Cocktail Shakers 101: Boston, Cobblers and Parisian Shakers

Cocktail Shakers 101

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As a rule of thumb (and of course there are exceptions), drinks that contain juice, cream or eggs should be shaken. A few examples are the daiquiri, whiskey sour, tom collins (best to top with soda after shaking and straining), cosmopolitan and margarita.

 

Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

TYPES OF COCKTAIL SHAKERS

Below you’ll discover the 3 key aspects as to why we shake a cocktail and the advantages/disadvantages of each of the four styles of cocktail shakers listed below. There will also be recommendations on where to buy these cocktail shakers whether you are in Australia, the UK or USA.


WHY SHAKE A COCKTAIL?

1. TEXTURE

Shaking introduces tiny air bubbles into the mixture, creating texture in a drink. When shaking drinks that contain fruit juice such as pineapple, lemon or lime, it gives a slightly frothy appearance. Shaking a cocktail containing egg white creates a foamy, meringue-like head with a textured mouthfeel.

As a rule of thumb (and of course there are exceptions), drinks that contain juice, cream or eggs should be shaken. A few examples are the Daiquiri, Whiskey Sour, Cosmopolitan and Margarita.

2.  DILUTION

Dilution plays a very important role in making a good drink. With the right amount of dilution the flavours of your cocktail can be fully experienced when consumed.

Not enough dilution and your drink will be too boozy or potent, too much dilution and your drink becomes weak and watery. Correct dilution enhances your cocktail.

Dilution is key.

Cocktail shaking is an aggressive activity which rapidly chills and dilutes a drink. It reaches ideal temperature and dilution in approximately 12-15 seconds of shaking. At this point it reaches thermal equilibrium which means the drink won’t get any colder or dilute further.

3. TEMPERATURE

It’s clear that a chilled shaken cocktail tastes better than a warm one but it’s the overall effect that is often overlooked when making drinks.

Temperature plays a very important role in creating a great drink as it is the major influencing factor for dilution. The temperature of the drink effects the level of dilution – the colder a drink is, the less the drink dilutes.


DIFFERENCES BETWEEN COCKTAIL SHAKERS

BOSTON SHAKER – TIN AND GLASS

Recommended for beginners and experienced bartenders

Boston Shaker
Boston Shaker with Glass

In my time working in bars this has always been the most common cocktail shaker for ‘professional use’.

The tin and glass combination is inexpensive, sturdy and efficient. The large tins are uniform in size and shape meaning that you can utilise most pint glasses with your tin if you lose or break the glass. Most Boston shaker sets will usually only set you back around $10 or less.

The glass that comes in the set should be tempered, meaning that it can withstand knocks, bumps and going through a hot dishwasher.

This type of shaker enables you to see the ingredients as you work with them and add them to the glass part of the shaker – quite handy if you are busy and lose track of where you are up to….but, with experience, you should be able to remember or do this by tasting to determine what ingredients you have added to your drink and what is missing.

The capacity of a standard size Boston shaker is 840mL (28oz) for the larger tin and 480mL (16oz) for the glass component – this means that you can easily shake up to 3 cocktails at once.

Given that it is a 2-piece cocktail shaker, you’ll need a hawthorn strainer to strain the cocktail, omitting ice, pips and some pulp. You can utilise a fine strainer in conjunction with the hawthorn strainer to remove smaller parts.

Pros
  • Large capacity (1-3 cocktails)
  • Easy to separate (with practice)
  • Tempered glass
  • See your ingredients when adding
  • Great for busy venues
  • Can replace missing or broken parts
  • Glass can be used as a mixing glass
Cons
  • Can break if dropped
  • Needs a strainer

WEIGHTED SHAKER TINS

Recommended for experienced and professional bartenders

Hikari Cocktail Shaker
Weighted Shaker Tins

There are a number of key reasons as to why I prefer using weighted shaker tins.

Stainless steel heats up and cools down faster compared to a tempered Boston glass – the glass requires more energy to drop it’s temperature and therefore will add additional dilution to your drink. There’s a lot less chance of breaking a tin than there is breaking the Boston glass.

The tins are lighter, meaning that you use less energy to shake. This might not seem like a big deal but if you are in a busy bar mixing hundreds of cocktails, you’ll be thankful using tin on tin!

The tins form a tighter seal and requires less effort to separate.

Pros
  • Large capacity (1-3 cocktails)
  • Easy to separate (with practice)
  • Looks professional
  • Used by professional bartenders
  • Great for busy venues
Cons
  • Can’t see ingredients
  • Noisy if dropped
  • Can be a little harder to separate
  • Needs a strainer

FRENCH / PARISIENNE SHAKER

Recommended for both home and professional bartenders (but only in a slower paced environment)

French Cocktail Shaker
French/Parisienne Shaker

The Parisian shaker, also known as a French shaker, is the less common of all the cocktail shakers mentioned.

They are designed so that the two parts fit tightly together – aesthetically they are great but this snug fit means that some times they will require a little maneuvering in order to separate the two parts.

Much like the Boston shaker, you’ll need a hawthorn strainer in order to strain the drink into your glass.

Pros
  • Varied sizes available
  • Looks classy
Cons
  • Can be a little harder to separate
  • Needs a strainer

COBBLER SHAKER / 3-PIECE SHAKER

Recommended for both home and professional bartenders (but only in a slower paced environment)

Heavyweight Cobbler Shaker
Cobbler Shaker

The Cobbler shaker has two key advantages – the built-in strainer and the ease of use. You don’t need to learn the technique of separating the shaker unlike Boston shakers.

The built-in strainer could be seen as both a positive and negative. Although you don’t need a hawthorn strainer, it often is a lot slower to strain and can also clog up with ice, pips and pulp.

Pros
  • Varied sizes available
  • Ideal for slower-paced environents
  • Built-in strainer
  • Looks classy
Cons
  • Can be a little harder to separate
  • Can’t easily replace missing parts
  • Strainer can clog

 

WHERE TO BUY COCKTAIL SHAKERS?

 

Further reading: Barware Buyers Guide

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