Perhaps you already came across drink recipes or instructions that tell you to perform a Dry Shake. And maybe you were wondering what that's supposed to mean and what the purpose is. First and foremost, it sounds as if you would attempt to mix nonliquid cocktail ingredients separately. But luckily, that implication is as incorrect as it is confusing. So now…
What is a Dry Shake?
A Dry Shake means shaking your cocktail at room temperature without adding ice at first. After vigorously shaking for at least 15 - 20 seconds, add ice and shake once more before pouring the drink.
Usually, you would put all ingredients - or rather those supposed to go into the shaker- together with the ice. Then you would shake for a few seconds until the contents are well-chilled, and that's it. Consequently, that is called a wet shake.
When to do it?
A Dry Shake always is required in recipes that include egg white or the vegan alternative, aquafaba. When shaken right, both of them will create a beautifully frothy, silky, white foam on top of your cocktail.
These eggwhite or aquafaba foams are usually part of Sour cocktails, such as a Whiskey Sour, Rum Sour, or Gin Sour. -If you want to try something a little more unusual, a Mezcal Sour is also a brilliant example of how to improve your drink with egg white.
In case you are concerned about using raw egg white, don't worry. That's why it's so popular with Sour drinks because the acid cooks the egg white just enough to get rid of bacteria.
What happens when I dry shake?
Shaking a cocktail without ice facilitates emulsifying the egg white or the aquafaba. Leaving off the ice cubes also helps create the tiny air bubbles in the cocktail responsible for the nice frothy texture.
You can create foam with a wet shake only, but you will have to shake your cocktail a lot longer, and the foam still won't have that nice, firm, mousse-like texture. The big, chunky ice cubes hurl around in your shaker so that not enough bubbles can build up. With a Dry Shake, your cocktail mixture can develop all those small froth bubbles, and we get a textbook-perfect Sour cocktail.
How to get the perfect foam?
To perform the optimal Dry Shake, add all liquid ingredients of your cocktail to the shaker, including the egg white or aquafaba, but without ice.
Now shake your drink for at least 15-20 seconds. If you're not used to shaking drinks, extend that to 20 -30 seconds to make sure you get the foam right. And be careful here as cocktail shakers have a tendency to open and leak when not chilled by ice. Therefore, press the shaker tins together while doing a dry shake.
Finally, open the shaker, add ice, wet shake for another 10 - 15 seconds and strain the drink into a previously chilled cocktail glass. It will develop a fluffy, silky, beautiful foam within a few moments.
Extra tip: make use of the spring from your Hawthrone Strainer by removing it and putting it into the shaker, as well. It makes for an even better foam.
Reverse Dry Shake
Some prefer to use a slightly different method for creating foams, the Reverse Dry Shake.
Reversing a Dry Shake means that you first shake your cocktail with ice like you usually would. Then you remove the ice, which works best with a two tin shaker (you can also check out the different types of cocktail shakers). You open the shaker, having the contents in the larger tin, and strain them into the smaller one, leaving the ice in the big piece.
Remove the ice perform the dry shake now. Then strain your drink into your cocktail glass.
The reason for changing the order is that the bulkiness of the ice cubes will reduce the mousse-like texture of the egg white and reduce its frothiness.
What is better? Dry Shake or Reverse?
De facto, you usually get more foam with the Reverse Dry Shake. Nonetheless, I 100% prefer the classic method: Dry Shake first, Wet Shake second. It's easy to do with all types of shakers, and the cocktail is ice cold at the time of pouring. Also, I find the amount and consistency of foam with the classic method, especially when using the strainer spring, are just perfect.
Depending on the glassware, it's never less than 0.5 to 1inch but also not more than 2inches. It's also firm enough to put your garnish or bitters on top. And that's exactly what I want. More foam may look impressive but, it's unpleasant when actually drinking your cocktail because you end up with a mouth full of egg white instead of half foam half liquid. Plus, the bubbles often are so loose that they can't hold your garnish.
However, if, for some reason, you don't get the desired result with the classic method, try the reversed alternative.