Different Types of Cocktail Shakers (Pros & Cons)

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Cocktail shakers are as essential to making impressive drinks as the quality of liquors, spirits, and juices. When you are deciding to get a cocktail shaker, you may have a few questions about how to choose one that is right for you. While there is a variety of options out there, after weeding through the impressive amount of colors, materials, and sizes, it all comes down to 4 different types of shakers.

How Many Types of Cocktail Shakers are There?

Today, there is some disparity between mixologists about how many types of drink shakers there are. Some are traditionalists and stick with the original 3, the Boston, the French (Parisian), and the Cobbler. Each of these have their own unique shapes and styles.

The fourth shaker is the tin-on-tin shaker. The reason that some old school mixologists do not consider them their own type is due to the shape and function of the tin-on-tin.

Tin-on-tin shakers are essentially Boston shakers. However, instead of one tin piece and one glass piece, the tin-on-tin mixer is two pieces of tin.

Many bartenders and mixologists prefer this mixer because of the durability. Breaking the seal after mixing can be tricky with glass. Being able to pump the shaker against the counter’s edge or with their palm without having to worry about shattering glass is a nice perk, especially during a busy rush.

Cleaning the tin-on-tin shakers also goes much quicker than its glass counterparts. Without having to worry about accidentally breaking the glass during the washing process, bartenders and mixologists can quickly sanitize the shaker and be ready for the next round of craft cocktails in no time.

Name Appearance Pros Cons
Boston Shaker Your typical bar shaker. Glass cup on one end and steel tin on the other. Space to make two cocktails at once.

Easy to clean

Glass lets you see your cocktail while making it

Glass can break easily

Can be hard to seal and unseal

Cobbler Shaker 3 piece design (usually steel) with a strainer Built in strainer for easy use

Great for first time bartenders

the strainer can be hard to clean

Takes a long time to clean after each pour

Can be hard to seal

French Shaker Two piece steel design with a lovely shape Easy to clean being two seperate steel pieces

Pretty to look at

Easy to use

Can be hard to break the seal

Small capacity, can only mix one drink at a time

Tin-on-Tin Two separate tin containers. Similar to the Boston Shaker but without glass. Easy to clean being two steel pieces

Large capacity, mix two drinks at once

Very durable

Not as pretty as other shakers

You may need your own strainer


Which Style of Cocktail Shaker is Best?

As with any craft, each artisan has their own favorite medium to work with. Choosing cocktail shakers is very dependent and personal. Also, some drinks tend to work better in certain shakers over others.

So which style of cocktail shaker is best for a home bar? All of them! Each shaker has its own personality and functionality, so choosing which one is best is up to you.

If you are hoping for something durable and long lasting, choosing either a Parisian or tin-on-tin is a good way to go. Both of these shakers are made of tin on both sides, making them a great option for new or aspiring mixologists.

For home use, choosing materials that will not break or shatter when dropped allows for room for error and erring on the side of caution is a great idea when you are a novice mixologist.

The Parisian shaker is also arguably the most attractive cocktail shaker. It has a unique and decorative design, allowing it to be both useful and aesthetic. While the tin-on-tin is not the most visually peeling, it does stack well within itself and allows for easy storage out of sight.

Other novice and professional bartenders alike choose the Cobbler shaker. This is thanks to the Cobbler’s built-in strainer. While having to worry about cleaning the strainer after every drink in a busy bar or pub may seem daunting, if you are mixing drinks for friends at home, it most likely will not be a deal breaker.

The Boston shaker is a long standing favorite. This style of shaker is used commonly in professional bars as well as home settings. Thanks to its ease of use and capacity size, it is no wonder the classic has stayed so popular over the years.

If you want to add a little pizzazz to your cocktail mixing, the Boston shaker allows you to see your cocktail through the glass as you create it. This is also helpful if you are eyeballing your proportions instead of measuring.

cocktail shakers

What is a Cocktail Shaker Called?

Cocktail shakers are known throughout the bar scene as their name or they are sometimes referred to as bar shakers. While it may seem strange that these vital tools do not have a fancier or more professional name, they do live up to it. Cocktail shakers are, well, just that, a place to create drinks by mixing ice, liquor, juice, spirits, and other ingredients before shaking them all together.

Some people have referred to these as cocktail mixers as well. Even though they are a place to mix and make cocktails, bar shaker and cocktail shaker remain the industry standard names for these instruments.

Also Check: Different Types of Tequila Explained

What Cocktail Shakers Do Professionals Use?

Professional bartenders and mixologists know there is no one right shaker for the job. While many do have a preference, choosing certain shakers for certain drinks is part of the process to creating magnificently crafted cocktails.

For some, the decision on which shaker to use will vary from drink to drink or how the night is going. If a table orders two of the same drink, being able to craft both of them at the same time would be helpful and less time consuming. In this case, a bartender or mixologist may choose either the tin-on-in or the Boston shaker.

In many places where the drinks are prepared in front of you, bartenders use the Boston shaker. This is because the drinks are prepared in the glass part of the shaker, allowing patrons to see their drinks being made. This also allows bartenders and mixologists to see the drink they are preparing as well.

