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johnder

The Infamous "Hard Shake" & Japanese Cocktail Culture

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The cocktail master from Tailor, Eben Freeman did a video for New York Magazine that demonstrates the hard shake. Eben learned it from Stanislav Vadrna of Czechoslovakia who in turn learned it from the Inventor, Kazuo Ueda of Japan,

It's pretty awesome. Even more impressive watching it up close and live at Tailor.

Video is here.


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Very interesting little clip. I love seeing things like this. What are the names of the two gentlemen he references? Also, I'm curious to know why he recommends leaving the small pieces of ice that chip off during shaking in the drink. I prefer to fine strain any drink I hard shake so that it is completely smooth. Other than that, I'll definitely try to work on this shaking method in the future. Not sure it's really going to change the taste of the drink that much, but it's fun to learn new techniques anyway.


"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry

http://thehopry.com/

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i'm not sure of the slovakian gentleman, but this is the japanese man Kazuo Ueda who I believe is credited with inventing the hard shake. it's nice to finally see video....


Sandy Levine
The Oakland Art Novelty Company

sandy@TheOaklandFerndale.com www.TheOaklandFerndale.com

www.facebook.com/ArtNoveltyCompany twitter: @theoakland

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i'm not sure of the slovakian gentleman, but this is the japanese man Kazuo Ueda who I believe is credited with inventing the hard shake.  it's nice to finally see video....

Thank you. I actually did a little research and the guy's name is Stanislav Vadrna.

http://www.stanislavvadrna.com/

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fusea...iendid=10317013

http://www.talesofthecocktail.com/2007/per..._info.php?id=84


"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry

http://thehopry.com/

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Stanislav learned from Kazuo Ueda who as mentioned earlier invented that hard shake. You can actually see a modified version of the hard shake in action at Angel's Share here in NYC, but isn't close the the "real" thing that I have seen Stanislav and Eben do.

The texture of the drink show in the video is pretty amazing. I have head it a few times, and as he mentions in the video it is extremely emulsified, and there is a nice layer of very fine ice suspended in the drink that quickly dilutes.

The amazing thing about the shake is if you look at the ice after shaking, it comes out almost spherical, as the ice becomes rounded over during the shaking process, due to it hitting all four sides of the shaker in a circular motion.


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Hmmm. I feel the need for some side-by-side expermientation after the turn of the New Year.


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Hmmm.  I feel the need for some side-by-side expermientation after the turn of the New Year.

Oh, the things we do for science. I don't think that I can wait until next year. I'm thinking more like tomorrow night.


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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I'm with Sam on this one. I've heard of this and had Stan demonstrate it for me and I'm just not sold on it. Yeah its real cute motion and the ice cube coming out circular is interesting but is the drink cold enough is what I wonder. The froth on that drink didn't look all that impressive. I think only a side by side comparison is in order. Anyone up for reservations at Tailor. I seem to remember Sam discussing a sort of cocktail outing once per month a while back, perhaps this could be the first outing??

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presumably written by Mr. Kazuo Uyeda, the theory of the Hard Shake:

I Envision the process as the "square shaped" liquor swelling in a circular fashion, through mixing it with the bubbles. The bubbles would act as a cushion preventing one's tongue from direct contact with the harshness of the ingredients and liquor, leading to a smoother taste. As each of the liquor's elements comes together, the result is an added taste as well as fine-grained bubbles.

this claim just seems slightly dubious to me. i can understand that finer bubbles totally change the texture of a drink, and i'm sure that texture influences our perception of taste, but i really don't think we "taste" the bubbles.

and is it really any "smoother?" one of the "smoothest" drinks i can think of is a carefully stirred martini (especially with orange bitters and a twist). when it's really chilled and totally bubble-less, it almost has an "oily" texture -- sooo smooth.

on top of that, am i the only one who totally dispises little chips of ice in my drink? they're all crunchy and sometimes even hurt my teeth because they're too cold.

report back when you guys do the side-by-side.

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on top of that, am i the only one who totally dispises little chips of ice in my drink?  they're all crunchy and sometimes even hurt my teeth because they're too cold.

I'm right there with you. When I shake any cocktail in a shaker I always fine strain it. Even if it is a sour with a frothy egg white incorporated. I just don't find the bits of ice pleasing.


"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry

http://thehopry.com/

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Those bits of ice overly dilute sips in your mouth, and hurt my teeth.

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Over at Stephan's bitters blog he posted a video of Stanislav doing his hard shake.

Pretty amazing to see. See it here.

P.S. Look at that cool book -- Cocktail Technic


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Another pretty amazing video here.

It is a modified hard shake which is pretty interesting to watch, but the technique this guy uses overall is pretty amazing. He is so precise in his movements.


