A Glimpse into the History of the Cocktail Shaker
The ‘Gourd’ (a small container for liquids) was the start of the concept of the cocktail shaker – traced back to around 7000BCE in South America. Shakers then truly changed the face of cocktails for the first time as we know and understand them to be around the mid-1900s. Two containers were used to ‘throw’ liquid back and forth in an attempt to mix a beverage. Using a shaker allows for consistency in your drinks – allowing ingredients to chill, dilute appropriately and of course give a well-blended result. There are generally 3 categories of cocktail shakers to choose from but there are many different cocktail shakers on the market now with different uses according to what you’re looking for in your specified recipe. Tales of the Cocktail has a great in-depth history on the Cocktail Shaker.
Below, we outline design functionality, as well as advantages and disadvantages of different cocktail shakers to assist you in your bar kit compilation.
Does the type of cocktail determine the shaker?
When it comes to selecting cocktail shakers according to the cocktail you’re mixing, we are of the school of opinion that the shaker doesn’t actually make a difference here. Selection of shakers rather comes down to your personal preference of the style and fit of the shaker in your hands, as well as the quantities that you require.
The Boston Cocktail Shaker is a 2 piece set consisting of a transparent mixing glass or small “cheater tin” and a larger metal tin. This shaker is great for creating double quantities since it is larger than most shakers. Usually, Boston Shakers are sold separately so make sure that the pieces you’re buying are compatible.
The ‘Tin on Tin’ combination is not only more durable with clumsy hands but also gives great theatrics to your customers as you can create a big noise and a big shake. Doubling up with 2 sets and banging them against each other will definitely draw some enthusiastic attention from your customers. Talk about upping your efficiency with increased quantity!
Using a weighted tin (look for the seal on the bottom of the tin) will give you a stronger seal and avoid an unnecessary mess. Watch this neat ‘how to’ video on mixing 2 cocktails simultaneously.
‘Throwing’ is a common technique used with ‘Tin on Tin’ shakers. It is the middle ground between shaking and stirring a cocktail. Less aggressive than shaking but more effectivethan stirring, throwing allows you to dilute and chill the drink without aggressively altering the texture and mouth feel of the drink. Throwing entails passing liquids between 2 vessels in a long and rhythmic manner. For a useful guide on this, refer to Difford’s Guide: How to Throw a Cocktail.
- Advantages – easy to source, clean and store behind your bar; fairly cheap options available.
- Disadvantages – Can be difficult for those with small hands to handle.
The Cobbler aka Manhattan Shaker is a 3-piece set and probably the most recognizable and popular of cocktail shakers. They are often used in more classily themed bars and are perfect for beginners, as well as great for home use. The set consists of a metal tumbler, strainer and lid. The built-in strainer makes it easier and quicker to use – however, some shakers can be tricky to open once shaken (especially with cold and wet hands) so be sure to find a shaker that you can easily pry open during a busy shift.
The Cobbler Shaker is also used for the Hard Shake. Contradictorily – the hard shake is actually a gentle shake originated by a Japanese Bartender. There are different styles but the aim is to guide the ice around the shaker for controlled dilution as opposed to crashing the ice up and down. The Hard Shake can be difficult to master but is a beautiful show.
Hidetsugu Ueno demonstrates The Hard Shake in this video.
The Baron shaker is a more premium style within the Cobbler Category. It has a more definitive, upright structure with less curve.
- Advantages – Easily available, No additional straining required.
- Disadvantages – Difficult to open and more expensive than the majority of other shakers.
Parisian Cocktail Shaker
The Parisian (or French) Shaker is one of the sexier shakers out there – it’s slick and majestic. It has a similar function to the Boston Shaker, – consisting of 2 pieces (the metal tumbler and lid), however, it looks more similar and is actually the ancestor of the Cobbler Shaker. This shaker is sized between the Boston and Cobbler shakers, so keep that in mind when you’re planning your methods. Like the Boston Shaker – the Parisian shaker can be difficult to handle for those with small hands as it is larger.
- Advantages: an Attractive item of equipment and allows for larger quantities of mixing.
- Disadvantages: Requires a strainer and is slightly more difficult to source (Luckily we have a few options for you in our store).
When buying a cocktail shaker, you’ll need to invest your hard earned cash. As they say – you get what you pay for. Test out different shakers and methods to see which one you feel more confident in handling before purchasing one. You definitely don’t want to have to constantly clean up after a leaking shaker or worse – shower your customers with ice and spirits.