Whether your go-to order is a Jack and Ginger or a Bulleit Sour with an egg white, up, and a flag of cherries, there’s room in your home for a better cocktail shaker. My fiancé and I definitely fall into the latter category; cocktails are works of art in our home.
Ever since we met over seven years ago, our favorite date night activity has been trying new craft cocktail bars. When the pandemic forced us to bring our beloved pastime home, we stocked up on obscure bitters and liqueurs, mastered our egg-white foam, and upgraded a few of our bar cart essentials—starting with our cocktail shaker.
Buying a cocktail shaker might seem easy, but choosing the right one matters. Not only can a shaker affect the taste of your beverage—especially if you picked a low-quality option that’ll easily rust—but you need to keep your booze from spilling all over your kitchen after a hard shake. (Yup, it’s happened to me. No, I don’t want to talk about it.)
To decide which shaker is best for you, here’s a brief 101 on the shaking landscape and six bartender-approved shakers. Bottoms up!
What Kind of Cocktail Shaker Should You Get?
At first blush, shakers might seem like a one-style-suits-all bar accessory. But, while they tend to yield similar results, you’ll need to pick among three common styles: Boston, Parisian, or cobbler.
Boston shaker is comprised of two pieces that fit into one another and require additional strainers to strain the finished cocktail. “These have become the most common [in] modern bartending—especially in America,” Ramsey Musk, a beverage director in Los Angeles, said. “They can be metal and glass, or two tins.” (Pro tip: Though sealing the two tins together is easier than you’d think, cracking them open can be tricky. Hold the bottom, larger tin firmly, then tap the top tin to break the seal. Like this.)
If you’re looking for a shaker that can do it all and don’t want to trouble yourself with buying a strainer, a cobbler is your best bet. “The cobbler is great for those who don't have bar tools or strainers at home,” Musk said. They are three pieces: a body, a top, and a cap. The “top” doubles as a built-in strainer, which the “cap” covers as you shake. To pour, uncover the top, and strain your drink without fuss.
Parisian shakers are a two-piece cross between the two-piece Boston and three-piece cobbler shakers. Though this type requires both a learning curve since they have multiple pieces and a strainer that fits–whether a Hawthorne or a Julep–Musk says they can be pretty efficient once you get the hang of them.
Now that you know the difference, it’s time to decide. Here’s what mixologists have on hand when shaking up something scrumptious.
6 Pro Picks Worth Your Time
According to Musk, it doesn’t get better than a classic Boston shaker. “My go-to for bartending [is a set of] Koriko® tins,” he said. “They are weighted, so they feel good in my hands, and they’re rather user-friendly when you get the hang of cracking the tins.” For the perfect seal, pair the large Koriko tin with its smaller twin.
For a cobbler shaker that looks just as good as it operates, reach for the BIRDY. At almost $100, this option isn't cheap, but its fans think it’s well worth the investment. Just ask Jamie Boudreau, owner of the famous Seattle bar, Canon. Boudreau said the gadget is “beautifully balanced, never sticks, feels great in the hand, and [is] lightweight, yet sturdy.”
3. Cocktail Emporium Parisian Shaker, $18.32
Budding bartenders will find a lot to love about the Cocktail Emporium’s Parisian shaker, which has received top marks from Amy Traynor, the content creator behind the Moody Mixologist. “I find this shaker is easier to handle and more comfortable than a standard Boston two-piece—especially for those with smaller hands,” she said. “Its 20-ounce capacity is also better suited to the home bartender who's only shaking up a drink or two at a time.” And, thanks to its stainless-steel construction, this Parisian shaker should hold up nicely after many rounds of drinks.
4. Godinger Dublin Cocktail Shaker, $24.95
Rachael Green—founder of Rach Green Cocktails—spends her days whipping up tasty libations for her virtual gatherings and social media feeds. For a cobbler-style option that gets the job done and looks good doing it, she reaches for Godinger’s Dublin crystal shaker. She loves that the lid has ounce markings so you can measure ingredients in your drink and that the shaker has no shortage of style.
Green does admit it takes a bit of a learning curve to use, though. “Make sure you have a firm grip, because it is heavy, and can leak if you don't have a firm seal on it,” she advised. ”But it looks beautiful for my events and my content.”
Want to keep your espresso martini colder for longer? Green also recommends this insulated cobbler-style model from Simple Modern. “You can take drinks to go, which is one of my favorite parts,” she said. In addition to its temperature-regulating, vacuum construction, this option is leak-proof and has a built-in jigger in its lid. Best of all, it’s available in several fun colors, so you can proudly show it off on your bar cart.
6. Waterford’s Mixology Circon Cocktail Shaker, $186.99
Cocktail connoisseurs on the hunt for a high-function, high-style shaker built to last? Waterford has you covered. Its eponymous, famous crystal makes its Mixology Circon Cocktail Shaker a splurge-worthy accessory. Natalie Migliarini, founder of Beautiful Booze, said it ticks off all of the boxes, and then some. “For me, this cocktail shaker is a showpiece that is perfectly functional, yet still looks amazing in action.”
Now that you have a pro-approved shaker, it’s time to pick your drink of choice. Don’t know what to mix? Check out some of our favorite libations that are worthy of a second round.