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Precise he surely is. I'd be a little miffed that he let my glass warm for nearly two minutes, myself.

So: questions. Is the idea here to produce (what for lack of a better term I'll call) circulation of the ice within the shaker? As opposed to collision as in a piston-like, back-and-forth motion? And are we to understand that only cobbler shakers and not Boston shakers will bring the hard love?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Another pretty amazing video here.

i think, if you do a little research, you'll find out that this guy is actually a robot. those engineers at sony can do some amazing things. the real give-away is during the garnishing. the engineers only set up 1 garnish for him, but he goes through the motion of garnishing the other 4 drinks with absolutely nothing -- part of the programming that they couldn't modify when they came up short on lemon peel.

in all seriousness, i'm still not conviced by this whole hard shake thing. anybody here mastered it enough to do a side-by-side comparison, yet?

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Interesting video, John. The bartenders movements are so languid, stylized and choreographed that it's almost prissy. He also doesn't seem to shake the drink very long, fast or hard considering the fact that he makes 5 drinks worth of cocktail all in one shaker.

I'm going to take the contrarian position and say that I think the Hard Shake is 90% bullcrap.

I dispute that it's possible to make the drink any colder or more well emulsified using a Hard Shake than one could do shaking hard using a standard technique. Actually, if I can use the equipment I want (all-metal Boston shaker) and the amount and kind of ice I want (1 piece "big ice" and the rest of the shaker filled with Kold-Draft) I think I can get most any drink colder than is possible with the Hard Shake.

I even think I could beat the Hard Shake's supposed advantage of producing copious ice shards. Personally, I think ice shards are a defect and tend to double-strain them out, but I usually have a tablespoon or more of slush in my strainer if I've really been shaking hard.

What the hard shake is good for, in my opinion: leaving rounded-off ice cubes behind in the shaker.

It seems to me that Japanese bartending techniques do tend to be somewhat heavy on non-functional frippery. That whole bit of carefully placing two cubes in each room temperature glass, where there is minimal contact for thermal exchange, then swirling each cube in the glass with a a special flourish before dumping the ice, carefully drying each glass and proceeding to let the glassware sit on the bar for several minutes while the Hard Shake proceeds... Well, it looks cool, there's no denying that. But I would be surprised if those glasses had any meaningful chill on them. Far more effective, if less "Japanese bartending-ish," would have been to fill the glasses with crushed ice and water, and then dump/shake-dry at the last second (more effective yet, of course, would have been storing them in a freezer or standing them on a cold plate).

Chris: most people agree that the Hard Shake requires a cobbler shaker. That said, some people think a version of the Hard Shake might be accomplished with the right metal-on-metal Boston shaker.

ETA: I want that stirring spoon.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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It's worthy of note that Eben Freeman, currently the mastermind bartender at Tailor, has meen a major source of Hard Shake information in the media.

In particular, there is a video where he discusses and demonstrates the technique here. And further discussion here.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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I'm going to take the contrarian position and say that I think the Hard Shake is 90% bullcrap. 

...

I'm with you.

The depressing thing is that that kind of flourish and 'frippery' go a long way with a lot of customers, especially in more backwater-type cocktail locales such as the one I inhabit. I'm sure it's not all that different in the lesser places in NYC and other known cocktail cities though.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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From the F&W article:

"You can make two identical drinks—one with the hard shake, one without—and serve them side by side," Freeman says. "The hard-shaken one will be colder and more integrated. The other will be less cold—you can measure the temperature with a laser thermometer—more diluted and not as balanced. How can you tell me technique doesn’t matter?"

Aside from a bit more excess -- unless I'm missing something, I think that a non-laser thermometer would work in this application -- this paragraph would seem to suggest that the main, readily apparent advantages are better integration/balance (two different things, but I'm being picky) and colder temperatures. I'll add mouthfeel as the third, based on some other comments.

So can't one of the NYers get on over to Tailor with a few friends and a thermometer, hand out score cards for the drinkers at the bar, and propose a good old fashioned competition based on blind tasting?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I love a good bit of frippery every so often. I just object when it becomes a significant part of the show, and especially if it interferes with the quality of my drink.

If someone wants to twirl the mixing tin, or if anyone ever figures out how to toss a foaming arch of booze and crushed ice between two mixing tins over their head old old school style, I'm all for it -- so long as I get a good drink.

