Cocktail Shakers 101
So you read our post Humble Beginnings: The Basics Every Home Bar Needs and visited your local bottle shop to stock up on the essentials. You are ready to get started mixing some cocktails and look up a few recipes only to freeze...
"What the hell is a jigger? Why do I need to strain my drink? Does it really make a difference?!"
Yes, friend. Yes, it does.
But let's start off slowly as to not overwhelm you. The first thing you want to invest in is a quality cocktail shaker. We have an extreme bias as to which one you should invest in (obviously), but the goal here is to help you make the best-informed decision possible.
With that said...
WARNING: Not All Cocktail Shakers are Created Equal
Just a heads up that some bar tools can be a lightning rod for debate so before we start blabbering about how our shaker is the absolute best, it's only right that we attempt to portray some sense of non-biased transparency and provide info about other types of shakers on the market.
Truth be told, there are several, and while they all serve the purpose of helping you or your bartender create tasty cocktails, they aren't all created equal.
If you're new to the cocktail world, fret not - the variety of shakers out there can be downright intimidating, but you really don't need much to cover your bases. Here are the most popular versions...
Enter the cobbler shaker, or sometimes called the "The Three Piece." It may be the most common shaker, especially for home bartenders.
The overall design remains unchanged since 1884. The tin cup on the bottom usually comes with a detachable top that doubles as a strainer, and the third piece is simply a cap for the top that serves as your jigger, or measuring cup.
CONS for the Cobbler Cocktail Shaker
The argument against the cobbler shaker is typically rooted in its volume (or lack thereof). It's just difficult to pump out more than one drink in quick succession, which is why you don't see many pros using these.
Some folks claim its lack of volume forces the user to focus on one drink at a time, providing a more tailored experience. While we can certainly see the benefits of that argument, you typically won't find one in use at your local craft cocktail bar.
Cobbler shakers can also be a nightmare to unstick - both from sugary drinks and the tightening of the metal caused by cold. This is particularly true if you don't detach the top two pieces immediately after use.
Cobblers also don't work as well for straining drinks with fine ingredients because the strainer holes are usually rather large and there is no spring (as with a separate Hawthorne strainer).
Lastly, if you enjoy adding egg white to your drinks, cobbler shakers are notorious for exploding, often with the top shooting off and Jackson Pollack'ing your bar.
Leave it to the French to take something and make it even more beautiful, yet frustratingly complex.
The Parisian shaker, or simply French shaker, as it's often called, is a mix between the cobbler and Boston shakers.
It's aesthetically pleasing and easy to shake, but don't let its smooth looks fool you. Opening this thing can be damn near impossible.
Some fine dining establishments use them because they look nice, but trust us when we say no one looks cool trying to leverage every fiber of their being trying to open a shaker while swearing in French.
While the Parisian shaker also lacks the integrated strainer found in the Cobbler Shaker, you can't deny that it's a damn good-looking design. You can find some beautiful vintage pieces on the interwebs and they look great on a shelf or as a bookend.
Chances are, if you wandered into a cocktail bar, this will be what's sitting in the bartenders' workspace - 2 simple cups, where one fits snuggly inside the other.
The debate on the best shaker continues to rage on among home and amateur bartenders, but we think the Boston Shaker is it.
You may think it's just that we're biased, but it's long been settled amongst the pros. It's often the choice for professional bartenders due to its volume, durability, and easy storage.
While they lack the strainer of the Cobbler Shaker, they can easily be manipulated to strain with just the two cups. Boston Shakers also provide the greatest distance from end to end for ice to travel and aerate a frothy drink.
While some folks would throw out the BS flag for a statement asserting the C&D Tools Boston Shaker actually makes a better tasting drink, there's certainly some argument to be made and we think you should find out for yourself!
The choice is yours.
So there you have it. At the end of the day, don't let the nerds fool you - you can make a cocktail in a mason jar. But there's something about the process, an art form, and craft to consider before you go slinging alcohol and ingredients into just any old shaker.
We at C&D have designed the first American-made Boston shaker in over 40 years.
(read about our inspiration for this shaker here!)
We engineered it with direct input from both professional bartenders and home enthusiasts. Most importantly, we built it to outlast you. We hope our Boston shaker is the last one you'll ever need to buy.