You might think a shaker is a shaker. You’d be wrong. In addition to the traditional styles we’ve all seen on bar tops (Cobbler, Boston, French/Parisian), there are modern versions designed to address some of the usability issues you might face when making a drink. We looked at the pros, cons, and best uses of five classic and contemporary shakers. So scoop out that ice and get mixing!
Tovolo 4-in-1 Stainless Cocktail Shaker
Lots of shakers have built-in strainers; Tovolo goes one step further by including an integrated reamer, which means you can whip up that Whiskey Sour, Margarita or Sidecar without needing to pull out your citrus juicer. The reamer is removable for when you don’t need it, but easily locks into place when you do. The shaker’s base is weighted so it remains sturdy on the bar top, and all components are dishwasher safe. When it comes to form and function, this one ticks off all the boxes. “The built-in reamer makes this a no brainer for any cocktail that uses citrus juice,” says Julie Wyrick, strategic accounts manager. “[And] the built-in strainer makes the Tovolo Shaker ideal for drinks with herbs or seeds like a Mojito or cocktails served neat.”
Pros: Built-in, removable reamer allows you to juice citrus directly into the shaker; a dimple on the inside base keeps liquid from settling on the bottom of the shaker; directional spout makes pouring easy and clean; weighted bottom feels sturdy; built-in strainer eliminates the need for a Hawthorne strainer; all components are dishwasher safe; cap doubles as jigger.
Cons: Professional bartenders may see its non-traditional design as more relevant for home cocktailians; some seeds, herbs and other ingredients may slip through larger slits on built-in strainer; reamer may not work with larger citrus fruit like grapefruit.
Best For: Home bartenders, and professional bartenders open to modern designs for bar tools.
Retail Price: $29.99
Founder Scott Tavenner and creator Michael Liebowitz point out on their website’s video that the original cocktail shaker was patented in 1884, and has been majorly due for an overhaul. Their innovation? Shaker 33. Named for the year that Prohibition was overturned, it’s made from BPA-free Tritan, with a dual strainer (for both finer and faster pours) and a locking top. “I tried many different shakers and they all seemed to either leak or get stuck together or were just too small for entertaining a crowd,” Tavenner points out. “[Shaker 33] is a joy to use and it just works; I can make 2-3 cocktails at a time so I can spend more time with my guests instead of constantly shaking cocktails.”
Pros: Large capacity allows for mixing several cocktails at one time; shaker is dishwasher safe and shatterproof; screen fits into overturned lid, preventing drips and a sticky bar top; drinks pour smoothly through strainer.
Cons: Frosted or black finishes may not appear as aesthetically pleasing as a traditional metal shaker; according to online reviews, shaker is prone to leaking; tall size makes it easier to tip over than traditional shakers; getting screen and lid to fit often takes several tries.
Best For: Casual home bartending, tailgates, travel.
Retail Price: $29.95
WMF Parisian Shaker
With its sensual curved design, stainless steel finish and 500ml capacity, this is one handsome shaker. Cocktail Kingdom founder and CEO Greg Boehm (he sells this shaker on his site) does point out that its classic style is a little finicky, though – and in need of a Hawthorne strainer for straining cocktails through the ice. (A French or Parisian shaker, by the way, is comprised of a metal bottom piece and a lid that fit together, versus a Boston shaker, which has two metal vessels that are the same size, or a metal vessel and a cocktail glass.) But, he says, “because [French shakers] have a longer throw distance (elongated length of shaker that affects shaking), you can really break up ice and get the drink nice and frosty.” Try it first with a Sidecar, which after all, did originate in Paris, he points out.
Pros: Stainless steel finish and elongated shape allow for well-chilled cocktails; shaker is dishwasher safe; you can easily measure and pour ingredients into ample-sized top section, add ice to bottom section, and pour in contents to top section.
Cons: Classic style requires use of a Hawthorne strainer; pieces can sometimes stick together after a drink is shaken; preventing spills while straining can take a little practice.
Best For: Professional bartenders and more adept home bartenders.
Retail Price: $62.95 on cocktailkingdom.com
Usagi Cobbler Shaker
The cobbler shaker is made up of three parts: a metal tin, a built-in strainer and a lid. “The Usagi Cobbler Shaker is the easiest to use and the most commonly used style, especially in Japan,” Boehm points out. “It's foolproof to use and the built-in strainer works great as well.” Usagis come in two sizes: 500ml (enough to shake up one cocktail) and 800ml (big enough for two drinks). Call the cobbler shaker a one-stop shop for cocktail shakers, with everything you need to mix great drinks – and despite the name, it’s not just for Cobblers. Since it was first patented in the 1880s, Boehm says it’s fun to use it to mix up a Tom Collins, which was created in the 1870s.
Pros: Built-in strainer eliminates the need for Hawthorne strainer; shaker is easy to use for beginner and professionals alike; stainless steel finish is dishwasher safe.
Cons: Built-in strainer piece can sometimes get stuck after cocktails are shaken; strainer may drip if cocktail is not poured quickly enough; plated finishes (copper and gold) require hand washing.
Best For: Beginners, enthusiasts and professionals.
Rabbit All-in-One Stainless Steel or Glass Cocktail Shaker
From the company that created the Rabbit corkscrew and other innovations for the wine and spirits industry comes these shakers, which are more reminiscent of travel coffee mugs (at least the stainless steel version). One is stainless steel, the other one is glass; both have an integrated strainer and a 24-ounce capacity. To use them, unscrew and remove the lid, fill with ingredients and ice, replace the lid, and shake. To strain out contents, flip open upper lid to uncover the strainer. “The shakers’ easy flip tops make them ideal for both home and professional mixologists,” notes Jessica Kluge, account coordinator for Lippe & Taylor. “When being used professionally, the glass cocktail shaker provides helpful measurement markings, which could make a busy bartender’s work easier; the stainless steel shaker boasts a sleek design for the bar, and is perhaps safer to use professionally due to its tough exterior.”
Pros: All pieces are top-rack dishwasher safe; integrated strainer eliminates need for a Hawthorne strainer; glass version has helpful markings in ounces and milliliters.
Cons: Strainer slits are rather small, and ice can easily create blockage of liquid when straining out cocktail; exterior of stainless steel model gets very cold when shaking cocktail; straining out drink is messy rather than smooth.
Best For: Novice home bartenders; tailgating; travel.
Retail Price: $20 each
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.