If you fancy yourself as a bit of an at-home mixologist, a good quality cocktail shaker is in an essential piece of kit. Although not every cocktail needs a vigorous shake (the old fashioned likes a good stir, while mojitos prefer a muddle) a wide range, from the classic daiquiri to the more modern picante, simply cannot be made without one.
Apart from making a stylish addition to your drinks trolley, there’re a few good reasons to invest in a shaker. The first is to make sure all your ingredients are properly combined – stirring won’t produce quite the same result, particularly with creamy drinks or those that need a little froth such as a pisco sour.
Secondly, you want to start the cooling process without watering your drink down. By using big ice cubes in your shaker, you’ll make your drink perfectly smooth and consistently cool (this is particularly important if you’re using lots of spirits and little or no mixer) without heavily diluting it. If you left these ice cubes in your glass, by the end of your drink you might end up with a less than desirable watery mess.
The good news is you really needn’t spend a lot to get yourself a great shaker, with styles in our round-up starting at under five pounds.
There are a few different types to choose from, each with their own pros and cons, so we asked Richard Maxted, founder of bespoke cocktail events company Mix & Muddle, what to look for in a good shaker.
He says: “As a home bartender, I'd say opt for a three piece cobbler shaker with a good solid lid and base. That way, you've got ultimate control over your shake and there’s less likelihood of it spilling its delicious ingredients everywhere.”
Also, ice is your friend. Fill the shaker right to the brim with ice. Not only will you get a better seal on the shaker, but you'll also get a better blended cocktail.“
Cocktail shakers vary in size, so when making your selection, consider how many drinks you’ll be likely to make at any one time. Bigger isn't always better, especially if you only have small hands.
Are you looking for something purely practical or doubling up as decorative? We found plenty of styles promising to add a little extra appeal to your bar cart. A snazzy shaker also makes an excellent gift for the hard-to-buy-for person who has a birthday coming up.
When putting our shakers to the test, we were looking out for styles that were easy to handle, a doddle to clean and ultimately, made the perfect serve. Some shakers have the annoying habit of seizing up when they get cold, making it difficult to prise the lid off. A gentle tap on the countertop or briefly running under a warm tap should do the trick.
For more cocktail inspiration, read our guide to of three-ingredient (or less) cocktails to enjoy at home.
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KitchenCraft cocktail shaker
This brand excels when it comes to hard-working homeware pieces and this cocktail shaker is no exception. Made from hardy stainless steel, the ridged exterior makes it easy to hold on to, even when doing your best bartender impression. There’s an internal strainer so no need for additional kit and a recipe leaflet is included to get you started on the classics.
M&S stainless steel cocktail shaker
Made from tough stainless steel, this no-nonsense shaker is perfect for large parties, as it’s capable of making two or three cocktails at a time. Easy to clean and hardy enough to use without fear of breaking, we are big fans of the fact it can all go in the dishwasher when you’re finished.
Nikita by Niki gold cocktail shaker
If you’re looking for a shaker that will add a little something to the decor as well as being practical – we think we’ve found just the solution. This stylish piece is made up of three parts, including the thick textured glass jug which makes it easier to grip with wet fingers. The strainer and lid are both a high-shine gold material making this a pretty moving-in present (let’s just hope they invite you round for drinks once they’ve unpacked).
Eva Solo cocktail shaker
This clever little shaker is a little pricier than some of the others we put to the test but it works really well and the sleek design looks the part too. As with the Boston shaker featured below, ingredients are added to the main jug, however, the lid here is made of silicone which makes it easy to take on and off without jamming and avoids any messy drips. When you’re ready to pour, just rotate the lid towards the spout – the ice cubes will stay put and your lovely cool drink will flow out. We’re told it also works a treat when making salad dressings too. Neat and tidy, the whole lot can be chucked in the dishwasher when you’re finished with it.
AG stainless steel cocktail shaker
Japanese cocktail shakers are often considered some of the best in the world and this high-quality piece of kit is no exception. There’s a pleasing weight to it, thanks to the relatively thick steel, but the curvy design means it’s probably better for bigger hands. With a 500ml capacity, there’s plenty of room to mix a couple of cocktails at a time.
Drinkstuff professional Boston cocktail shaker
Proving you really needn’t spend a fortune on a good cocktail shaker, Drinkstuff’s Boston shaker comes in at under a fiver. It’s designed with professionals in mind, so if you’re new to cocktail making it might take you a few goes to get the hang of using this style of shaker. Comprising just two parts – a glass and a tin – the trick is to add your ingredients to the glass before jamming the tin on top, creating a nice snug seal. Although a bargain, you will need to buy an additional strainer in order to decant into your glass.
Kikkerland Design mix master cocktail shaker
Equal parts fun and functional, this three-piece shaker features a glass jug with classic cocktail recipes inscribed on the glass for you to follow. Simply add the ingredients in the order laid out and pour away. Featuring recipes for the white Russian, sex on the beach, cosmopolitan and more, it’s a good streamlined solution to following instructions without needing to turn to your phone or a recipe book.
Design Letters cocktail shaker
Make a homeware statement with this stylish matte black cobbler-style shaker from Design Letters. Featuring typography from Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, the brand sells a matching cooler and carafe – as a trio they spell out “mix cool drinks” to make a complete set. The added benefit of this over some of the cheaper shakers is the silicone lid, making it a doddle to open and close, with a capacity of 500ml (enough for two drinks).
The verdict: Cocktail shakers
When it comes to cocktail shakers, for us, simplicity is key. KitchenCraft has come up with a user-friendly shaker that’s big enough for two cocktails at a time with a shape that’s easy to handle. Dishwasher-friendly and with the added benefit of coming with a few recipes to get you started, it ticks all of our boxes.
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