If you want to make expert mixologist-level cocktails, you need a professional bartender’s tools of the trade. One tool that every home bar or bar cart should have is a really good cocktail shaker. The only question is what type of cocktail shaker to choose. There are three main different types of cocktail shakers to choose from for your home bar.
Before you go shopping for this must-have of professional bartenders, read through this handy guide detailing the different types of cocktail shakers, who they’re best for, and how to choose the right one for your cocktail artistry.
So, you have all the makings for a great cocktail, but just pouring it straight into a glass just doesn’t offer the same end result as a perfectly shaken or stirred cocktail. When shopping for a cocktail shaker, you’ll soon discover that they’re not all created equal. The type you choose should depend on factors like your mixology skill level and the types of drinks you’re making, along with a few other details.
The cobbler shaker is arguably the most popular of the three types of cocktail shakers, at least among home cocktail enthusiasts. It’s also pretty common to see cobbler shakers in bars and pubs. The cobbler is a three-piece cocktail shaker that is good for beginners and for making single drinks, such as a single martini or cosmopolitan. The three pieces include the body or tin, the strainer tool, and the lid.
The body of the cobbler shaker is pretty standard. What makes the cobbler shaker unique is that it has a built-in strainer, so there’s no clumsy handling of the strainer as you pour a drink into a cocktail glass. The ease of use also makes this the best cocktail shaker for those just starting out and getting comfortable with shaken cocktails. The integrated strainer is also ideal for filtering out bits of fruit or pulp from certain mixed drinks.
Another perk of the cobbler shaker is its lid that can also serve double duty as a jigger (the little measuring tool that professional bartenders use to measure out the perfect shot). If you’re short on space or just like to keep it simple, the cobbler shaker will be a good fit for you.
With its simple all-in-one design, you might think that the cobbler shaker would win the hearts of bartenders and home mixologists. There are a couple of details about cobbler shakers that you could describe as flaws.
The first is that it’s great for preparing a simple, single drink at home, but if you’re entertaining, you might find the traditionally petite size to be inconvenient. When you have several friends over who are all waiting for your signature cocktail, it’s definitely easier to make more than one at a time.
The second issue with the cobbler shaker is that the holes in the strainer are of a size that lets really small bits of fruit or pulp through and easily becomes clogged with larger pieces. So, if you’re making cocktails with fresh citrus or pulpy citrus fruits, plan on cleaning it thoroughly after each pour.
And this leads us to what some say is the biggest negative of the cobbler shaker – the fact that it is the most difficult to clean. Taking the entire shaker apart and removing each piece is really the only way to thoroughly clean it between drinks. This might not be a big deal if you’re making the same drink repeatedly, but if you have one guest that wants a shaken margarita and the next wants a martini, you really need to take the time to clean it well between pours.
Bottom Line For Cobbler Shakers
They’re a great cocktail-making tool for beginning home bartenders and for someone who doesn’t plan on making larger batches of drinks. The simple design is also a space saver. This cocktail shaker is a little fussy when it comes to clean-up but does an overall great job at shaking drinks.
If you’re feeling ready to step into the big leagues and are ready to mix cocktails the same way that most bartenders prefer to do, let us introduce you to the Boston shaker. For professionals and seasoned mixologists, this is often the cocktail shaker of choice. Boston shakers are larger than their cobbler counterpart, and they have a very simple design.
The Boston shaker is also sometimes called a tin-on-tin shaker or an American-style shaker. The main component of Boston shakers is the tin, which typically holds 28-ounces of liquid. Instead of a tightly fitted lid, the Boston shaker is topped with a glass or second tin that typically holds a pint of liquid and nestles snuggly inside the tin body. Many bars use a glass topper instead of tin because it makes for a fun presentation.
One of the main perks of the two-piece Boston shaker is that it holds quite a bit more than other types of shakers, so it’s great for shaking cocktails for friends, shaking larger drinks, or if you like the little bit of bonus cocktail that remains after each pour. The two-piece design is also effortlessly easy to clean. After all, it’s basically just two tall cups put together.
With this type of cocktail shaker, you have to have a separate strainer if you don’t want to include the ice in your pour. Some consider that a plus, while others view it as a negative. It is an extra part to clean and keep track of but is easier to clean than the built-in strainer of the cobbler-style cocktail shaker.
There are a few downsides to the Boston shaker. First, you really have to push the tin and the glass together to create a tight seal. If you don’t get this part right, it can be a bit messy. Also, if you have a glass top instead of a tin top, the glass can break easily, so you don’t want to get too aggressive when you shake your cocktails. This type of cocktail shaker also requires two hands to shake, so no single-handed bartender tricks with this one (save those for the professionals only).
There’s also a bit of a trick to breaking the tight seal that forms between the two parts. If you’re using a glass top, it’s really important to master this so that you don’t accidentally break the glass or spill it all over yourself.
