6 best cocktail shakers to inspire your inner mixologist Register for free to continue reading

If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that a home bar is not a luxury: it’s a necessity. And whether yours is squirrelled away in the back of a kitchen cupboard, or carefully arranged on a stylish vintage cart, any bar’s essential centrepiece is a quality cocktail shaker.

Even if you’re not looking to flair bartend à la 1980s Tom Cruise, cocktail-making is a somewhat theatrical process, so you obviously want a vessel that looks good. But perhaps the biggest consideration when choosing a cocktail shaker, aside from price, is style.

Boston shakers, the style most often seen in bars, are formed of two semi-equal halves that are wedged together to create a seal. They’re easy to clean, hold a fair bit – double daiquiris, anyone? – and are quick to assemble, so can turn out a high volume of drinks.

The downside is that you need to invest in a separate Hawthorne-style strainer for pouring. And they take practice to master; fail to seal the shaker correctly and you’ll be wearing, not drinking, that whisky sour.

On the other hand, three-piece cobbler shakers are the bartending beginner’s friend. Besides having the benefit of a built-in strainer (which can be troublesome to clean), their lids are easier to fit and grip while shaking.

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How we tested

We’ve included both cocktail shaker styles in our round-up below, testing for chill speed, durability, pourability and ease of cleaning.

While the shakers are suited to different occasions – some perfect for parties, others for civilised martini hours – we control-tested each with the same supermarket-sized ice cubes and a readymade espresso martini mix to keep an even playing field. Shaked at a constant rate for 15 seconds, every one turned out a happy hour-worthy pour. Cheers!

The best cocktail shakers for 2021 are:

Beaumont tiki shaker set

Best: Overall

Cocktail-making should be about having fun, and that’s one reason we love this Boston-style shaker. It comes with real personality, via an engraved tropical exterior of flip flops, palm trees and jumping dolphins. And somehow, it doesn’t feel too kitsch; viewed from afar this shaker simply looks like a gorgeously designed bit of barware that’s far more sophisticated than its bargainous £20 price tag would have you believe.

It works a treat, too – not unexpectedly, given it’s been created by champion flair bartender Tom Dyer. The tin-on-tin design (as opposed to the classic Boston tin and glass style) cools your cocktail quick-smart – one of the benefits of an all-metallic shaker. It’s also light, which is handy for cocktail enthusiasts who don’t boast Joe Wicks-grade upper-body strength. Simple and speedy to clean, and durable, it’ll suit a Friday night shaking session with friends as much as Tuesday night gimlet hour.


Nick Munro trombone cocktail shaker

Best: For swanky retro pours

Style and function in perfect harmony. This cobbler from Nick Munro, inspired by the stylings of the 1930s, looks beautiful, but unlike so many designer cocktail shakers, it’s not purely ornamental. The mirrored 18/10 stainless steel exterior is a shiny step up from run-of-the-mill shakers, and even after multiple uses ours polished up good as new after a wipe with a soft cloth.

It works well, too. Nick Munro designs barware for hospitality – you’ll find the kit at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and The Wolseley – and the products pay attention to the details. The rubber ring around the lid not only gives a tight seal – avoiding spills and letting you pour confidently with a single hand – but also prevents the shaker halves from freezing shut (usually a bugbear with cobblers). Meanwhile, the Christmas cracker-shape provides grippy end points that don’t get cold as you mix, sparing you from the dreaded frozen-hand feeling that typically accompanies metallic shakers.

Keep in mind that this one is on the smaller size – just 450ml – so it’s best suited to evenings where you’re sticking to just one or two perfect pours. Make ours a vesper...


Nude Hepburn cocktail shaker with metal top

Best: For design geeks

6 best cocktail shakers to inspire your inner mixologist Register for free to continue reading

What a looker! Topped with a shiny brass cap, and sporting a lead-free crystalline glass base, this sleek Boston-style cocktail shaker is the very definition of a bar cart centrepiece. It looked so picture-perfect straight from the box that we were almost afraid to use it.

But use it we did, and we found it to be practical as well as stylish. The copper top cools down almost immediately following contact with ice, and our shaking session led to a perfectly chilled, frothy espresso martini. The clear base (which is dishwasher safe) is a smidge on the heavy side, but it let us get a good look at what was happening as we mixed our drink.

For all its benefits, keep in mind that this is a cocktail shaker designed for thoughtful, measured shake-ups, not a workhorse for turning out margaritas at 2am on a Friday night. The glass, while durable, is obviously breakable, and the copper needs real care – it’s recommended that you dry it directly after use to keep it looking dashing.


