Shake Strain Done #BookReview #cocktailbook @voraciousbooks @littlebrown @jmhirsch #shakestraindone #bookworm

Synopsis from Little, Brown and Company:

Revolutionize the way you drink at home with simple recipes and common ingredients — no obscure liquors or fussy techniques needed — from the editorial director of Milk Street, J.M. Hirsch.

Are you done with generic gin and tonics, mediocre Manhattans and basic martinis? You can use pantry staples and basic liquors to produce more than 200 game-changing craft cocktails worthy of a seat at the bar.

Many cocktail books call for hard-to-find ingredients and complicated techniques that can frustrate home cocktail makers. Shake Strain Done shows a better way:

  • If you can shake, strain, stir and turn on a blender, you can make great cocktails.
  • No tedious secondary recipes hidden between the lines.
  • No mysteries. You’ll know what each drink will taste like before you pick up a bottle.
  • No fancy equipment needed. A shaker, strainer and spoon are as exotic as it gets.
  • The ingredients are mostly pantry and bar staples–things you already have on hand.

Every drink is rated by its characteristics — Warm, Refreshing, Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Fruity, Herbal, Creamy, Spicy, Strong and Smoky — to help expand your horizons and find more drinks to love.

These are drinks with the sophistication of a high-end speakeasy, minus the fuss, like:

  • The Sazerac 2.0 – a spice cabinet update that takes the classic back to its origins
  • A new White Russian that lightens the load with coconut water instead of cream
  • A grownup Singapore Sling that’s fruity without tasting like fruit punch
  • A Scorched Margarita that uses the broiler to char those lemons and limes
  • A feisty new Gin and Tonic in which black pepper is the star ingredient
  • And plenty of originals, like the Pooh Bear. Butter, honey and bourbon? Yes, please! And Mistakes Were Made, for tiki time


Hi Everyone! Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you are getting ready to put up your Christmas tree! I have just done it 2 days ago. This year’s thanksgiving was different for me compared to previous years. In previous years my family and I drove to Florida to reunite with my parents, but this year, due to Covid-19, we decided to stay home. My neighbor who is also my new friend wanted us to celebrate thanksgiving together because her family also forgo traveling. I took advantage of the get together and decided to try out making mixed drinks for the first time in my life at their house!

I was gifted Shake Strain Done by J. M. Hirsch and published on 11/3/2020 by Voracious Books, which is an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. This book has many recipes to help even novice like me craft delicious cocktails at home. This cocktail book was very helpful and promised that no special equipment was needed to make the drinks. I purchased my very first cocktail shaker kit on Amazon. While reading Shake Strain Done, I learned which measuring cup I need to buy, which was inexpensive on Amazon as well. Below are some pictures of my adventures.

These are ingredients to make Drain the Swamp.

Cute little measuring cup that measure in ounces.

It warms my throat on its way down. It’s a little bitter and sweet.

This drink was called The Rumbles. My neighbor drank this. She enjoyed it.

This drink was called OG&T. It’s Gin & Tonic with a twist. My neighbor drank this cup. He loved it.

So above are drinks my neighbor and I made on Thanksgiving Day. I only tried one drink because I’m not very good at drinking alcohol. I love making the mixed drinks. The recipes were easy to follow and the ingredients were easy to find. 

Below I attempted at making the good old fashioned Gin & Tonic because in many books I read, one I clearly recalled was Goodnight Beautiful, where Annie ordered a Gin & Tonic each and every time she entered a bar. I am curious how it taste and dying to try one so badly. So, I made it to drink with my lamb chop lunch on Saturday. It’s definitely an acquired taste and I have yet to acquire the taste for alcohol haha.. It’s so bitter for me. Though, I should point out that I lessened the Gin from 3oz to 2oz and the tonic from 4oz to 3oz. I’m not sure if that changes the taste. At this stage, I would prefer to drink Drain the Swamp, which was my drink on Thanksgiving Day.

Ingredients to make Gin & Tonic with measuring cup to measure out the gin and tonic water.

The drink looks delicious. I’m using the special Hexagon Duralex Tumbler. (See separate review for this cup).

This cocktail book, Shake Strain Done, I do recommend you to buy this book! It has more than 200 recipes. The beginning of the book was informative because the author explained what’s all in a cocktail. The taste can be described as “refreshing, creamy, fruity, sweet, sour, herbal, bitter, spicy, smoky, warm, and strong.” Gin & Tonic is under Refreshing. There are pages of diagrams that list out the different drink names and what it tastes like. The drink I made Drain the Swamp was categorize as refreshing/fruity and sweet/sour.

At each recipe, there’s a little story that tells you about the drink with additional advice on what to do if you are feeling fancy and want to bring your drink to the next level. I love the basic chapter with explanations on the different tools to make the cocktails. I like how the drinks are organized by Brandy, Gin, Rum, Tequila, etc and recipes to make different drinks by each bottle. I chose Gin because I heard so much about it in my fiction reads. At first I was disappointed that the drinks were in illustrations next to the recipes but then when I made Drain the Swamp, I was amazed how accurate the illustration was to the real drink in front of me! 

Shake Strain Done is a handsome looking cocktail book. Each page where each recipe rested has a name of the drink at the top, an illustration of how the drink will look like, a write up about the drink, the recipe, and how to mix them together either using a shaker or a wine glass, etc. Then there’s that category of whether it will taste refreshing, fruity, sweet, etc. I am looking forward to making more drinks. Even if I can’t drink, I will definitely be the best host!

Update: Tonight 12/4/20, I made mojito and loved it. I drink it with my pepper beef dinner following the recipe from The Full Plate cookbook. I’m using homegrown mint. The cup holding my drink is called Duralex Hexagon Tumbler. This drink tastes sour and herbal. Love it!

Buy it here for free shipping: Book Depository or Little, Brown’s website 

About the Author:

J.M. Hirsch is a James Beard Award-winning food and travel writer. He is editorial director of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street, a Boston-based food media company with a 140,000-circulation print magazine, award-winning cookbooks and public television and radio shows that reach millions of viewers and listeners. His previous cookbooks include High Flavor, Low Labor  and Beating the Lunchbox Blues. He is the former national food editor for The Associated Press and lives in New Hampshire with his son, husband and two cats. (Info obtained from Little, Brown’s website and photo obtained from the author’s Instagram account).

About Voracious Books

According to the publisher’s website, “We are Voracious: a new imprint at Little, Brown led by Editorial Director Michael Szczerban, launching our first list in Fall 2019. Our publishing interests are wide-ranging, but our books are driven by twin forces: appetite and curiosity. To us, books are a matter of passion. Our mission is to connect readers with what they love most—from politics and Instant Pots to irreverent advice and pop culture. Most of our books are illustrated, and all of them are designed to make readers pick them up and immediately engage with them. Our authors are artists, entrepreneurs, cooks, photographers, tastemakers, thought leaders, scientists, storytellers, historians, humorists—and more.”

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***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Little, Brown and Company for the opportunity to make cocktails and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.



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