If you want to get technical, there are three different types of cocktail shakers: cobbler shakers, Boston shakers, and French shakers (though, in practice, few bartenders choose to use French shakers over cobbler or Boston shakers). And though the Boston shaker looks nothing like a cobbler shaker, they both functionally do the same thing: that is, mix your drinks. The best cocktail shaker, then, is the one you think is easiest to use and looks the most attractive to you. To help you figure out which type of cocktail shaker you should get, and give you a sense of what makes a French shaker different from the Boston, I’ve rounded up 22 stylish-yet-functional drink shakers that you can buy now, so you can be making margaritas, daiquiris, and mai tais by 5 p.m.
If you’re new to making cocktails or want to minimize the amount of cocktail-making gear you have in your home or on your bar cart, get a cobbler shaker. They’re the most user-friendly of the three types of cocktail shakers, in large part because you don’t need to worry about creating a tight seal before you shake. Just pour in your ingredients, put on the cap, and shake it like you’re the lost member of Outkast and it’s 2003 — though you do want to keep a hand on the top of the shaker, as a precaution against spills. These three-piece shakers also have a strainer built into the lid, so you don’t need another gadget or some crazy sense of coordination to keep ice chips out of your drink, and the cap can often do double duty as a jigger, to measure out liquids.
The cap on this all-stainless-steel cocktail shaker from OXO has measurements marked out, which means you can use the same piece of bar kit to measure and mix your drinks. (It’s also one of my personal favorites, the cocktail shaker I use at home when I’m feeling lazy and want to dirty as few glasses as possible.)
This glass and stainless-steel shaker is labeled as a “Boston” shaker, but it’s actually a cobbler. What’s nice about it are the measurements on the side for different cocktails, so you don’t actually have to memorize specific recipes. Instead, just follow the lines.
This ridged glass cocktail shaker would be right at home on a vintage-styled bar cart.
This stainless-steel cocktail shaker is finished in black nickel, which makes it almost look like enamelware.
Or this trompe l’oeil shaker tin that looks like a can of spray paint.
Boston shakers are better-suited for the slightly-more-advanced booze enthusiast or, at the very least, one who already owns a strainer. These two-piece shakers are what most professional bartenders use behind the bar, and at first blush, they seem really simple to use, since it’s just two tins that fit into each other. But that two-piece setup is exactly why Boston shakers are better suited for people already familiar with the mechanics of shaking drinks; if you don’t fit them properly and make sure the seal is tight, you will end up with a huge mess on your hands and liquid everywhere.
You also have to be careful while pouring, either using a separate strainer or letting just enough space out between the tins so that the liquid comes out but the ice stays in. Both of these tasks require a fair bit of coordination. One advantage that the Boston shaker holds over the cobbler is that it’s much easier to clean, since there aren’t any weird nooks and crannies, but that also means you can’t have as much fun with different styles.
This three-piece set from Libbey, a company that many bar professionals rely on for affordable but high-quality glassware, comes with a stainless-steel tin, a pint glass with recipes on the side, and a strainer that’ll make pouring a breeze.
The tin-on-tin Boston shaker, made of two metal glasses, is what the bartenders at Jim Meehan’s not-so-secret speakeasy PDT use, if you want to really look like a pro.
French shakers only have two pieces, like a Boston shaker, which, again, means you’ll need a strainer to serve the drink once it’s shaken — but like a cobbler shaker, the cap fits right into the tin, so you don’t have to worry about creating a perfect seal before you mix. These shakers are not common; in fact, I struggled to find options to include on this list from major retailers. But they’ve got a place in bartending history, and some folks do prefer them, so here you go.
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