Bottom Line for Boston Shakers
These are excellent cocktail shakers for more experienced home mixologists, especially for making two drinks at once. The mixing glass makes for a nice presentation but can be a bit fragile. It can also be difficult to get the perfect seal at first. The Boston shaker will take up more room on your bar cart, but the parts are usually dishwasher safe, easy to clean and look professional on your home bar.
The French shaker, also called the Parisian shaker, is a bit like a marriage between the cobbler and Boston cocktail shakers. The French shaker is a two-part shaker like the Boston, but it looks similar and fits together effortlessly like the cobbler.
Most French shakers that you’ll find are made of metal or tin, with a shaker and lid that fit so well together that they often look like one seamless piece of bar equipment. You could easily say the French shaker is the most stylish shaker and looks sleek on any home bar.
Like Boston cocktail shakers, you do need a separate strainer. Like the cobbler, the two pieces form a nice tight seal without the risk of spillage or breakage. Even though it has a tighter seal, this style of cocktail shaker is typically easier to open than the cobblers, although sometimes, with really cold drinks, you might have to put a little effort into popping it open.
The downside of the Parisian shaker is that it’s on the slightly smaller side, so you can really only shake one drink at a time. You also need additional tools like a straining tool and a jigger to complete your bar set. The French cocktail shaker is also the more “elite” of the group, and by that, we mean that they’re harder to find and often significantly pricier do their elegant design when you can find them.
Bottom Line On the French Cocktail Shaker
The elegant design of this style of cocktail shakers is a real bonus if you want something that looks beautiful on your home bar. It will shake a drink nicely with little effort and zero mess. It’s easy to clean but does require a couple of extra tools. It’s also pricier, with not nearly the selection on the market that the other styles of cocktail shakers have.
Types of Materials for Cocktail Shakers
In addition to the different styles of cocktail shakers, you also want to consider the material it’s made from. Each type of material offers different benefits for mixing cocktails, plus there’s also the aesthetic appeal of how it looks on your bar.
Stainless steel is one of the most popular materials used in making cocktail shakers. It’s relatively inexpensive, durable, and works fantastically for chilling the shaken cocktails quickly. Stainless steel tin is also rustproof, so it’s going to last a long time and is also dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. If you’re sitting at a bar, it’s usually a stainless steel shaker in the bartender’s hand for all of the reasons above.
Copper is the second most popular material for a cocktail shaker and is often the first choice for the home bar cart. Copper shakers look sleek, and the color looks modern, blending into many different types of decor. Copper shakers are pretty durable, but they do require a little extra love and care to keep them looking their best. They’re not dishwasher friendly, like stainless steel, so you’ll need to hand wash this piece of bar equipment.
Glass cocktails shakers aren’t nearly as common as stainless steel or copper, but glass is becoming a more popular option, mostly because a glass shaker looks beautifully elegant and blends in with just about any type of bar decor.
Glass also has the benefit of not rusting, but you do have to take more care when using this type of cocktail shaker because of the risk of breakage. If you like your cocktails well chilled with a bit of frostiness to them, glass isn’t the best choice because it doesn’t chill as well or as fast as other materials.
Cocktail Shaker Buying Guide
When choosing a cocktail shaker, it’s easy to be tempted based on appearance alone. While you might spot a shaker that will look perfect on your bar or counter, there are a few more details to consider.
The most important factor when choosing the best cocktail shakers for your needs is style. Are you new to the art of mixing drinks in a shaker? If so, the cobbler will be your best friend. It’s easy to handle, and its smaller size means you won’t risk making a mistake with more than one drink at a time. It’s also a three-piece shaker, so it has everything you need in one.
Boston and French shakers are better for more experienced mixologists, but it really doesn’t take too long to become accustomed to using them. If you’re able, it’s a good idea to visit a store where you can actually see and hold each style in your hands to get a feel for what you like best.
There are three main types of materials for your cocktail shaker – stainless steel, copper, and glass. You’ll also find some gold options, but this is mostly aesthetic, with the gold shakers being very similar to the copper shakers.
Stainless steel is the most low maintenance of the group. It’s durable, handles all types of cocktail ingredients, and you don’t have to hand wash it unless you want to. Stainless steel also chills your drink quickly and gives it a nice frosty appearance.
Copper looks lovely and chills well but is a bit more high maintenance. Glass shakers don’t chill as well and are more fragile but make for a beautiful centerpiece on your bar.
Are you making a single drink at a time, or are you looking to make a more generous amount of your favorite cocktail? Boston shakers are a great choice for more generous pours, whereas cobbler and French shakers are a bit smaller and better suited for shaking one drink with ice at a time.
Weight and Durability
If it’s the durability you’re looking for; stainless steel wins, followed by copper. Glass is less durable for the obvious reason that it breaks easily. Something else you should consider is weight, or how it feels in your hand when you shake a cocktail. You want a shaker that’s light enough to feel comfortable, but that also has a bit of weight in your hand.
Choosing the Best Cocktail Shaker
If you like your cocktails to be shaken, not stirred, the right cocktail shaker makes all the difference. Shop around a little, try a few out if you can, and let your inner bartender guide you to the best choice for shaking and perfecting your favorite drink.