Many great cocktail recipes call for chilling through adding some or all ingredients to a shaker with ice. This allows the ingredients to be shaken to ensure they are well mixed but also allows the ice to quickly chill the cocktail. Cocktails with citrus, dairy, or other opaque ingredients specifically benefit from this mixing/chilling method. The question, as alluded to in the title of this post, is… What kind of shaker do you use?
The style I used for years was a cobbler shaker, also known as a 3-piece cocktail shaker. This is what you usually see in specialty food shops and gift sets. They can be very pretty and come in all types of material from stainless steel, to copper, glass, or other cheaper materials. The key, if you want to use a cobbler shaker, is to pay attention to the materials. Thinner metal cobbler shakers tend to warp slightly over time and loose their seal or not fit together quite right over time. They are also more prone to getting stuck shut with the contraction of the metal when it gets very cold during the shaking process. They can usually be unstuck by waiting for the shaker to warm up a bit or running a little warm water over the top (but not too much, you don’t want to warm up your drink too).
Available since the late 1800s and at its height of popularity in the 1930s and 40s, it has been produced in a wide range of styles from sleek and minimal to highly ornamented.COCKTAILDB.COM
The cobbler shaker is a good beginner shaker as is is typically smaller, single cocktail sized, and the integrated strainer in the lid makes it easy to pour from. That being said, once I got my first quality Boston shaker my cobbler went on a back shelf and hasn’t come out since.
At its simplest, a Boston shaker is a two-piece cocktail shaker, consisting of a glass and a metal tin. The key is that the mixing glass creates a seal with the stainless steel half when gently tapped into place. The cocktail can then be shaken without fear of making a mess. (Beginners are advised to practice with water in an before attempting to use a Boston shaker to make cocktails.)
The Boston shaker has some definite benefits over the cobbler which is why it is now my go to shaker.
First, they are typically larger making it easier to make 2 servings of the same cocktail at once. This is key for me as usually I’m making a cocktail for both my wife and I to try (which I then post to our site WhiskeyInTheRai.com).
This was the first style of cocktail shaker ever created and can be seen in use in illustrations as early as 1888.cocktaildb.com
Then there is the easy cleanup. Basically you just have two cups one metal and one glass with no fiddly built in strainer to deal with. Now, you do still have the separate strainer to clean but that is much easier to get at and in some, like the one I use, the spring portion can even come off to make it raven easier to clean. Also, while my Cobbler Shakers are all hand wash only, my Boston shaker and strainer can go right in the dishwasher.
Lastly, the Boston Shaker is much easier to add ingredients to, put together and take apart (once you get the hang of it). I can got from raw ingredients for 2 portions of a cocktail to serving much more quickly with the Boston. This is probably another reason why you typically see more Boston shakers behind restaurant bars.