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Shaken, or stirred? If it’s the former, you’ll need a sturdy cocktail shaker. “Essentially, there are three different styles of cocktail shakers: glass-on-tin Boston, tin-on-tin Boston or cobbler,” explains Brandon Lockman, lead bartender at Portland’s Red Star Tavern.
The Boston shakers are made of two, 12- and 28-ounce mixing tins, either with one glass shaker and one tin (glass-on-tin), or two tins (tin-on-tin). They fit inside each other, while the liquid creates a natural seal, and a quick shake will cool down the drink with ease. “I’ve been using the Koriko tin-on-tin Boston shaker for the last 10 to 12 years,” says Lockman. “It chills faster and has a better seal than glass-on-tin and doesn’t get stuck as easily as the Cobbler.”
The cobbler shaker is made up of three parts: a tin, a top with a built-in strainer, and a cap. It’s a favorite among home bartenders for its ease of use, but professional bartenders will say the top leaks and can be difficult to remove when chilled, making it inefficient for busy services. As for the Parisian shaker, Lockman says it’s “a Cobbler without the cap.”
Below, top bartenders share their picks of the best cocktail shakers.
Best Overall: Cocktail Kingdom Koriko Shaking Tins
“The Cocktail Kingdom Koriko weighted tins are very nearly the industry standard for a reason,” explains Cameron Shaw, bar specialist at New York’s Lot 15, nestled in the back of the Kixby Hotel. “They are durable, and the relatively thin walls of the tins ensure that they form a good, tight seal from day one.” He also doesn't recommend banging the ends of the tins together to seal them when double shaking—otherwise, this will cause the weighted caps to come off prematurely.
Each tin (large and small) holds two drinks and is made from weighted stainless steel. Pick a classic silver, or opt for a more sleek rose gold, gold or black. Nate Fishman, Santera Tequila brand ambassador and a bartender at Liquor Lab, is a big fan of the brand. "Koriko creates really smooth products that are a bit lighter and are easier to grip."
Good to Know:
Amy Wong, of Portland’s King Tide Fish & Shell, notes that while these tins are industry favorites, they take a while to get used to. “They can be hard to seal the first few times, but that means they will last longer,” she says. “It’s like breaking in quality leather shoes—they are hard and cause soreness at first, but they eventually mold and you never want to get another pair.”
Runner-Up, Best Overall: OXO Good Grips Cocktail Shaker
Calling all home entertainers: OXO’s Good Grips Cocktail Shaker allows for easy mixing. It’s designed for low-effort, mess-free cocktail making—no behind-the-bar experience required.
The shaker comes in three parts: a 24-ounce stainless steel cocktail shaker, a straining lid, and a cap, complete with a built-in jigger marked with both 1- and 2-ounce pours. Two different silicone seals ensure there won’t be any slips or spills throughout the entire shake. The built-in strainer feature lets you juice citrus or muddles herbs directly in the shaker. Lastly, the lid is equipped with a smooth-release design to pull apart with ease when you’re done shaking. After you pour your drink, simply disassemble the shaker and pop it right in the dishwasher.
Best for Professionals: Cocktail Kingdom Leopold Shaking Tins
Best suited for professionals, Cocktail Kingdom’s Leopold Weighted Shaking Tins are a favorite of Isabella Marriott, head bartender at Brooklyn’s Bar Beau: “They are so easy to snap open and close that you never have to worry about the shakers getting stuck together.” You’ll find most experienced bartenders use this type of weighted shaking tins to mix craft cocktails. “An added bonus is you can stack them and never have to worry about the small tin getting trapped in the larger one,” she says.
These particular tins are a standard 18- and 28-ounce size and are made of commercial and home dishwasher-safe stainless steel. Keep in mind that these Boston shakers aren’t for the novice bartender—you’ll need to know how a shaker feels in your hand to properly seal the tins and avoid spills. Boston shakers are also far easier to clean than the average cobbler shaker: there are fewer nooks and crannies to scrub, making this ideal for a fast-paced bar environment.