In busier places, professionals may choose to forgo the glass containers and stick with all tin designs. The tin-on-tin offers a large capacity as well as easy cleaning and durability. The French or Parisian shaker gives off a bit of elegance with its beautiful design. If the ambience of the space calls for it, the French shaker may be a favorite.

For new bartenders, or those who mix with a lot of fresh ingredients, the Cobbler shaker’s built-in strainer can be a lifesaver. It is also common for drinks that are poured at the table to be poured using this type of shaker. They are easy to use, and the strainer prevents any ice or chunks from plopping into a drink, splashing patrons at the table.

What is the Best Size Cocktail Shaker?

Choosing which size cocktail shaker you need does not need to be a difficult one. The first and most important step is to look at how you plan on using your shaker. If you are using it in your home bar with a small group of friends, you can most likely get away with the 12 ounce size shaker.

This size is perfect for home bars and for small gatherings. This allows you to craft classic and new cocktails in small batches, which is even more convenient when everyone wants something a little different.

If you are the talk of the town and have large parties, you may want to invest in a larger capacity shaker or even multiple shakers. Mixing up multiple shakers at the same time allows you to serve more guests with less time.

If you are not sure on multiple shakers, choosing a 28 ounce shaker will allow you to mix a few drinks at the same time in the same shaker. This saves you time in prep as well as in cleaning up.

Do You Put Ice in a Cocktail Shaker?

Ice is an essential part of the cocktail and cocktail mixing process. Ice will help break down and dilute a cocktail, so be sure to choose good quality water. Many upscale and professional mixologists and bartenders will choose to make ice cubes out of distilled water to avoid adding any minerals or taste to the cocktail.

If you are using a three piece mixer, the Cobbler shaker, put the ice in first. Since this cocktail shaker has a lid and has limited space, be careful not to overload the mixer. Overloaded can lead to poorly mixed drinks as well possibly breaking or damaging the shaker.

Ice is also essential for chilling a drink. Most cocktails are served chilled, but not all of them are served over ice. Think of a lemon drop martini. While you receive a chilled drink, the glass does not contain ice as it is not how you serve or enjoy a classic lemon drop martini. Instead, the mix is chilled during the shaking process in the shaker.

Be careful not to shake the mixture too excessively. While you want the drink to mix and chill, you do not want to break all the ice cubes apart. The ice will melt and begin to dilute the drink, ruining the taste and balance. Using hole ice cubes with rounded edges and shaking gently will help reduce the amount of broken ice chips fall into your drink.

cocktail shakers

Do You Really Need a Cocktail Shaker?

If you are setting up your home bar and are wondering if cocktail shakers are a necessity, the answer depends on what you plan to enjoy in your home. If you are someone who enjoys mixing craft cocktails, investing in a shaker is not a bad idea.

There are other ways that you can shake and mix drinks. If you do not have a shaker and are wanting to craft a cocktail, grab two pint sized cups and use one as the base. Add all your ingredients and ice.

Then take the other cup and pour the mixture into the second glass, then back to the first, then back to second, so on and so forth until the drink is mixed. This will still help stir and chill your drink, but will not be as effective as a shaker.

Do not use two glasses in the same way you would use a shaker. Glass on glass has a tendency to break or chip which could lead to it shattering. It can also lead to injuries like cuts or abrasions.

If you plan on making some cocktails, investing in a cocktail shaker is essential. However, you do not need to spend a fortune on them. Most brand new, mid grade shakers that would be great for home use are about $15-$25. You can also check out local thrift stores or garage sales and find vintage treasures. For some bartenders, nothing is as beautiful as a true 1950’s shaker to mix up some classic martinis in!


Cocktail shakers are a necessary and convenient tool bartenders have been using for decades to help craft your favorite drinks and cocktails. Today, there are 4 types of bar shakers that you can find and purchase.

The Boston shaker is a classic. It has a tin cup and a glass part that allows you to see what you are mixing. This is one of the more commonly used shakers by both professional and hobby bartenders alike.

Similar to the Boston shaker, but with an entirely tin design, the tin-on-tin shaker has been mixing up a lot of stir lately. As it is quickly gaining popularity for its convenience and durability, it may pass up the Boston shaker as the industry favorite.

The Parisian (French) shaker is also made of metal entirely. It has an elegant shaped lid that makes it a great option for keeping on display. Lastly, the Cobbler shaker is another favorite.

This shaker is three pieces, with a builtin strainer, making it easy to prevent splashes from fruit pulp or ice cubes as you pour the drink. Sadly, this one takes the most amount of time to clean and it can be a slow process.

Choosing the right shaker or size for you is a personal choice. Bartenders all have their own favorites and there is no right or wrong way to go! All the shaker options will have their pros and cons, so take some time to think which style would work best for you.

Chad Smith

Meet Chad Smith, a seasoned bartender with a passion for mixology. He's the founder of Tin Roof Drink Community, a blog where he shares expert tips, creative recipes, and fosters a vibrant community of cocktail enthusiasts and aspiring bartenders. Join Chad as he takes you on a flavorful journey through the world of drinks. Cheers!

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