The Cocktail Shaker: A Bartender's Best Friend

The Cocktail Shaker: A Bartender's Best Friend
  • The first record of cocktail shakers dates back to 7000 BC!

  • Before cocktail shakers, drinks were simply tossed back and forth between 2 glasses

  • At the House of Bols, our favorite shaker is the Tin on tin shaker


The cocktail shaker. The most characteristic bartending tool, available in many shapes and sizes, it's essential behind any bar. The Boston shaker, the Cobbler shaker, the French shaker all have their own distinct history and have been around for a very long time. Let's dive into the world of cocktail shakers so you can start to assemble your perfect cocktail shaker set!


History of the cocktail shaker

The first evidence of a cocktail shaker was found in South America as early as 7000 BC! Fragments of bottles with traces of alcohol in them have been identified as being for the purpose of mixing drinks. According to Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez 'golden cylinder-shaped containers' were used to prepare frothy cacao mixtures. 

The cocktail shaker we think of today became part of the general cocktail making gear around the mid-19th century. Before these shakers were around, drinks were simply tossed back and forth between two glasses to mix the ingredients. Stainless steel cocktail shakers were standard bar equipment by the mid-1850's. 

By the time Jerry Thomas wrote the first-ever cocktail book ('How to mix drinks') in 1862 he was already instructing his readers to shake their drinks stating: 'every well-ordered bar has a tin egg nogg shaker, which is a great aid in mixing'. 

Many new cocktail shakers, new versions, and improvements were invented by bartenders and three cocktail shaker types have stood the test of time: the French, the Boston and the Cobbler shaker. As the concept of the shaker developed in the United States, what was later known as the Boston shaker dominated American bars. The version that was most popular in Britain was called the French shaker (later the Parisian shaker). The third type is the three-part or Cobbler shaker, which involved an integrated strainer. 


Pros and cons for each cocktail shaker type


French Shaker

The French shaker is a lightweight, 2 part stainless steel shaker which chills your liquids fast and efficiently, is durable and sounds great when you shake with ice. The downside can be that they are quite difficult to open due to a very snug fit of the 2 parts. 


Boston Shaker

The Boston shaker consists of 2 parts: 1 stainless steel tin and 1 glass cup. On the plus side, this type of shaker enables you to shake several drinks at once. Also, the glass part of the shaker enables the guest (and bartender) to see what goes into the cocktail. The downside is the glass part breaks often, making it not as cost-effective behind a busy bar. Also, some level of experience is needed to open the shaker. 


Cobbler Shaker

The Cobbler Shaker consists of 3 parts: 2 stainless steel tins and a built-in strainer. This design makes it very user friendly for novice bartenders. The downside is they are relatively small, making it harder to make multiple drinks at the same time. Also due to a tight seal, they can be difficult to open. 

So go ahead, choose your favorite shaker and create your best cocktail shaker set!

Reading next

The Job of a Bartender
History and Production of Liqueurs