Have you thrown any cocktails lately?

There are few things more satisfying to a cocktail aficionado than the sound of a drink being shaken over ice. Shaking cocktails is a time-honored tradition, but there is another way to mix drinks that predates this method. It’s called throwing cocktails, and bartenders across the US are beginning to embrace it


When I first heard the term, I envisioned a scene from the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail, with bartenders tossing shakers back and forth while spinning around and dancing. I was relieved to learn that is not what throwing cocktails means. To throw a cocktail means to pour it from one tumbler to another, usually with one being held high above one’s head and the other down at about waist level. 

It’s definitely an art form, but there’s a practical benefit to doing this. Bartender Nick Detrich explains: “The act of throwing produces tiny bubbles that lend a lively mouthfeel and also release aromatics. Shaking works well for fruit juices and egg whites, but it’s violent aeration can work to the detriment of certain drinks like martinis or Negronis.” The other common technique of stirring the drink, can leave them flat, since it “lends only dilution and chilling to the drink.”   

The art of throwing cocktails fell out of the favor in the US decades ago, but remained a staple of bartenders in places like Cuba and Spain. It’s slowly returning to the US in bars from Miami to San Francisco. So the next time you order a martini, you might want to ask the bartender to throw it. 

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