First Bar Tool Purchases – Cocktail Shaker

Click to see on Amazon

Fifteen years ago I received a bar set as a wedding gift. It had all these tools stuck into one ice bucket with a smiley-faced mixer and some other strange looking tools. I had no idea what to do with it, except to put ice in the bucket. After it collected dust for a few years we donated it to Goodwill. Looking back, it wasn’t a bad set, but I probably would have replaced it by now, knowing what I know today. You can see in the image that it had an ice bucket, jigger, bottle opener, tongs, stirrer, bar knife, and strainer. Not exactly what I would start out with and not cheap, either!

Well what did I start with, then? I knew I needed a few key things and in this series of posts I’ll cover the basics.

1. Cocktail shaker

Click to see on Amazon

It’s obvious what a cocktail shaker is for. You put ingredients in, usually with ice, and you shake it all until it’s cold. Then you strain it into a glass.

I didn’t know much about shakers except there are three kinds. (See them in the slideshow at the end of this post.)

  • The Boston shaker: two cups, one metal and one glass, that fit together (pictured on the left)
  • The cobbler shaker: those metal three piece deals with the built in strainer and cap
  • The French shaker: two metal cups that fit together without the built in strainer. Less common in the U.S. but maybe they’re all over France, given the name.

Sometimes when I’m starting in on a hobby, I just want to see products in person so I impatiently go to a few local stores. The link here is from Amazon but I got the same shaker at my local BevMo! store. Strangely, I’ve found that most stores that primarily sell liquor don’t have a very good selection of barware. They have just enough to get you going, but options are scarce. It must not be worth their time to stock a good variety of liquor and tools. You could go to a Crate & Barrel or Williams Sonoma but their selection will be even more limited and far more expensive.

Something else I noticed is that the cobbler shaker is the most common one I saw in stores. This type always seems like a lot of trouble to me, with the cap and three pieces – I just like the simplicity of the Boston shaker. In the future I’ll try a cobbler and I may fall in love, but for now, I’m a Boston man.

So I bought this one at BevMo!. It was about $19. I was happy to have it and I thought the rubber ring around the glass might help a beginner like me get a good seal and not throw alcohol all over my kitchen. It also has recipes for various drinks printed on the side. Not knowing any better, I figured having those couldn’t hurt.

How well does it work? It’s been good for starting out. I’ve completely ignored the recipes printed on it. After the second time I used the shaker the rubber ring around the glass came off while I was washing it and was hard to get back on, so I left it off and eventually threw it away. I never see real bartenders use a glass with rubber on it, so why should I? Without the ring, it performed just as well, maybe even better. (One time I was using it with the rubber and some liquid came out onto my hands while shaking, but not since. It could have easily been my fault.) The glass itself is a little narrow inside, so if I want to stir a drink to mix, it seems a bit tight. I’ll need to report back when I’ve tried other glasses for that. I’m looking to get a dedicated mixing glass for stirring, but I’m holding off on that purchase for now since I have plenty of things I can stir a drink in.

Cocktail Shaker Slideshow (hover for details):

What do you recommend? What is your cocktail shaker of choice and why? Leave your feedback in the comments.

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