Cocktail shakers are both a fun and effective way to mix a cocktail! This article will walk you through all aspects of choosing and using a cocktail shaker, hopefully answering any and all questions you have.
Table of contents, if you’d like to jump to certain sections:
Let’s Start With the Easier Stuff. What is a Cocktail Shaker?
A cocktail shaker is a container where you can combine all ingredients of a drink (liquor, mixers, ice, fruit) and shake to thoroughly mix them together. There are different styles, but they all have openings that’ll seal tightly when shaking to prevent any leakage.
Why Use a Cocktail Shaker?
It’s not just to look cool! Although we must admit they do make people look pretty cool. Basically, a cocktail shaker thoroughly mixes all your ingredients together and cools your drink at the same time.
You may know of the age-old debate: shaken or stirred? The truth is there is no one answer, as everyone has a different preference, and the methods affect your drink differently.
A big benefit of using a shaker is that the ice inside cools down your drink to a refreshing temperature. This happens fast, too. The liquid passes over the ice so rapidly when you shake it that the cooling process happens in a matter of seconds.
You also get the perfect amount of dilution – not too much, not too little. The ice will melt slightly as you shake it, and that’s not a bad thing. Most cocktails taste better (less strong) with that small bit of cool water added.
What’s Their History?
Before the modern cocktail shaker existed, mixed drinks were made by one of two methods: either by stirring or by pouring the liquids from one cup to the other. One inventive bartender decided that if you could just put the two cups together, and shake, the mixing would be much more effective and there would be significantly less alcohol spilled. A win-win for everyone. This likely occurred in the early 1800s, and the mid-1800s gave rise to the cocktail shaker we’re familiar with today.
Types of Cocktail Shakers
There are three traditional types of cocktail shakers: Boston, Cobbler, and Parisian. They of course all have their pros and cons, as outlined below.
Boston Shaker vs. Cobbler Shaker vs. Parisian Shaker
Boston Style Shaker
The Boston cocktail shaker is perhaps the oldest and most “traditional” style, as it simply uses two cups that fit together to hold the ingredients inside. Often it will be one glass and one metal container, although sometimes they will both be metal. They have slightly different sized rims so that one can fit inside the other. This fit creates a tight seal to prevent your drink from leaking everywhere while you shake it. That said, it takes some practice to learn how to create the perfect seal.
Cobbler Style Shaker
The Cobbler shaker consists of three parts: the body, the cap, and the strainer. The cap often doubles as a jigger, meaning you don’t need a separate measuring device. One downside of the Cobbler shaker is that they have the tendency to be hard to open.
Parisian (French) Style Shaker
The Parisian style (also called French style) cocktail shaker is similar to the Cobbler, except it consists of just two parts: the body and the lid. They fit tightly together to prevent leaking while in use. The downside is that this style often doesn’t come with a built-in strainer, so you’ll need to have one separately.
How Do I Know Which Cocktail Shaker Is Right For Me?
What kind of cocktail shaker should you get? Well, that totally depends on your preferences and what you want out of one. If you’re tired of shakers that get stuck, you’ll want an easy-to-open one. If you’re looking for something fun and elegant, there are a ton of unique options to choose from. And if you’re just looking for something simple and utilitarian, you could check out plastic options or ones that are dishwasher safe.
This cocktail shaker is sleek, easy to use, and comes with recipes and measurements printed on the glass. Making a cocktail has never been simpler!
Different Cocktail Shaking Styles
Even the method of shaking a cocktail shaker differs from person to person. Some people shake with one hand, and some people shake with two. Some hold the shaker upright, and some hold it sideways. These methods all accomplish the same thing, so as long as you find a style that’s comfortable for you and doesn’t result in your cocktail shaker leaking on you, you’re golden!
Some experienced bartenders can even do fancy flips and twirls – but we don’t recommend that unless you’re prepared to mop.
Cocktail Shaker Problems & Troubleshooting
If you use your shaker enough, you might encounter some issues with it. Here are some of the most common problems and how to solve them.
Lid Gets Stuck
If you can’t open your cocktail shaker, that’s understandably very frustrating. But it’s also very common. And there are certain styles of shakers where this is more common.
A cobbler shaker is one that’ll often give you trouble when you go to open it. This is because of *science*. The pieces are all made of metal, so when they get freezing cold, they contract. This action often makes the shaker and lid very hard to separate.
How to Fix A Stuck Lid:
Try twisting the pieces, or wiggling the lid back and forth. If that doesn’t work, try gently tapping the seam on the corner of a counter. As a last resort, you can run warm water over the seam to counter the contracting brought upon by the cold ice inside. The downside to that method is that it might warm your drink up as well.
How to Avoid A Stuck Lid:
Either invest in a cocktail shaker type that is not prone to getting stuck, or be sure to take the lid off as soon as possible after shaking. Don’t give the pieces time to fully contract.
With some shakers, leaking is inevitable. Some just leak more than others. If you’re a beginner, you might experience more leaking with a Boston-style shaker since you have to really know how to create the seal.
How to fix A Leaking Shaker:
Sometimes it’s just a matter of holding the top and bottom pieces more tightly together.
How to Avoid a Leaking Shaker:
Be sure to read reviews before buying a shaker; they’ll often disclose whether the shaker has leaking problems (but also be wary of reviews, because sometimes it’s just user error). A shaker that has a rubber ring on the lid, such as this one, often creates the tightest seal.
Cocktail Shaker Accessories: Other Things You Might Need
Making a perfect cocktail takes more than just a cocktail shaker. Here are a few other things commonly used with a shaker.
Some cocktail shakers, like the Cobbler-style, come with a built-in strainer. But others do not. If yours doesn’t have that added bonus piece, you’ll need a separate strainer to hold over the opening when you pour so your ice doesn’t end up in your glass. The Hawthorne strainer, pictured below, is by far the most commonly used and preferred.
A muddler lets you mash up any fruit or herbs you add to your cocktail shaker. People love adding berries, but they won’t add any flavor if they’re intact. A muddler breaks up the berries and releases the juice to give drinks that extra flavor.
Hopefully this has answered any and all questions about cocktails shakers and how to use them. They really are fun and easy, so grab one and get that cocktail shakin’!