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While there are lots of cocktails you can make by mixing and muddling, for many more there will need to be a whole lot of shaking going on. And to properly shake, you’ll need a proper cocktail shaker.
You may think that all cocktail shakers are the same, and the only decision you need to make is one of aesthetics, but even such a seemingly simple item comes in various forms, and there are other factors that will determine what type is best for you.
What is the difference between a two or three piece cocktail shaker?
Cocktail shakers generally come in either two pieces or three pieces. If you’re an occasional shaker that has no intention of challenging the best bartenders for cocktail-making supremacy, then it’s likely you’ll want a three-piece, often referred to as a Cobbler or Standard shaker.
These consist of a main base (also known as a ‘can’) into which the ingredients are poured, a top section that fits securely to the base and has a built in strainer, and a cap so your cocktail doesn’t fly out of the straining holes while shaking.
Why go for a Cobbler or Standard shaker?
The advantages of these shakers are that they’re leak proof, easy to use (one handed if you wish), and don’t require an additional strainer. However, to take them apart and clean them after each serve can waste valuable time for those folk with a lot of cocktails to make.
For this reason, most bartenders opt for a two-piece shaker. With these shakers, you get two cans, one slightly larger than the other.
To make your cocktail, you combine the ingredients in the smaller can and place the larger can over the top (pros often put ice in the larger one and flip it into the smaller can when combining them).
Giving the can a gentle pat will seal the cans together before you start shaking with the smaller can on top. Make sure you don’t seal the cans together too tightly as they’ll be much trickier to separate (shaking with excessive vigour will also have this effect).
You’ll need to use two hands to shake, and it does feel a little strange at first, but you can make much larger quantities and simply dump and rinse when you’ve finished. And with a little practice you can even strain the cocktails by separating both parts so there’s a sufficient gap between them.
When should you opt for a French shaker?
An alternative two-piece shaker is the French shaker, which is sealed in much the same way as a Cobbler, but without the built in strainer, so you’ll definitely need this as a separate item. These are often chosen for their sleek design rather than practicality.
Steel or copper shaker - which should I choose?
When it comes to material, steel is the most common choice. You’ll also see copper shakers, which some prefer for their looks, but they’ll need a bit more cleaning to keep them at their pristine best.
Traditional two-piece shakers, also known as ‘Boston shakers’, have a glass bottom part and steel top part, which has the advantage of letting you see what you’re shaking.
In this list we’ve presented options for each of these styles, ranging from the basic to those with a few fancy flourishes. Whatever your preference, any one of these should have you shaking with confidence.
Mezclar Piccolo Mini Cobbler Cocktail Shaker
If you’re looking to pick up a shaker that’s affordable and easy to use then this three-piece stainless steel Cobbler shaker makes an ideal choice.
At 600ml it’s a little more manageable than larger shakers, making it perfectly sized for solo serves of any cocktail you care to make. The bullet-like shape of its curves give it a suitably stylish appearance while its design and size make it easy to grip and shake.
Sleek and shiny, the three pieces seal together tightly and the built-in strainer makes pouring your creations a breeze. An ideal cocktail maker for the beginner and beyond.
Zone Denmark Rocks Boston Shaker
This two-piece shaker is typical of the tin-and-glass Boston look, albeit with a bit of Danish design for good measure.
A toughened glass mixing cup is joined by a thinner, lighter and larger shiny stainless steel cup that joins and releases with ease, with the two cups being stackable when empty.
Built to last, this is the ideal shaker for honing your cocktail shaking skills, allowing you to see what’s going on as the action takes place, while also being light enough that you’ll have to do a lot of shaking before your arm muscles start to feel the strain.
FLOW Barware Tin on Tin Shaker
You could argue that the 2-piece tin on tin cocktail shaker is as simple as a shaker can get.
In this instance the cans have capacities of 500ml and 800ml, which allows for large quantities of ingredients, and they can be joined, parted and rinsed at speed after just a little practice.
Stainless steel is not only ideal for creating a quick, strong seal without getting easily damaged, but it also helps keep your cocktails chilled and, of course, is booze-safe and won’t degrade over time.
Simple, maybe, but all you need to make great cocktails.
Olympia French Copper Cocktail Shaker
This 550ml capacity French shaker is copper plated and highly polished so you can see your delicious creations reflecting in its shiny surface.
With its sleek contours and radiant copper colouring it certainly stands out from the crowd and the top fits snuggly on the tall, slender can for spill-free shaking without interrupting the flow of its curves.
You’ll need a strainer to accompany this one – thankfully these are also available in copper for those who want to shake, mix and match.
BarCraft Boston 400ml Cocktail Shaker
At first glance this two-piece looks like any other glass and steel Cobbler shaker, with two cups made of tough glass and thin steel. But this is a Boston shaker designed to make cocktail mixing just that little bit easier.
Printed around the sides of the glass are measuring guides. Not only are these divided into standard volumes of ounces and millilitres, but there are also instructions and measurements marked out for six different cocktails, including Pina Colada and Cosmopolitan.
Fill with each ingredient to the relevant mark and you’ll have the perfect quantities for each serve. And to make things even easier for the novice, the glass has a strip of silicone around the rim, creating a perfect seal for leak-proof shaking.
VonShef 8 Piece Mixology Set
If you’re planning on mixing up a range of different cocktails then there are a few other pieces of kit you might need, not least a strainer if you find straining through a Boston shaker challenging.
In which case, you might want to look at a cocktail set, such as this stylish eight-piece box of stainless steel and glass goodies from VonShef.
The Boston shaker (two of the pieces) is simple and easy to use, creating a quick seal and separating easily with a twist.
The kit also includes a strainer along with a double jigger (two more of the pieces – a measuring apparatus for 25ml and 50ml volumes), a long stirring spoon with a muddler at the other end of the twisted steel handle (two pieces) and a smart, sturdy 750ml glass pitcher.
The perfect shaking, stirring and muddling kit to expand your cocktail repertoire.
Kilner 1 litre Cocktail Shaker
This big 1 litre cocktail shaker from jar-making aces Kilner is a highly practical option for anyone wishing to make a large cocktail, particularly if it’s of the colourful kind.
It’s a variation on the three-piece theme – a typically chunky and robust glass Kilner jar is fitted with a small straining pourer and cap, the latter doubling up as a measuring jigger.
It may lack the sophistication of sleeker shakers, but if you’re shaking fruits with your booze then it’ll certainly show them off at their best before pouring. Excellent for summer socials, its large capacity allows you to mix enough for several serves.
Christofle Graphik Cocktail Shaker, Silver
If you know someone who has expensive tastes, then they’ll be pleased to know that some of the world’s leading designers also get creative with cocktail shakers, adorning them with suitably expensive price tags.
Versace and Ralph Lauren are just top fashion brands with shakers in the repertories, but for the ultimate cocktail accessory we’ve opted for posh Parisian tableware designers and goldsmiths Christofle.
At close to £600 it’s not just the unique, modern take on a classic cobbler design buyers are investing in, or the minimal etched pattern that wraps around the shaker’s midriff, but they also get to brag about the polished silver-plated finish that sets it apart from mere steel, copper or glass.
And after that purchase, if they’ve got £265 spare, then they might also like to consider spending it on the matching jigger.