Better Tools for the Dry Shake
February 28, 2012
The "dry shake" is a technique that bartenders use to emulsify the egg in egg white drinks to give them a nice foamy head.
Before adding the ice, they put the egg white and other liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker and give it a good shake. Then they add ice and shake again.
Many bartenders also put a spring into the shaker with the liquids to help the dry shake along. This spring is taken off a Hawthorn strainer and used. This is a pain in the butt though.
Audrey Saunders (owner of New York's Pegu Club), speaking at a seminar at Tales of the Cocktail, mentioned in passing a different tool to use instead of the Hawthorn strainer spring: a cat toy.
I haven't tried it myself, but it seems there are a lot of good options out there. Some are rubber balls (would a gumball machine SuperBall work?), some are whisk-like...
And some are even shaped like springs.
Have you used these? Anything else?
I have used the hawthorne spring method, and agree that it is a pain in the butt. I have seen bartenders at Rob Roy in Seattle use the ball-shaped spring from a whisk sectioned from its handle in the dry shake as well.
Posted by: Seattleomatic | February 28, 2012 at 08:26 AM
I saw someone with a round spring-ball thing once that looked perfect. I wish I could remember who it was.
Posted by: Camper English | February 28, 2012 at 08:28 AM
My wife found me a plastic shaker for making smoothies or something. Threw away the shaker, but guard carefully the two-inch ball whisk that came inside. Fits much better than the Hawthorne spring, dishwasher safe, and easy to handle.
And no, I don't know where she got it either!
Posted by: Doug Winship | February 28, 2012 at 08:41 AM
Aha! I looked up "Ball Whisk" on Amazon and found what you're talking about.
Posted by: Camper English | February 28, 2012 at 08:46 AM
And that's the same spring-ball I was talking about above. Now to find a supply of them in bulk...
Posted by: Camper English | February 28, 2012 at 08:47 AM
If you make a Clover Leaf with Catnip instead of mint, what do you call it?
I like to use a spring for whipping cream, but haven't noticed it makes a significant difference for egg whites.
Shaking egg white drinks with a single large cube of ice instead of small cubes seems to make a bigger difference and is much less of a pain in the butt.
Posted by: erik.ellestad | February 28, 2012 at 09:28 AM
I use the spring-ball from the Blender Bottle.
Posted by: Prince of Cups | February 28, 2012 at 10:03 AM
Personally I don't use anything at all. I've tried everything from dry shaking for several minutes to pre-blending. Honestly, the difference is as near as makes no difference. I don't bother with any special tools or techniques any more.
Aside from the dry shake, sometimes I use Chris McMillian's Ramos technique where one uses little ice and shakes until the ice has all been crushed/melted.
Posted by: jellydonut | February 28, 2012 at 10:30 AM
also another technique passed down from the bartenders at Cure is to dry shake with no sugar first... then add sugar and wet shake... supposedly, the reaction between the acid and egg white creates a stiffer foam without the sugar there to get in the way... may be an interesting thing to test... I've noticed a difference, but I still think the freshness of egg white still makes the biggest effect...
Posted by: AGS | February 28, 2012 at 11:37 AM
i agree... those blender bottle balls work really well.
Posted by: AGS | February 28, 2012 at 11:38 AM
AGS - I agree. It also so much depends on the eggs. I sometimes will have eggs that foam up beautifully, then go to the store to grab some eggs and use my same methodology (dry-shake with the spring from a cheap Hawthorn strainer), and it'll be flat.
To get around this problem and have 100% great foam, I have taken a REALLY demanding production of shaking the eggs in one tin, and then the mixture in the other and then combining them at the last minute with ice. What a pain in the ol' neck, but it works pretty much all the time perfectly. Or, you can just use the hand whisker...
Oh! Bitters. Most bitters will break down egg white in a moment. I wonder what part of what's in the bitters that affects the foaming, but that bums me out when I have a flat drink.
I may try the cat toys at Liberty just to see the expressions from my customers.
Posted by: Liberty Bar | February 28, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Especially if you use the cat toys with the bell in the middle.
Posted by: Camper English | February 28, 2012 at 04:59 PM
What seems to work best for me is just 'dry shaking' it with 1 ice cube. After that just shake it vigorously with the entire shaker filled with ice. Clover Club and Sours haven never looked that great!
Posted by: Remco Babay | February 29, 2012 at 01:33 AM
What size egg do most of you use? Small, Medium, Large or Extra Large? It seems that you don't want a lot of white, otherwise the drink is too "eggy".
Posted by: Blair Frodelius | February 29, 2012 at 05:50 AM
In many bars now I see bartenders using egg whites in a maple syrup dispenser so they can use just 1/4 - 1/2 ounce or so. At home I tend to use just part of a medium egg white.
Posted by: Camper English | February 29, 2012 at 06:36 AM
Someplace I read (Blumenthal, maybe) that an egg white has enough proteins to hold several times its own volume of water in foam, the order of 15-20x, it is just a matter of the time taken to whip air into the mixture.
With separated egg whites (separated and strained prior to the beginning the shift), I see about a 1/2oz measure. I don't know if anyone's prep calls for pre-watering the egg whites or for varying the amount based on the other ingredients in the cocktail.
Posted by: Prince of Cups | February 29, 2012 at 07:26 AM