If you’re just starting to look for a cocktail shaker to set up your home bar, you may be wondering whether you should buy a Boston shaker or a cobbler shaker. Here’s the low-down on the difference!
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Why Do You Need a Cocktail Shaker?
Some people who make mixed drinks at home wonder if they really need a cocktail shaker. The answer is YES.
While some drinks turn out fine when they are mixed with a spoon or simply poured into a glass and served, there are many cocktails that need to be shaken. Here are the benefits of shaking a cocktail:
- Shaking provides a thorough mixing of the ingredients.
- When using muddled fruits or herbs, shaking allows a further breakdown of the oils in the fresh ingredients, resulting in a more flavorful drink.
- For some recipes, shaking with ice provides a necessary dilution to the drink. The ice breaks down and melts as it cools your drink. Just pouring ingredients over ice and stirring does not chill or dilute the drink properly, or as fast as shaking.
- To get the best whiskey sour, you MUST use a real egg white and a dry shake.
- Shaking cocktail ingredients results in a smooth, slightly foamy, more luxurious mouthfeel.
So if you’re serious about making proper cocktails, you need a shaker. I recommend having both a Boston and a cobbler shaker, but if you can only choose one, read on to find out about the differences.
What is a Cobbler Shaker?
A cobbler shaker consists of one mixing tin, a top with a built-in strainer, and a cap that will usually serve as a measuring jigger. You pour your ingredients into the tin, add ice if desired, seal it with the strainer top and cap, then shake. To pour your drink into a glass, simply remove the cap and strain.
This type of cocktail shaker is often the choice of the home bartender because of its easy-to-use, all-in-one design. But it does have its limitations.
I find the cobbler shaker easy to use when I am making a simple drink that has no muddled ingredients. If I need to add fruit, mint leaves, or other herbs, those ingredients can get stuck in the strainer top and block the liquid from coming out. And the holes of the cobbler strainer are usually pretty big, allowing some pieces of ingredients to slip through.
The cobbler typically has the capacity for one drink, and it’s also prone to leaking when you shake. Another drawback is that residue of syrups, solid ingredients, and egg whites can get stuck in the strainer and cap. The cobbler needs a good washing between uses.
But for a quick margarita? I can easily use the cap to measure my ingredients, then shake, strain and enjoy. The cobbler is my go-to when I simply want to mix a few liquids.
I recommend this cobbler shaker set from Cresimo. It’s reasonably priced and comes with a jigger and bar spoon/muddler.
What is a Boston Shaker?
A Boston Shaker consists of two mixing containers that fit inside one another and create a seal for shaking cocktail ingredients. The first container is typically 28-ounces and made of tin. The second can be made of tin or glass and ranges in size from 12 to 18 ounces.
After pouring your ingredients into the larger tin, you put the smaller one inside and give it a little whack to create a seal. Then shake, shake, shake! Give it another whack to unseal, then place a strainer on top and strain into a glass.
The Boston shaker has a larger capacity than the cobbler, so it is often the choice of professional bartenders. It’s also easier to clean, and therefore more efficient if you need to make a lot of drinks.
But it’s also excellent for the home bartender. You can easily make two drinks in the Boston shaker, and as mentioned above, it’s the better choice when you are muddling ingredients that need to be strained out.
The cons? With the Boston shaker, you’ll need a separate strainer and jigger. Making – and breaking – the seal on this type of cocktail shaker also might take a little practice. Some home bartenders find this a nuisance.
I have read many times that cobbler shakers are more likely to get stuck together than Boston shakers. In my experience, that completely depends on the quality of the shaker. My cobbler shaker rarely gets stuck because it’s very easy to take the measuring cap off and release the pressure (but it also leaks more often and is messier!). I have a glass-on-tin Boston shaker that gets stuck all the time. I recommend the tin-on-tin Boston shaker from A Bar Above. It occasionally gets stuck, but a good whack is all that’s needed to separate it. It just takes practice.
Bottom line? If you’re serious about making cocktails, consider a Boston shaker. If you just want something that will shake quickly and you don’t often muddle ingredients, the cobbler shaker will do you fine. But I still say your best option is to buy them both!
Looking for more ideas to set up your home bar? Check out our favorite bar tools and accessories!