The right shaker ensures you're able to make your favorite drinks without any mishaps.

If you want to get in on the craft cocktail boom and make tasty cocktails at home, you'll need a cocktail shaker. But which one to buy? It's easy to get confused by all the bar tools for sale, especially when you consider the fact that there are three different styles of shakers to choose from. We spoke to Tim Harris, the beverage director of The Bowery Group, which includes New York City restaurants Cookshop, Vic's, Shuka, Shukette, and Rosie's, to figure out what are the pros and cons of each style and what to consider before investing in your own cocktail shaker.

First, let's begin with the basics: Simply put, a cocktail shaker is used to mix alcoholic drinks that need to be shaken, typically with ice. You add all your ingredients to the shaker, close it up, and give it a good, hard shake for several minutes. Then you open up the shaker and strain out the liquid into a glass, leaving behind any ice and other solid ingredients. Most cocktail shakers are made out of metal and have several parts. And though they all perform the same basic function, each style of shaker is different—understanding what makes each one unique will help you decide which is best for your needs.

cocktail shakers on wood surface
Credit: Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

What Are the Different Types?

There are three different types of cocktail shakers: the Boston, the Cobbler, and the Parisian (or the French). The Boston shaker has just two parts, and it is made up of two mixing glass-sized metal tins (though some consists of one metal tin and one mixing glass). There is no strainer and to seal the shaker you fit the two rims inside each other. You'll need to have a separate strainer when you're ready to pour your drink. Boston shakers are typically used in bars and commercial settings.

The Cobbler shaker consists of the metal tin, a built-in strainer at the top, and a metal cap. Its all-in-one construction makes it easy to use so it's ideal for home use. Last but not least is the curvy Parisian shaker, which is similar to the Boston in that it doesn't have a strainer. People love its attractive hourglass shape, although it can be harder to find.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Each?

"The three-part Cobbler shaker is probably the most convenient for home use, because it has that built-in strainer, and the parts don't come apart too easily," says Harris. He also adds that it comes in different sizes, so you can make one or several cocktails at once depending on what size you use. Plus, there's no need for additional tools, it's easy to buy everywhere, and simple to use. But sometimes it can be hard to open, and it's also harder to clean. Plus, the filter holes are pretty large so you made need an additional mesh strainer for finer particles.

The Boston shaker, of course, has no strainer included, which can be a positive or negative depending on how you look at it (convenience versus precision). The older version of the Boston shaker had a glass on one end and a shaker on the other, which of course meant the glass could chip or break, says Harris. And even with two metal shakers, it can take a novice cocktail maker some time to figure out the proper sealing technique. "Once you know the technique to seal, it's quite easy, but if you don't, then it can be a little cumbersome and then breaking them apart is a little cumbersome as well—I've seen more than one person wear more of the cocktail than they pour into the glass," says Harris. Still, once you know the technique, having two metal shakers inside each other is the most efficient method for a commercial setting because they are quick to seal and break apart (once you know how) and they can also be easily cleaned and put back into use again, which is important in a busy bar setting. The Boston shaker only comes in one size, for one drink at a time.

The Parisian shaker is usually harder to find and more expensive, but it's stylish and easy to use. "I think Parisian shakers are the sexiest," says Harris.


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