Stretch your arms, steady your gaze and pull out those shaker tins, ’cause it’s time we show you how to really ‘throw down’ a drink.

By: Tiff Christie|May 9,2023

Let’s be clear from the start – when we say throw, we don’t mean we want you to hurl a Negroni at the wall (seriously, people, that is just a waste of good Campari …).

Instead, we want to show you there is another way, aside from mixing and shaking, that you can use to combine all those lovely flavours that will go into your glass. Throwing is an age-old (and, until recently, somewhat forgotten) method of mixing a drink.

You may have heard the term, a ‘Cuban Throw’, as throwing was the most common way to mix a drink in Cuban bars such as El Floridita in Havana.


Why You Want To Throw

Now the main reason that you think you want to throw is that if done correctly, it looks really cool. But aside from increasing your street cred, the main reason you need to throw is that it achieves a degree of aeration without over-diluting the drink.

Whereas stirring should not create any air bubbles, and shaking is intended to create large ones, throwing is meant to form tiny air bubbles. And these little bubbles, if done well, are there to give the drink a certain amount of texture.

Basically, throwing gives structure and body to the drink that you can’t get from stirring or shaking. It’s just a beautiful yet simple and elegant technique.

When You Want To Throw

In theory, any drink can be thrown. In practice, you are looking to throw drinks that would benefit from a certain amount of aeration.

Drinks containing wine (Vermouth) or Sherry certainly would benefit from the aeration, but the throwing also allows these liquids to release their aromatics further.

Cocktails such as a Manhattan, a Negroni and even a Martini are the perfect cocktails to throw.

What You’ll Need To Throw

Aside from the alcohol and some decent ice, throwing requires two vessels between which the drink can be thrown. The shaker tins of a Boston Shaker are the easiest to use for throwing a drink, as the thinness of the metal rim will produce a clean pour.

Additionally, you will need a strainer to hold the ice back in the top tin as you ‘throw’ the liquid into the second. A Julep Strainer is more commonly used for this as it is easier to work with than a hawthorn strainer, but the choice is up to you.

How To Throw

Throwing is one of the easiest ways to mix a drink. It has a gentle elegance that is fluid and somewhat mesmerising to watch. The drink moves from one tin down in a glistening ribbon until it lands safely in the lower tin.

Now, you’re probably not going to get it down the first time, so our advice would be to start with water and use that until you feel confident with the technique. How will you know when you are ready to work with actual alcohol? When you can hold a conversation while walking and still throw effectively… only then, my young bartender, are you anywhere close to ready …

So, Let’s Throw A Cocktail

  1. Assemble the ingredients of the drink in what will be the top tins. Add about 2/3rds ice, but not so much that the top tin is hard to control.
  2. Place your strainer into the tin at a 45-degree angle so the liquid can be poured back over the strainer.
  3. Hold the top tin high above your head with your dominant hand.
  4. Holding the lower ’catching tin’ close to the brim, between your thumb and middle finger, will allow you to take that lower tin down as far as your knees.
  5. Raise the lower tin to meet the top tin and start to pour, letting the liquid fall from high to low.
  6. Pour slowly, controlling the speed and concentrating on the tin you are lowering. To ensure it doesn’t splash, hold the bottom tin at a slight angle so the liquid hits the inside edge of the tin.
  7. Increase the distance between the tins. You should have about a third of the liquid left in the top tin when you arrive at the maximum reach.
  8. Then pour the partially mixed liquid back into the top tin and repeat the throw four to five times for the best results.

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