Spirits, juices, and syrups are essential ingredients for making cocktails. But without our precious cocktail shakers, 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. Cocktail shakers come in various types, colors, materials, and shapes. There seem to be no limits, and it pretty hard to keep an overview of all those different types of cocktail shakers.
There are four different kinds of cocktail shakers on the market: The Boston Shaker, Cobbler Shaker, Parisian (or French) Shaker, and the tin-on-tin Shaker. Some might argue that the latter somehow belongs to Boston Shaker as the only difference is the material used for the smaller cup. But honestly, this apparently insignificant difference has an immense impact on the usage of the shaker.
If you are wondering which shaker is the best for you, this article will come in handy. I talk you through the different types, materials, and shapes, and I also give recommendations on how to find the best cocktail shaker for your home bar.
Probably the best-known cocktail shaker is the Boston Shaker. So if you end up buying a Boston shaker, you are in good company. It is an absolute bar classic, especially in the US. The large shaker tin usually is made of stainless steel and the smaller, pint-sized cup of glass.
This combination can hold a large volume, which allows creating two cocktails at a time. It is also pretty straightforward to clean both parts. That saves time and hassle, and you can focus on actually mixing your drinks. The glass cup also lets you have a sneak peek at your cocktail while shaking it.
However, 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 breaks while you mix up some cocktails for friends or family, that can be super frustrating.
Easy to use
Very easy to clean
Glass can break easily when creating or breaking the seal
Can be hard to close/seal
The Cobbler shaker is another classic shaker from the golden era of cocktail making. The patent for the 3-piece Cobbler shaker already got registered in 1884. Since then, it is being used in bars all across the globe.
Today it is a common choice of aspiring home barkeepers as this type of shaker already includes a strainer, plus the lid can act as a jigger.
But this 3-piece design also has its flaws. First, the shaker usually is pretty small and can only hold one serving at a time. Secondly -and that is the more annoying one for me- it can be quite a piece of work to clean. The integrated cocktail strainer needs to be removed after each drink because it tends to get clogged by fruit pulp. That makes the cleaning process quite fiddly and time-consuming - Time you could use to mix drinks.
Very easy to use
Hard to clean due 3 piece construction
Can be hard to seal
Parisian or French Shaker
The Parisian Shaker, also called French shaker, has a beautiful and elegant design. For me, it is the most beautiful 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 also easy to handle. You might, however, have some difficulties breaking the seal as it is a full metal shaker. And its capacity is quite small, so you might need to shake up your cocktails one by one.
Easy to use
Can be cleaned easily
Can be tricky to keep the seal tight when shaking
Hands down, my overall favorite type of cocktail shaker is the tin-on-tin shaker. Its simple but effective design, excellent cooling capacity, and large volume make it a great companion when making cocktails. Shape and size are similar to the Boston Shaker.
Tin-on-tin Shakers are also very easy to clean and hard to break. This sturdiness combined with its volume makes it a great choice, also for you.
Pretty Easy to use
Very, very Easy to clean
Thanks to stainless steel, it's very durable
Pretty easy to create seal
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|
Best Cocktail Shakers - My Recommendations
Now you know the different shaker types, their pros and cons, and you can decide which one is the best cocktail shaker for you. But keep in mind, not every cocktail shaker you find on the internet is of good quality. Nowadays, more and more cheap products flood the market, especially in supermarkets and popular online marketplaces. If you need some advise on which shaker to buy, I put together a list of recommendations for you.
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 to you that my first recommendation is the Koriko shaking tins. I have a set of those weighted tins myself, and this is simply a perfect tool to shake cocktails. The mixing instrument is not only very durable but also forms 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 shake cocktails without an additional strainer or jigger. Additionally, this model also has silicone seals to ensure that you don't spill any liquid.
The size of 24oz allows shaking up to 2 drinks at once. 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 also get this shaker in black, antique copper, and "vintage". With 24oz, this shaker, too, allows to mix up two cocktails at once.
I absolutely like the elegant design of a French Shaker. If you're looking for a shaker that also looks great, have a look at it.
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 strainer and a jigger - The basic equipment for any bartender.
It is tested by professional barkeepers and a 100% high-quality solution: a durable cocktail-making set that will stay with you for a long time.
If you don't have any tools already, consider buying a set to save some bucks.
How to Use a Cocktail Shaker
As each type of cocktail shaker is a bit different and the usage can slightly vary. But don't worry, you will get used to your shaker quickly as you keep on practicing.
The steps to use your cocktail shaker to make drinks will be as following:
- 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.
- Now you can start shaking your cocktail. 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 only is 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).
- Now break the seal and open the shaker. If you're using a Boston Shaker, be very careful. This step has already led to many broken Boston Shaker glasses. If you're using a solid steel shaker, you might have some problems opening it. If that is the case, read here on 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.
Things You Should Consider When Buying a Cocktail Shaker
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 also offer the highest quality. I love solid copper shakers, for they develop a beautiful patina over time. Often, they're also handmade, which makes them even more special.
Even though Boston Shakers are pretty popular, I don't recommend them for beginners. I've seen too many accidents with the shaking glasses when trying to break the seal. I'm not saying it will happen for sure, but there's a chance.
I discussed the pros and cons of all shaker types above. Think about what is important to you to make 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?
If you're a starter, the cobbler shaker can be a good choice. It's time-consuming to clean but already 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.
If you already browsed some 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. If you intend to shake many drinks, then this is a point to consider.
How it actually 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 say, don't go too fancy. Your beautifully designed shaker should still be usable. A great combination of style and usability is the French shaker.
Volume or Capacity
Cocktail shakers come in various sizes. Usually, the capacity allows either mixing one or two drinks at a time. 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.
Level of expertise
Your experience and knowledge of how to make cocktails are another important factor. If you are a beginner, I recommend going with an easy-to-use and sturdy shaker. Either a Cobbler Shaker or a tin-on-tin shaker should be your top choice. If you ask for an ultimate recommendation for a beginner cocktail shaker, 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.
Why a Pure Copper Cocktail Shaker Makes Sense
A cocktail shaker made of solid copper is an outstanding bar tool. It's more expensive than the standard shakers but also offers significantly higher quality. Copper shakers are more robust and have better strength. That is also the reason why they're a bit heavier than their stainless steel counterparts.
Copper is 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.
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 quite some household items that can act as cocktail shaker replacements. They're not perfect, and all have their flaws, but still they're good enough in case of an emergency.