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Best Leakproof: Rabbit Twist-to-Lock Cocktail Shaker
This Rabbit cocktail shaker is ideal for beginners: it’s intuitive to use and easy to clean. The all-in-one design features a strainer, tin, and lid, all built into one simple shaker. Flip the lid to build a cocktail—the top of the cup has measuring lines so you can easily build cocktails right in the shaker, no jigger required. Lift open the lid to reveal an integrated strainer.
The unique bayonet lid securely fits into place on the 18-ounce tin, allowing you to shake up cocktails as vigorously as needed. But no need to shake too hard—the double-walled stainless steel allows the drinks inside to chill quickly, while still keeping the outside of the containers warm to hands. A twist-on lid means you don’t have to struggle to remove a frozen lid. Plus, the cocktail shaker has a reamer attachment, so you can juice citrus directly into the tin.
Best Splurge: Cocktail Kingdom Coley Shaker
“For the home enthusiast, I am also loving the design and construction of the Coley shaker,” says Escalante. “[It will] get the job done while also bringing some style to your home bar.”
Its design is inspired by cocktail historians David Wondrich and Greg Boehm’s private collection, though the name is a nod to Ada "Coley" Coleman, a trailblazing female bartender from the turn of the century. The two-piece cocktail shaker is also made to an exacting standard and has an 18-ounce capacity. “The Coley can be a bit more expensive than the brands we use daily, but it comes back to design and construction,” continues Escalante. “Not to mention the silver-plated finish that will surely impress those you plan to entertain.”
Best Set: Fortessa Crafthouse Cocktail Set
Take your bartending skills to the next level by investing in this high-quality cocktail set from Crafthouse by Fortessa. Designed by renowned bartender Charles Joly, this four-piece set comes with everything you need to make cocktails: a two-piece Boston shaker, 2-ounce jigger, Hawthorne strainer and muddler. The 15-ounce shaker, strainer and jigger are made of stainless steel and are dishwasher safe, while the 11.5-inch muddler is made of rich black walnut and is recommended to wash by hand.
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Best Weighted: Barfly Basics Cocktail Set
For Nate Fishman, the two-piece Boston shaker from Barfly is his go-to cocktail shaker set: “I recommend them to bartenders for their weight and durability; not to mention that they are cheaper than many of the other shaker sets on the market.” The hand wash-only shakers are plated in 18/8 stainless steel to keep pitting and corrosion at bay.
Each set includes an 18- and 28-ounce shaker set, as well as a Japanese-style jigger designed with an elongated shape to give smooth, easy pours. Each jigger has a dual-side ounce and two-ounce pourers. Also included is a 13-inch, teardrop-end bar spoon and a heavy-duty Hawthorn strainer—all you need to churn out a cocktail or four.
Good to Know:
Look for tins with weights to them. “Shaking takes a toll on your joints and tendons throughout the years,” points out Eric Hobbie, head bartender at Las Vegas’ CliQue Hospitality.
Best for Bar Use: Piña Commercial Boston Tin Set
“I really like the Piña Commercial Boston Tin Set for any bar,” describes Anthony Escalante, the bar manager of the Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix. “The set is made with solid construction, giving it a great weight with an easy separation." The tins have more weight to them than traditional sets, he adds, as "they are made from heavier, higher-grade steel and use 360 welds, so you never have to worry about breaking off another weighted cap again.” This set comes with two tins: a 28-ounce one and an 18-ounce tin.
“Piña cocktail shakers are hands down the best,” agrees Ali Adkins, a bartender at The Stanley in Charlotte, N.C. “They have an appealing weight and great grip!”
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Best for Pros: A Bar Above Copper Boston Shaker Set
“A Bar Above started as an incredibly informative drinks podcast,” says Deena Sayers, a beverage strategist at Doña Vega Mezcal. “Now, they have a fantastic line of bar tools that I’ve come to fall in love with.”
Tom Levron, formerly a bartender at The Beekeeper Bar in Carlsbad, Calif., likes the brand's Boston shakers in particular. “These shakers are welded all around and not just in three spots like most shakers, which means they are stronger and will last longer. Also, they are priced competitively with other high-end shakers.”
