Cocktail Shakers: A Guide

A guide to cocktail shakers

Walk into any barware store and you’d be hard pressed to walk past a whole aisle of cocktail shakers in all shapes and sizes. Even places like Myer and David Jones will have more than a few to choose from. But what’s the difference between all of them?

( A ) Boston Shaker

Also known as the 2 piece shaker and probably the most commonly seen shaker set around. The Boston shaker consists of the tin (also known as the Boston tin) and the glass (also known as the Boston glass). Don’t think you can just substitute the glass with any of your regular drinking glasses, even if it looks like the same shape. That’s because the Boston glass is usually made of toughened glass to withstand the impact of ice shaking against it. The Boston glass is generally smaller than the Boston tin; the idea is that you mix all your ingredients in the glass, add the ice and use the tin cup to cover the glass at an angle before tapping it to create a tight seal. Breaking the seal does require you to know where to tap the glass (generally it is where the glass and the tin meet in a straight line); when I first started using the Boston shaker, it took a few tries to get the glass loose from the tin. That aside, the glass is great for allowing you to view its contents; useful if you are trying to check if certain ingredients have integrated.

Nowadays, instead of glass, the bottom component of the Boston shaker can also be made of tin, creating a tin on tin combination.

Line up of different cocktail shakers

( B ) Parisian Shaker

The Parisian shaker is similar to the Cobbler Shaker, except it doesn’t have the lid with the inbuilt strainer. Most have a sleek design with varying shapes (think penguins, motor cars, rocket ships) and would not look out of place as a design piece on a shelf. Like the Cobbler shaker, the two parts will generally fit tightly so there is virtually zero chance of leakage while shaking. But like the Cobbler shaker also, it can be difficult to prise open the two parts, especially when it’s cold. You will also need a separate strainer.

( C ) Cobbler Shaker

Also known as a 3 piece shaker, the cobbler shaker consists of 3 parts: the bottom container, a lid with an inbuilt strainer and a cap. Unlike the Boston shaker, the parts should fit snugly so there won’t be any danger of the contents leaking when you are shaking. As it comes with an inbuilt strainer, this is practical for those home bartenders who want an all in one contraption. The downside I’ve found is that it can be difficult to separate the lid from the bottom container, especially when cold. You won’t want to use this type of shaker if you are going to be pouring out everything (ice and all) into the glass. I’ve also found that if you are shaking a drink that has muddled fruit in it, the muddled fruit can clog up the strainer as you are pouring out the drink, so you may find yourself having to open the lid and then pouring out the contents through a separate strainer.