Along with the jigger, the shaker is the most central tool in the home bar toolkit – and one that’s easy to go wrong with if you don’t know what to look for. Don’t bother with plastic or glass shakers – they won’t get the drink cold enough. The job of the shaker is to chill and blend ingredients of different viscosities into a unified whole, like emulsifying oil and vinegar. A good shaker is made of stainless steel, is leakproof, and is easy to maintain. At home, most prefer a Cobbler shaker – three pieces that “cobble” together to make a whole unit (shaking tin, strainer, and cap). In a commercial bar environment, you’re most likely to see professionals using the Boston shaker – a mixing glass that fits snugly into a shaking tin. It’s a simple, two-piece construction that’s easy to clean, quick to work with, and the mixing glass doubles as a vessel to make stirred drinks. I say it’s two-piece, but you’ll also need a Hawthorn strainer to use this shaker, so there’s your three pieces.

I weighed each shaker, measured their capacities, and tested each one to see how cold it would get a drink. Here’s my method for testing the chilling ability of each of these shakers: into each one, I added one cup of cracked ice and two ounces of overproof vodka (I keep a bottle handy strictly for science). Shook hard for ten seconds, then strained into a room-temperature glass. Measured the temperature of the chilled vodka when it dipped to its lowest point.

GUY DEGRENNE COBBLER

Mine is one I’ve used for years and am very happy with – the Guy Degrenne 18/10 stainless steel shaker made for Williams-Sonoma (no longer available). It’s a cobbler with a nice rubber O-ring to ensure a no-leak seal between the strainer and mixing tin, and a tight rubber enclosure in the cap to seal the strainer on top. Its only flaw is the rubber cap enclosure sometimes separates from the steel cap, but gripping it correctly resolves that minor complaint. I mention this shaker just so you know what I’m using as a baseline to compare against.
WEIGHT: 12 oz
CAPACITY: 24 oz
CHILL: 20.3° F

CHEAPO COBBLER

Here’s the loser of the lot: an oversized $8 aluminum shaker purchased at HomeGoods. It has no manufacturer stamp or any way of identifying who’s responsible for this. Problems: aluminum doesn’t get the drinks as cold as steel (but only by a couple degrees, to be fair), the cap leaks terribly when shaking – even when held tight, and the straining cap dribbles the drink out in six different directions – only two of which are in the direction of the glass. Lesson: you get what you pay for.
WEIGHT: 12 oz
CAPACITY: 34 oz
CHILL: 22.1° F

BOSTON SHAKER

I included a typical Boston shaker as an option some home bartenders might prefer as more of a multitool (for making shaken and stirred drinks). It can be a little difficult to master getting a good, tight seal and then breaking that seal – but not a huge deal. If the seal isn’t good and tight, you’ll get leakage aplenty, and if you’re not holding the mixing glass properly, it could separate from the shaking tin and do some damage. Also, because of the mixing glass, the Boston shaker is almost twice as heavy as a Cobbler. Something to consider if you’ll be making a lot of drinks at a party. Another liability of the glass is it reduces the ability of the shaker to chill, but only slightly. This one is $14.50 online at The Boston Shaker.
WEIGHT: 20.5 oz
CAPACITY (shaking tin): 24 oz
CHILL: 22° F

OXO INSULATED SHAKER

I was skeptical about the design of this one – its double-wall insulation protects your precious hands from getting frostbite – now, where’s the fun in that? A good, hard frost on the outside of the shaker is a reliable way of gauging if you’ve shaken long enough. That doesn’t happen with this one, although the cap did get an intense, thick frost after just ten seconds of shaking. And wouldn’t you know it, the OXO shaker got the vodka significantly colder than the other three, including my beloved Guy Degrenne shaker. No leaks, either. All in all, a great product, nice design, highly recommended – with one caveat. The cap doubles as a handy, built-in jigger for measuring with gradations of 3/4 ounce, one ounce, and 1 1/2 ounces clearly marked. The measurements didn’t look right to my eye, so I tested them and they’re off. Way off. The .75 ounce mark is actually 1 ounce, the 1 ounce mark is actually 1.6 ounces, and the 1.5 ounce mark measures 1.8 ounces. A disappointing bit of sloppiness on an otherwise fine item. So, use your own (accurate) jigger if you go with this one. Available at Amazon for about $30.
WEIGHT: 14.5 oz
CAPACITY: 20 oz
CHILL: 13.8° F

 

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