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What Does it Mean to Throw a Cocktail?

What Does it Mean to Throw a Cocktail?

If you’ve ever heard the term “throwing a cocktail”, you might have envisioned a tequila sunrise being chucked at the wall or a margarita all over the floor. To quickly clarify, this definitely isn’t what it means! Throwing a cocktail is actually a term used to describe a method of mixing a drink, used by mixologists when they want to chill and aerate the cocktail. It’s also a pretty cool move, so if you’re looking to impress your guests, this could be the mixing method for you.

How to Throw a Cocktail

Throwing a cocktail is gentle and elegant, with less risk involved than shaking your drinks. It’s a simple but effective method that has tons of visual appeal. 

To begin, you need two vessels to pour your cocktail between. Professionals tend to choose cocktail shakers which create a cleaner pour than mixing glasses, or glasses specifically designed for throwing. We recommend tin-on-tin cocktail shakers, which are by far the easiest vessel to pour from and have a chic look to them - particularly the Ginza Gold Shaker

Half-fill one shaker - this will become your top shaker - with ice, ensuring not to put so much in that you lose control when pouring, but enough that it chills the drink. Add your cocktail ingredients to the same shaker, and top with a Julep or Hawthorne Strainer at an angle of around 45°. You can then pour liquid out of the shaker through the strainer, but pour it back in over it. 

Hold your top shaker high above your head, and your second shaker in your other hand lower down, around your waist, hips, or thighs, depending on where feels most comfortable. Bring the second shaker up to meet the top and begin to pour, lowering the second shaker as you do so until it’s as low as you can go. 

Why Do Bartenders Throw Cocktails?

Throwing mixes and chills the cocktail at the same time, thoroughly combining the various ingredients to make the perfect drink. But it also adds oxygen to the cocktail, enticing out new aromas and notes that wouldn’t previously have been at the forefront of the flavour. It can also affect the texture and visual appearance of the drink. A martini, for example, will be lighter and frothier when thrown than when stirred or shaken, and more translucent in appearance. 

Which Cocktails Should Be Thrown?

You can throw any cocktail that can be shaken. One of the best things about throwing is that you can experiment, testing out how different drinks react and working out which you prefer stirred, shaken, or thrown. In particular, wine-based cocktails (those made with vermouth, for example) can benefit from being thrown as the aeration process strongly affects these ingredients. Other cocktails that bartenders will often enjoy throwing include:

  • Negronis
  • Manhattans

Learn More About Mixology

At UrbanBar, we know a lot more about mixology than just throwing! We’re experts in the art of crafting beautiful drinks, and we want to share our knowledge with you. That’s why you can now take part in our Educational Spirit Courses, all of which are available online and to be completed in your own time - because no one should ever rush a cocktail.

Image: Maksym Fesenko /

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