What I think is interesting is the difference in our perspective on a lot of these Japanese bartending embelishments compared to our perspective on Vegas-style flair bartending. Vegas-style flair, with its juggled bottles and the like, is clearly understood by most of us as showy flim-flammery. Most cocktailians understand that this show doesn't contribute to the quality of the cocktail, and indeed is most often negatively associated with quality cocktails because the flair bartender is presumed to have different priorities. Japanese techniques, on the other hand, are all ostensibly aimed towards creating a better cocktail. And, because it's Japanese and has a certain mythology associated with it, many of us take as accepted fact that things like the Hard Shake produce a colder, more emulsified cocktail.


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Aside from a bit more excess -- unless I'm missing something, I think that a non-laser thermometer would work in this application -- this paragraph would seem to suggest that the main, readily apparent advantages are better integration/balance (two different things, but I'm being picky) and colder temperatures. I'll add mouthfeel as the third, based on some other comments.

Temperature is easy to evaluate. As is dilution. And froth on the top of the drink. And amount of ice shards (simply double strain).

Integration/balance and mouthfeel are subjective criteria and therefore less easy to compare, of course.

So can't one of the NYers get on over to Tailor with a few friends and a thermometer, hand out score cards for the drinkers at the bar, and propose a good old fashioned competition based on blind tasting?

I've been meaning to do a temperature comparison as soon as a high-accuracy Thermopen rises to the top of my priority list. The one time I compared temperatures side by side, it was with a relative newcomer to the Hard Shake technique and we used the same amount of ice. Mine was a little colder, as I recall. Some day, I'd like to compare, say, Eben doing the Hard Shake with his shaker and the amount of ice he likes to use versus, say, Phil with a metal-on-metal shaker and the amount of ice he likes to use.


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I'm going to take the contrarian position and say that I think the Hard Shake is 90% bullcrap. 

...

I'm with you.

Count me in on that as well, especially the claim that the ice is banging around at four different points within the shaker. I want to see that done in a transparent shaker before I'll believe it. What, is he using only one piece of ice? If one wants a hard shake, one needs to put some effort into it, not dance moves.

I've heard it said that bartenders who know a certain drink should be stirred rather than shaken sometimes have difficulty convincing the customer of this because customers usually want to see their drink shaken to be convinced that they're getting a well-made drink. I'd like to see techniques presented for "the fine stir" rather than the hard shake. It's one thing to shake the bejezzus out of a drink, but if you can impress with your stirring technique (and get the drink cold as well), then you'll have something. How about finesse instead of brute force!


Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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Japanese techniques, on the other hand, are all ostensibly aimed towards creating a better cocktail.

In the case of Mr. Ueda, I don't believe there's anything ostensible about it. When one reads his description of the hard shake, it is fairly apparent that he believes he is crafting a better cocktail. Obviously, as is discussed here, these claims may ultimately be specious, but I don't believe his intent can be impugned on the issue.

If one wants a hard shake, one needs to put some effort into it, not dance moves.

Again, in reading Ueda's own take, the hard shake is much more than simply - - well, shaking hard. The primary aim is the production of - not ice shards, which are described as a by-product - but rather "bubbles," which he believes mitigates the harshness of a drink, while lending additional complexity. Naturally, one can argue whether this is indeed accomplished, or whether lessening the alcoholic harshness of a beverage is even at this stage desirable, but the point remains that more thought is at play here than merely shaking the cocktail harder.

Also, Ueda makes clear that what instructed his development of the method was paying particular attention to economy of motion, noting that in his belief degree of shaking movement and complexity of drink are negatively correlated. Hence, most of the work done in a proper hard shake is not accomplished via the body or arms, but rather the wrists.

Have flair, frippery, and dance insinuated themselves into the hard shake of many a practitioner today? Unfortunately, that may be what many of us are seeing. Let's resist the easy path, though, of conflating this with Mr. Ueda's original methodology. Only then can we have a sound dialogue on whether the hard shake truly accomplishes all that it is made to.

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The "hard shake" got a bit of attention at the "Molecular Mixology" seminar at Tales of the Cocktail. Sonya Moore reported on it on her NRN blog (http://nrnstandardsandpours.blogspot.com/):

During the Q and A portion of the seminar, someone asked Eben Freeman about his hard shake video online and Eben actually stood up to say that was his approximation of the technique and it does not do justice for the real hard shake method. He went on to explain that the hard shake isn't about just being a fancy technique that magically create great cocktails. It's not some kind of snake oil to your cocktail ills. It has just as much to do with a way of thinking as you prepare a cocktail and the idea of being conscious of what you're shaking in your shaker....

and:

..... Eben mentioned how many bartenders are beginning to develop their own shaking styles either based on the hard shake or just from what works for them, and watching bartender do their thing ..... it's basically like a bartender signing his John Hancock on your drink. And a bartender could have several different ways he or she would shake different cocktails. That's what this whole hard shake business seemed to say to me.

Edited by alacarte (log)

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