Spirits, juices, and syrups are essential ingredients for making cocktails. But without a proper cocktail shaker, there wouldn't be any cocktails for us to sip.
Every bar and restaurant serving cocktails relies on them to mix and blend the ingredients of their drinks.
There are four different types of cocktail shakers on the market: The Boston Shaker, the Cobbler Shaker, the Parisian (or French) Shaker, and the Tin-on-Tin Shaker.
Some might argue that the last one basically is a Boston Shaker, as the only difference is the material used for the smaller cup. However, this seemingly insignificant difference has an immense impact on the usage of the shaker.
If you are wondering which shaker is best for you, you came to the right place. I go through all the different types, materials, and shapes and show you how to choose the best cocktail shaker for your home bar.
The Different Cocktail Shaker Types Explained (Pros & Cons)
1. Boston Shaker
Probably the best-known and most common cocktail shaker is the Boston Shaker. So, if you decide on a Boston shaker, you are in good company. It is an absolute bar classic, especially in the United States.
Usually, the large shaker tin is made of stainless steel, and the smaller, pint-sized cup of glass. This combination can hold a large volume, allowing one to mix two cocktails at once.
It is also pretty simple to clean both parts. That's a significant factor because it saves time and hassle, and you can focus on mixing your drinks.
The glass cup of the Boston Shaker also allows you a sneak peek at your cocktail while shaking it.
Yet, at the same time, the glass is also the biggest downside of the Boston Shaker. It tends to break easily, especially when creating or breaking the seal before and after shaking.
If it is the only shaker you have, and it would break while you mix up some cocktails for friends or family, that will be super frustrating. -Frankly, even if you had a spare shaker, it would be quite annoying.
- Easy to use
- Very easy to clean
- Glass can break easily when creating or breaking the seal
- Gard to close/seal
Who should choose it?
This two-piece shaker is best for professional bartenders or advanced home bartenders. The shaker is easy to clean and elegant, and once you know how to work with it, it's also easy to use. The biggest issue is the mixing glass, as it tends to crack under pressure and sometimes makes it hard to seal a shaker.
2. Cobbler Shaker
The Cobbler shaker has a built-in strainer and is another classic shaker from the golden era of cocktail making. The patent for the 3-piece Cobbler shaker was registered usually in 1884. Since then, it has been a staple in bars all across the globe.
Today it is a common choice of beginners in home bartending because this type of shaker already includes a strainer. Plus, the cap or lid can act as a jigger.
But this three-piece shaker design also has its flaws. First, the shaker usually has a pretty small volume. It can only hold one serving at a time. Secondly - that makes it more annoying for me- it can be quite a piece of work to clean.
You need to remove and clean the built-in strainer after each drink because it tends to get clogged by fruit pulp. That makes the cleanup process quite fiddly and time-consuming - Time you could use to mix drinks.
- Very easy to use
- Hard to clean due 3 piece construction
- Hard to seal
Who should choose it?
People new to bartending don't want to buy lots of additional equipment like a Hawthorne strainer or jigger.
3. Parisian or French Shaker
The Parisian Shaker, also called French Shaker, has a beautiful and elegant design which is the main reason why its popularity has increased in the past years. Aesthetically, it is the most appealing type of cocktail shaker you can get for your home bar.
It consists of two parts, both made of stainless steel. They are easy to clean and easy to handle.
You might, however, encounter some difficulties breaking the seal as it is a full metal shaker. And its capacity is relatively small, so you will mostly need to shake up your cocktails one by one.
- Easy to use
- Easy to clean
- Very durable
- Tricky to keep the seal tight when shaking
Who should choose it?
Aspiring bartenders who look for a stylish cocktail shaker that's also quite versatile and easy to use.
4. Tin-on-Tin Shaker
Hands down, my overall favorite style of cocktail shaker is the tin-on-tin shaker.
Its simple but effective metal tin design, excellent cooling capacity, and large volume make it a great companion when making cocktails. Shape and size are similar to the Boston Shaker, yet the all-metal large and small tins are easier to seal.
Tin-on-tin Shakers are also very easy to clean and almost impossible to break. This sturdiness, combined with its volume, makes it a fantastic choice.
- Pretty Easy to use
- Very, very Easy to clean
- Thanks to stainless steel, it's very durable
- Pretty easy to create a seal
Who should choose it?
Professionals and aspiring home bartenders who are looking for the most sturdy and easy-to-use shaker.
