09 May 2012

The Post Imperial Shaker

It's been an interesting point of conversation for a while now, especially considering the incredible speed more and more innovative and accessible technologies are reaching the average bar, either pre or during service. So when will we see an end to a human bartender physically shaking a cocktail in favour of a automated mechanism…..if ever? 

There have been occurrences along the way, including paint mixers, and a bubble tea shaking machine that can be hacked for alcoholic use pretty easily. However, the most recent sightings embraces the idea but goes about it a very old fashioned way. 

It is called "The Post-Imperial Shaker" and is something you'd imagine to see equally at a steam fair and a vintage fashion show. It is based on a machine made at the turn-of-the-19th century called an "Imperial Shaker" and was originally built to be part of The Touring Pop-up Sideshow Saloon

The original "Imperial Shaker" appears amongst other illustrations in the book Recipes of American and Other Iced Drinks.

The technical side of things is explained below…

"Technically, this machine uses a flywheel driven by a hand-crank, which pushes a 'crank-slider,' or pivoting piston. At the end of the crank-slider is a carriage where two cocktail shakers live. The elliptical motion produced by the crank-slider lends itself to mixing cocktails, where a simple up/down motion would not stir the ingredients as much."

The argument really boils down to a time and a place. For many customers the "Shake" is as much part of the show and attraction as the actual drink itself. It also offers a chance for bartenders to show some of their personality and put their own spin on a time honoured tradition. 

The shaker machine, embraces a retrospective, and dare I say classier, side of bartending that is becoming more and more fashionable. One could easily make an argument that "The Post Imperial Shaker" is as much, if not more, of a spectacle as watching a man do the same job. I doubt many are expecting to see this in action behind many bars anytime soon, and the mechanical version even less so however the value and attraction for a specific event or place is obvious. 

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