For bartenders and other drink professionals, a cocktail shaker is a key tool—possibly the key tool—needed to make great cocktails.
Of course, not all drinks are shaken. Some drinks are stirred using a mixing glass and barspoon or are built directly in the glass and don’t need a shaker.
But a great many cocktails rely on shakers to incorporate citrus or other juices, froth egg whites and add the right amount of chill and dilution, thanks to the ice rattling about.
So how do you select a shaker?
There are a few basic types: Two-piece styles include the tin-on-tin shaker, which many bartenders prefer because they chill effectively and don’t break (many bartenders strongly suggest using weighted versions for superior control); the Boston shaker, which consists of a pint glass and a large shaking tin; and the attractively tapered Parisian or Parisienne shaker.
The three-piece cobbler shaker, which features a large metal tin, tapered top with a built-in strainer and a cap, is another option.
“Cocktails shakers are like pans for chefs,” says Valentino Longo, head bartender at Miami’s Lido Restaurant & Champagne Bar at the Four Seasons at the Surf Club and founder of Shōshin Art Club. Longo keeps multiple styles and sizes behind the bar. “Each shaker does a different job, and it is extremely important to get to know them and use it for the right purposes.”
Here are a few shakers that bartenders recommend.
1. The Birdy Cocktail Shaker
Among three-piece cobbler shakers, a top pick was the super-rounded Birdy. It was designed by London bartender Erik Lorincz, previously head bartender at the American Bar at The Savoy Hotel.
“For cocktails that have only spirits or a very low amount of juice/syrup such as a Vesper, martini or a classic margarita, I usually prefer to use a cobbler shaker or Japanese shaker,” says Longo. “My favorite is Birdy by Erik Lorincz. With this shaker you have to use a very particular technique created by Japanese bartenders, where basically the ice inside floats in circles, giving the right aeration to the drink without giving dilution.”
2. Set of Koriko Weighted Shaking Tins
Koriko weighted tin-on-tin shakers are the industry standard among bartenders. The stainless steel version is priced under $20, whereas matte black goes for $35.
“They’re fairly cheap, very durable [and] they seal beautifully,” says Deke Dunne, bar director at Allegory in Washington, D.C.
Dunne also says they have “a really nice feel and [are] easy to get apart. They don’t stick, so you’re never stuck with a couple of shakers full when they won’t crack. I’ve been using these for years.”
“Koriko is tried and true for a reason,” says Ben Lieppman, bar manager at RPM Seafood in Chicago. “It’s durable, has the perfect amount of weight and is easy to get a seal to prevent leakage.”
3. Piña Stainless Steel Bar Boston Shaker
Another weighted two-piece, Piña Barware bills its shakers as ergonomically correct and built specifically for use in the commercial service industry.
Bartenders warn that the Piña shakers are a bit larger and heavier than most other brands, so be prepared to build your biceps.
4. Mixing Tin Set
Also a weighted tin-on-tin style, bartenders described this Boston-made workhorse as particularly durable.
“They have a solid, continuous weld all around the base [that’s] still very discrete, as opposed to the standard 3- 4- or 5-point welding that most others have,” says Miguel Lancha, cocktail innovator at ThinkFoodGroup in Washington, D.C.
5. Tattoo Weighted Tin On Tin Shaker
The tattoo pattern line, made with food-safe black ink, adds personality to barware, including shakers.
“There are three things I look for in a shaker: aesthetics, weight and function,” says Chockie Tom, founder of the Doom Tiki pop-up in New York City and London. “My favorite[s] are the tattoo and matte black. Additionally, the octagonal shakers have been key for the cocktail development I do, especially as someone with grip [strength] issues occasionally due to long Covid. It’s easier to grip, and I’ve recommended them to arthritic cocktail enthusiasts as well.”
6. Heavyweight Cocktail Shakers
“Viski’s Boston shaker is my current go-to for most consulting jobs and events,” says Kristine Bocchino, U.S. and European beverage consultant in Los Angeles and Milan, and former beverage director for Four Seasons hotels. “They also make a great, affordable starter set.”
7. Double Wall Shaker
A small but vocal group of bartenders embraces the Parisian style for its ability to mix multiple drinks in style, so this is ideal for those who like to entertain.
“Williams Sonoma has this really cool double-walled Parisian style shaker,” says Shannon Mustipher, spirits educator and consultant in New York City. “I just love the shape for shaking a batch of martinis in one go, because of the capacity of it. They look really beautiful, but it’s practical at the same time.”
8. Stainless Steel Cobbler Shaker
Since the three-piece shaker was popularized by Japanese bartenders, it makes sense that Yukiwa, a producer from Japan, also was highlighted. Some pros also use Yukiwa’s two-piece sets.
“When I discovered the tin-on-tin Yukiwa, it was a revelation,” says Julian de Féral, an international cocktail consultant based in London. “They are sturdy, with no give at all, and they fit together like a dream. I also like that they have no seam, so less place for grime to hide. The finishes are also lovely—the matte finish I chose really stands out as a point of difference on a bar. The downside is that they are several times more expensive than Korikos; however, I see them as a lifetime investment.”
9. A Bar Above
These Boston shaker sets in various finishes, including gold, copper and bronze, gather praise for their durability. “For me, it’s the quality and longevity for price,” says Anthony DeSerio, a Branford, Connecticut-based beverage professional/consultant. “The plating stays on and over time shows no wear and tear. They can take a beating.”
Michael Goff of NYC’s Moonrise Izakaya feels similarly about a weighted model. “The weld on those weighted end caps goes all the way around instead of spot welding, so they seem to hold up a lot better,” he says.
10. Brushed Steel Bull in China Weighted Shaking Tins
This two-set tin is made with weighted bottoms for extra stability.
“I’ve been using mine behind the bar every night for six years now and haven’t lost a weight,” says Jason Pollard, managing partner at The Usual in Fort Worth, Texas. While the matte brushed-steel finish is “sexy,” Pollard says, it’s functional too, minimizing fingerprints and making it easier to grip with wet hands.
11. Crafthouse by Fortessa The Signature Collection Boston Shaker
Part of a larger bar collection designed by Chicago bar veteran Charles Joly, this shaker has plenty of fans among fellow pros. Kim Haasarud, founder and owner of The Cocktail Collaborative in Phoenix, Arizona, lauds the thoughtful design touches, such as a footed bottom on the shakers so they don’t tip over easily.
“I definitely have my klutzy moments behind the bar,” she says with a laugh.
Plus, she says, “the smaller tin is also ribbed so if you slide it into the bigger tin, it doesn’t get stuck.” Similarly, Ryan Hooks, bar manager at Los Angeles’s Alma Cocina, points out that the tins are “designed slightly narrower to fit men’s and women’s hands easily.”
12. Leopold Shaking Tins
Meanwhile, Staten Island, New York-based independent consultant Nick Venditti recommends the elegant but sturdy Leopold shaking tins sold by Cocktail Kingdom. “The shape and seal is just a bit more refined than the standard Korikos,” he explains. Bonus: “The lip on the bottom opens up a whole new world of tin flip tricks—if you’re into that sort of thing.”
13. Sertodo Copper
“They’re beautiful,” says Evan Geske, former lead mixologist of Florida’s Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, of this eye-catching hammered copper shaker set. Plus, he says, he’s done a side-by-side comparison with a stainless steel shaker and finds that “drinks actually get colder in [Sertodo’s model], as the copper transfers the heat away.”
However, “copper is fussy,” he warns. “It takes some polishing to look new again, but they come right back.”