Viners 500ml brushed cocktail shaker

Best: Budget cocktail shaker

It doesn’t get much more classic than this. With its brushed metallic surface and typical three-piece cobbler design, this shaker might not have the visual bells and whistles of some of the others on this list, but the cleverness is in its simplicity. It gets the job done, with a firm-fitting three-piece lid that doesn’t slip open, even with a precarious one-handed pour.

And it does pour well, through multiple holes and a fairly wide (for a cobbler) in-built strainer. It’s one of the easiest cobblers here to clean, too, partly thanks to the gently sloping – rather than severely inverted – spout.

If we had a criticism, it’s the age-old one for classic steel-on-steel cobbler shakers: when it’s very cold, the lid can sometimes clamp on and prove tricky to budge. But it’s a rather minor complaint for a shaker under £10. If you’re only making cocktails now and then, it’s hard to find fault here.


Funky Chunky Furniture premier cocktail shaker set

Best: For mojito maniacs

While we’ve largely focused on solo cocktail shakers here, rather than cocktail-making sets, we’ve made an exception with this one – it’s pretty clever. Built from a jam jar base, with a screw-on strainer lid, and packed with a measuring glass and muddler, it’s effectively everything you need to make stirred cocktails – think mojitos, old fashioned’s and caipirinhas – as well as shaken ones.

The wide, clear base not only holds a fair bit (800ml), but it lets you see everything as it sloshes around, so you know when your drink is properly mixed. The lid, given it’s screwed on tight, is foolproof too. Basically, this is a great choice for cocktail novices who want something that does it all, or for enthusiasts who want a fun, backup mixer to stash away in a picnic basket or beach hut.

Our only criticism? The pouring process, given it’s coming from a big, kinda clunky jam jar, is a little less romantic than with some other models. Fine if you’re making fun and fruity tropical concoctions; less on-point for glam 007-style martini evenings.


Shabby Store mother of pearl cocktail shaker

Best: For cocktail parties

At a luxuriously roomy 950ml, this mega-sized cobbler shaker is great for a crowd – by whipping up several cocktails in one go, more of your time can be spent socialising and less playing bartender. And yet, despite its towering stature, it maintains a classy air, with a mother of pearl inlay collar and polished stainless steel finish.

The downside to the spacious interior: you will need a fair bit of ice to operate this thing. Under-fill and you risk cube breakage when shaking, which will unpleasantly dilute drinks as well as clog up the filter when you start straining. But consider this; while it seems like a lot of ice to use for just a couple of drinks, it’s amazingly efficient if you’re making lots.

One last note: keep a firm grip on the cap. When left to its own devices we found ours had a tendency to pop off during, and even after, shaking.


Cocktail shaker FAQs

Cleaning your cocktail shaker: Can they go in the dishwasher?

Keeping your cocktail shaker clean is the best way to ensure its longevity, but there are different ways to approach cleaning each part of the shaker.

While shakers made out of glass or stainless steel can go in the dishwasher, designs with painted markings or rubber rings around the lid are at risk of breaking dishwashers, so make sure you always clean them by hand.

Tin lids, measuring glasses and traditional strainers are always best washed by hand, but mesh strainers can go in the dishwasher.

What size cocktail shaker do I need?

A shaker that holds 600ml or less is perfect for happy hour for one, but you’ll need a 700ml and above shaker for rustling up cocktails for gatherings.

What should you look for when buying a cocktail shaker?

There are three main types of cocktail shakers; the cobbler shaker, the boston shaker, the french shaker.

The most common is the cobbler shaker, which consists of three parts, a metal tumbler, a metal lid with a built-in strainer, and a metal cap to cover the strainer. This one is the best for a cocktail novice as it is easy to use, although can be a challenge to separate.

The Boston shaker is more popular with cocktail professionals and consists of two parts; a mixing glass and a metal tumbler. It is great if you know what you are doing, and are hosting a large party as it can hold more liquid. But, beware, it can be a bit fiddly and requires two hands to use.

Lastly, the French shaker, this one looks great but is largely for show and can be very tricky to use.

The verdict: Cocktail shakers

Walking the line between fun, fabulousness and functionality, Beaumont’s Tiki cocktail shaker is a worthwhile buy. It feels like a really solid purchase for under £20, though of course, you’ll have to be comfortable using a Boston-style shaker and buying your own separate strainer.

For those looking to channel jazz-age glamour, Nick Munro’s trombone fuses utility with finesse. It’s gorgeous enough to take centre stage on a bar cart, but we still wouldn’t have any qualms about using it on a weekly basis.

Finally, if you’re looking for a classic cobbler shaker that gets the job done on a budget, you could do far worse than pick up Viner’s 500ml brushed cocktail shaker.

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