The Different Types of Cocktail Shakers - Overview
|Boston Shaker||Cobbler Shaker||Parisian Shaker||Tin on Tin Shaker|
|Ease of use||Easy||Easy||Easy||Easy|
|Easy to clean||Very easy||Hard||Easy||Very Easy|
|Easy to create / break seal||Medium||Medium||Medium||Very Easy|
|Durability||Medium||Very durable||Very durable||Very durable|
Recommendations: Best Cocktail Shakers
Now you know the different cocktail shaker types, and their pros and cons, and you can decide which is the best cocktail shaker for you.
Yet, keep in mind that not every cocktail shaker you find on the internet is of good quality.
Nowadays, more cheap products flood the market, especially in supermarkets and popular online marketplaces. In case you need advice on which shaker to buy, here's a list of my recommendations.
1. Koriko Shaking Tins
As I mentioned, my favorite type of cocktail shaker is the tin-on-tin shaker. So, it might not come as a surprise that my first recommendation is the Koriko shaking tins.
I have a set of those weighted tins at home, and these are simply perfect tools to shake cocktails. The mixing tins are not only very durable but also form a tight seal.
The Koriko products are favorites amongst many bartenders and are an excellent choice for aspiring mixologists.
They come in various finishes like silver, copper, or gold. No matter which one you choose, you will enjoy those quality shakers for a long time.
2. OXO Cobbler Shaker
My second recommendation is a cobbler shaker. This one from OXO is a brilliant choice for beginners. You can measure ingredients without a jigger, shake cocktails easily, and strain them without an additional Hawthorne strainer.
Additionally, the Cobbler Shaker from OXO has silicone seals to ensure you don't spill any liquid.
The size of 24 oz allows shaking up to 2 drinks at once. So, if you're looking for a quality Cobbler Shaker, this one is for you.
3. Barfly Parisian / French Shaker
This quality Parisian Shaker by Barfly comes in 6 different finishes. Besides classic color options like copper, silver, and gold, you can get this shaker in black, antique copper, and "vintage."
Holding 24 ounces, this shaker allows you to mix up two cocktails at once.
I absolutely love the elegant design of a French Shaker. If you're after an elegant shaker for your home bar, check this one out.
4. Jigger, Strainer, and Cocktail Shaker set
If you're starting from scratch, this set comes in handy. Not only will you get a great cocktail shaker, but also a solid Hawthorne strainer and a jigger - The basic equipment for any bartender.
This one was tested by professional bartenders and is a 100% high-quality solution. A durable cocktail-shaker set that will stay with you for a long time.
If you don't already have any tools, you can consider buying a set to save some bucks.
How to Use a Cocktail Shaker
Since each type of cocktail shaker is a bit different, the handling does vary slightly. But don't worry, you will get used to your shaker quickly as you practice.
The steps to use your cocktail shaker to make drinks will be as follows:
- Make sure the glass you want to pour the drink in is chilled. Just add a few ice cubes while you're shaking the cocktail.
- Measure each ingredient with the help of a jigger. This handy tool is almost as essential as your cocktail shaker. It helps with consistently creating fantastic drinks.
- Fill your shaker up with ice. Don't be shy, and add a generous amount. If you don't use enough ice, it will melt instantly and dilute your cocktail. And you don't want that.
- Close your cocktail shaker and make sure it's sealed.
- You can start shaking your cocktail now. Shake until the outside of your cocktail shaker is frosted. Usually, 10-15 seconds is enough. But there might be differences depending on the cocktail recipe. A Mai Tai is only shaken for a few seconds, while cocktails using egg white or aquafaba will need longer shaking and sometimes even a dry shake (2-step shaking process).
- Break the seal and open the shaker. If you're using a Boston Shaker, be careful with the mixing glass. This step has already led to many broken Boston Shaker glasses. If you're using a solid steel shaker, you might need more force to open it as the metal tins create tighter seals. If that is the case, read how you can open your stuck cocktail shaker.
- Remove the excess water from your cocktail glass with the help of a cocktail strainer.
- Finally, you can pour your cocktail into the glass. Use a strainer to hold back ice and fruit pulp.
7 Things to Consider When Buying a Cocktail Shaker
Whether you want to buy a French shaker, a cobbler shaker, or a Boston shaker set. When deciding on a cocktail shaker, it's not just the shape and type that matters. There are a few more factors that you should consider:
The choice of material is crucial when selecting the best cocktail shaker for your purpose. You want to invest in a quality shaker.
For me, that means either an all-steel shaker or a solid copper shaker. High-quality stainless steel shakers will not tarnish or break. They will look new for quite a long time, and you can use them for years.
