Cocktail Shakers

Monday, 25 May 2009 | Tags: ,

Not just for the bar room, a cocktail shaker is an essential tool for home entertaining if you're a fan of mixed drinks, both drinking and making. But they aren't all created equal, as we found out when we took a lesson in mixology and did a shaker comparison test.

The Basics

There are a few different styles of cocktail shakers to look at:

  • The standard (also called Cobbler) style shaker is the most common you’ll see in stores. It’s inexpensive and easy to use. There are usually 3 pieces: a tumbler, a lid with a built-in strainer, and a cap for the tumbler to use while shaking.

  • Boston shakers, typically used in bars, consist of two tumblers (a smaller glass one and a larger stainless steel one). Ingredients are added to the small tumbler and then the stainless steel one is placed on top to create a seal for shaking. You likely need to purchase a separate strainer to filter out the ice.

  • Novelty shakers come in a variety of styles and may have drink recipes or measurement lines printed on the side for reference.

  • Electric shakers are usually a standard style shaker mounted to a base that shakes or stirs the contents for you.

Shopping Tips

  • Stainless steel chills quicker than glass or acrylic, and is more durable. They also tend to make the tightest seal against leaks.

  • The quality of the stainless steel is important, however. You want high-grade material (18/10 to 18/8 with a higher amount of nickel and chromium) in order to avoid contraction when chilled, which makes it difficult to open the shaker for pouring.

  • The capacity of your shaker is important. A larger one (28 to 32 ounces) allows you to make both small or large amounts. But make sure it fits comfortably in your hand so you don’t drop it.

  • The size of the strainer holes should be large enough to allow a steady stream when straining. Small holes require longer to pour, and may lead to blockage or spillage.

  • A tight seal is extremely important. All parts should fit firmly together. Put it together at the store and do a one-handed shake holding only the tumbler. If any of the pieces come off during shaking, it doesn’t have a good seal and could leak or send the top and contents flying.


We went for a mixology lesson with an expert bartender who also helped us test four shakers.

  • Metrokane “The Bullet” Cocktail Shaker (standard style, stainless steel): $27.99
. . Amazon.ca Amazon.com
  • WMF “Loft” Shaker (Boston, stainless steel and glass tumblers): $59.99
. . Amazon.ca
  • Oggi “Dial-A-Drink” Cocktail Shaker (novelty, stainless steel): $24.99
. . Amazon.com
  • Danesco Olive Cocktail Shaker (standard style, glass tumbler with stainless steel lid): $17.98
. .

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars)

Drink-Making Test

  • The Oggi Dial-A-Drink shaker worked well. It was handy to have those drink recipes there. The lid was a little sticky to get off and required a bit of elbow grease.

  • The Danesco was, well, ugly, though we liked being able to see the contents compared to the solid stainless steel.

  • We loved the style of the Metrokane bullet and it chilled very quickly, but it was difficult to use. The colder it got, the harder it was to remove the lid, so it wasn’t very good quality stainless steel. We had to bang it to get it open!

  • The WMF “Loft” Boston-style shaker was easy to use, poured quickly, and seemed to create the best drink mix, if that’s possible, allowing the ice to dilute into the mix just the right amount. However, the strainer wasn’t included in this one.


We really liked the style of the WMF “Loft” Boston shaker. We think the Boston shaker style is the best to choose, but our mixologist teacher told us there are definitely cheaper ones out there than the one we tested. And don’t forget to buy a strainer if it’s not included!


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