Sayers notes that these shakers are available in two options: weighted and unweighted. “If you’re a flair bartender or shake your cocktails extra hard, then you’ll prefer the weighted set that won’t break loose during your cocktail-making theatrics. If you’re a bartender focused on speed, an at-home enthusiast, or just always have a problem popping the tin off after you finish shaking, then you’ll want to go with the weighted/unweighted combination.” The shaker sets are also crafted from food-grade stainless steel with a copper-coated finish.
Most Stylish: Rabbit RBT Cocktail Shaker
If you’re looking for a shaker that’s just as decorative as it is useful, look no further. Rabbit's signature cocktail shaker offers a sleek, contemporary design of matte black stainless steel with a slick gold lid. But this fine form is also functional: pop off the gold lid to reveal a built-in jigger, with a 1.5-ounce measurement etched into the design. Also under the lid is a smartly designed, integrated reamer for juicing citrus.
This stylish shaker is perfect for single-size cocktails, standing 9.3 inches tall with a 22-ounce capacity. A double-walled design also keeps hands warm all through shaking. Take note that the shaker must be washed by hand—not ideal when making cocktails for a crowd. Nonetheless, this shaker will look smart sitting atop a bar cart.
For more experienced mixologists, Koriko’s Weighted Shakers are considered industry standard. For the first-time drink maker or home bartender, OXO’s Good Grips Cocktail Shaker is easy to use and quick to clean.
What are the different types of cocktail shakers?
Shakers come in all forms and sizes, but two reign in the category: cobbler and Boston. Cobbler is a household favorite made up of three parts: a tin, a cap, and a built-in strainer.
Professional bartenders tend to gravitate towards a Boston shaker. Composed of two 12- and 28-ounce mixing tins (either glass or tin), these shakers provide a tight natural seal and ample room for ice and drink.
How do you use a cocktail shaker?
Begin by filling your shaker with your cocktail ingredients in order of least expensive to most expensive. Then, fill the container with a generous amount of ice (the less ice, the quicker the drink will dilute).
Next, if using a cobbler shaker, pop on the lid. If using a Boston shaker, seal your tins. Shake the tins generously until the sides have frosted over and are cool to the touch—generally around 15 seconds, or longer if working with egg whites. Strain to remove ice chunks, herbs, and citrus seeds, and serve!
How do you stop cocktail shakers from leaking?
This will largely depend on the quality of your shaker. A good shaker tin will create a tight seal automatically. If working with a Boston shaker, use the heel of your hand to tighten the seal.
What to Look For
Shakers come in a variety of sizes, from single-serving to crowd-sized. If you just want a shaker large enough for a happy hour for one, a small 12-ounce shaker will do. If you’re looking to craft cocktails for a crowd, opt for a shaker that holds at least 28 ounces. This will save you time by giving you the space to craft many cocktails at once.
Material is crucial in a shaker. You want your shaker to last for a long time, and low-quality metals will rust, tarnish, and chip with wear. Higher-quality stainless steel is your best bet—it will remain shiny and new after years of shaking.
One way to prolong the life of your shakers is to avoid letting them sit in the dishwasher overnight (the steam will corrode the finish or plating) and wash them by hand to keep the finish looking new. If you work in a high-volume bar or if you’ve got a bad case of the butterfingers, avoid glass shakers.
Pro bartenders swear by a shaker with weight. With a weighted shaker, one tin will have weight to it, while the other is unweighted. This gives a tighter seal and adds rigidity. The real bonus here, though, is it’s easier on your arms—after a night of shaking cocktails, a weighted shaker is easier on your joints and muscles.
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Kate Dingwall is an experienced spirits writer and glassware collector. She has been writing about the bar and spirits world for five years, including extensive coverage on glassware. She owns a concerning amount of glassware, from art deco Karl Palda decanters to 1800s-era crystal coupes, and she’s happy to wax poetic about all of them.
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