Throwing Your Cocktails Makes You Look Like A Seasoned Mixologist

If you have ever felt the cold stainless steel of a cocktail shaker in your hands and enjoyed feeling like a suave bartender, throwing is a move you should definitely add to your arsenal. With a little care and a touch of hand-eye coordination, this cocktail mixing move of cascading the drink from one container to another can be pulled off using basic bar tools. What's more, you needn't be making any fancy cocktails either; throwing works best with staples like martinis, Manhattans, and similar drinks with a high spirit content.

Since the 1800s, the art of throwing cocktails has made its way from the United States to Cuba to Spain and has now made a comeback in bars that encourage this kind of flash and panache. As you'll see, throwing cocktails will chill your drink, give it texture, and also make a "splash" with anyone who may be watching.

Throwing cocktails: How, why and what to throw

All you need to get started are two cocktail shaker tins or pouring glasses and a hawthorn strainer. Fill one tin with ice and the cocktail ingredients before placing the strainer at a 45-degree angle inside to hold the ice in place while pouring. Next, gently strain the contents into the second tin while raising your pouring hand to create a narrow stream of liquid. Then, pour the contents back into the tin with the strainer and ice and repeat the process four or five times until the cocktail is chilled. You'll be able to feel the coldness of the cocktail in the second tin after a few pours.

With this simple maneuver, you've chilled and aerated your cocktail without diluting it. Spirit-forward drinks like martinis, that need to be served chilled and not diluted are generally stirred because shaking them would incorporate too much ice and water into the drink. Throwing allows such drinks to maintain their alcohol-heavy viscosity and slightly oily mouthfeel. If, on the other hand, your cocktail calls for fruit juices or syrups, it's best to simply shake them to incorporate all the ingredients. Try throwing a Daiquiri, with sugar, lime juice, and rum, just won't come together as well if thrown if you're technique isn't solid.

Anthony Bourdain's beloved Negronis in addition to those mentioned are great candidates of drinks beginners should throw. Of course, seasoned barkeeps can effectively toss around fruity cocktails and even wine.

The interesting history of cocktail throwing

The practice of throwing is as old as the shaker itself, with a history as colorful as the origin of the word cocktail. According to historian Jared Brown (via Imbibe Magazine), the first time the words "cocktail shaker" appeared in print — in 1869 — the technique described for the mixer was throwing, but it later lost favor to the more now-conventional shaking. However, in cloistered Cuban bars, it became a sort of signature move, particularly at the Havana bar, El Floridita.

It took a young Havana-born bartender named Miguel Boadas, who picked up the technique at El Floridita, moving to Spain and opening a cocktail bar in Barcelona, to (re)popularize the Cuban style of shaking, which was none other than the throwing technique. The now iconic Boadas bar opened its doors in 1933 and has hosted the likes of Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway. Incidentally, Hemingway also frequented El Floridita, which now has a statue of the writer standing at the bar.

For years, the technique of throwing remained relatively obscure, practiced primarily around bars in Barcelona. However, once again, it was a traveling bartender who helped revive this move when he visited New York in 2006 to meet with cocktail historians Jared Brown and Anastasia Miller. As you may have guessed, this bartender worked at Boadas. Much like the libations it mixes move from tin to tin, the practice of throwing cocktails has alternated between popular and obscure. This time around, however, the time-tested well-traveled bar technique appears to be here to stay.