Solid copper shakers are top-of-the-line. They are more pricey than stainless steel shakers but provide the highest quality.
I also love solid copper shakers for the beautiful patina they develop over time. Often, they're also handmade, which makes them even more special.
In general, I don't recommend Boston Shakers for beginners. Even though this shaker type is pretty popular, it's not the most suitable option.
I've seen too many accidents with shaking glasses when trying to break the seal. I'm not saying it will happen for sure, but there's a chance.
You've got the pros and cons of all shaker types above. Think about what is important to you for making your selection.
Do you prefer great design over usability? Sturdiness over style? Or are you just starting and want a shaker that's as easy to use as possible?
When you're new to mixology, the cobbler shaker can be a good choice. It's a bit of a pain to clean but comes with an integrated strainer and jigger.
For larger capacity, you might want to choose a tin-on-tin shaker or a Boston Shaker. And for a bit more style, opt for a Parisian Cocktail Shaker.
3. Weight of a Cocktail shaker
If you have already done some research on cocktail shakers, you might have realized that some say "weighted."
Those weighted shakers offer a great advantage. They create tighter seals and are also easier to handle when shaking. So, if you intend to shake many drinks, weight is a point you should consider.
How it works is that one of your shaker tins has an added weight at the bottom. If you don't believe this could make such a big difference, give it a try and see for yourself.
Of course, you want a reliable and easy-to-use cocktail shaker. But let's face it, design matters. There are many crazy design options with rocket shapes, football shapes, pineapples, and more.
But I suggest not to go for too fancy. Your beautifully designed shaker should still be usable. A great combination of style and usability is the French shaker.
5. Volume or Capacity
Cocktail shakers come in various sizes. Usually, the capacity allows mixing either one or two drinks in one go. If you're looking for a tool to make drinks only for yourself, a 12oz shaker already does the job. A solid 20 - 24oz cocktail shaker will allow for at least two drinks at once.
If you want to shake up even more drinks at once, look out for a shaker that has a capacity of 28oz or above.
6. Level of Expertise
Your experience and knowledge of how to make cocktails are another important factor.
If you are a beginner, I recommend an easy-to-use and sturdy shaker. Either a Cobbler Shaker or a tin-on-tin shaker should be your top choice.
My ultimate recommendation for a beginner cocktail shaker would be to go with a Cobbler. It's a great way to start making drinks without having to think much about additional tools or worry about how to open a stuck cocktail shaker.
7. Is it dishwasher-safe?
In general, all styles of cocktail shakers are dishwasher-safe. However, this only applies to basic stainless steel options. All modern, colored shakers will lose their coloring when cleaning them in a dishwasher. Dishwasher detergent is not a friend of color-platings and will mess up your shaker.
Some brands still claim that their shakers are dishwasher-safe, but in my personal experience, I can only recommend hand washing your fancy shakers.
Why pure Copper Cocktail Shakers makes sense
A cocktail shaker made of solid copper is an outstanding bar tool. It's more expensive than the standard shakers but provides significantly higher quality.
Copper shakers are more robust and have better strength. That is also why they're a bit heavier than their stainless steel counterparts.
Copper has been used for a long time already to hold water. It has anti-corrosive properties and also cools down cocktails quicker than other materials. For me, that and the beautiful patina it develops are the main reasons to select a solid copper shaker.
The history of the cocktail shaker
The history of mixing drinks to dilute spirits and blend flavors dates back to 7.000 B.C. Here's a brief overview of the most important dates to sum up the evolution of this indispensable bartending tool:
- Ancient Times (7000 B.C.): Traces of alcohol-containing gourd fragments found in South America suggest early mixing of drinks.
- 1520: Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez mentions cacao mixtures made in a "golden cylinder-shaped container."
- The mid-1800s: The evolution of cocktail shaker from simpler mixing methods begins.
- 1848: George Foster, a reporter, documents the practice of cocktail shaking.
- Late 19th Century: Emergence of three distinct shaker types - French, Boston, and Cobbler.
- 1884: Edward Hauck introduces the cobbler shaker, an all-in-one mixing tool.
- 1913: The invention of stainless steel becomes a preferred material for cocktail shakers.
- 1920s: Stainless steel gains widespread acceptance for its rust-resistant and durable qualities.
Don't have a Cocktail Shaker at home?
Some of you might not have a cocktail shaker at home but still want to shake up some refreshing drinks. Don't worry, there's a solution for this.
There are several household items that can act as cocktail shaker replacements. They're not ideal, and all have flaws, but they're good enough in an emergency.