Tuesday Tools & Tricks #2: Sh-Sh-Shakers!

Boston Shaker

Happy Tuesday, everyone! For today’s Tools & Tricks we decided to answer a burning question sent in by several of our readers about a very important topic: cocktail shakers.

Lets get started!

To start off, lets talk a bit about shakers. Since we have gotten some questions, we wanted to take a moment to clear a few things up.

There are several different cocktail shakers out there, and although we prefer the Boston style (as seen above), we do not want anyone to be confused by recipes for shaken drinks if you do not use this type of shaker.

In the shaker game, it really comes down to personal preference, and if you are more comfortable with something like what is pictured below, go for it.

photo (19)

The only important difference to note is that you will want to fill this type of shaker up with more ice than what we note in our recipes before you shake a drink–we recommend about 3/4 full. You use less ice in a Boston shaker to leave room to fit the two pieces together, but that is not a worry here. What you should be sure to check with in these shakers are the seams–these can often leak, especially the cheaper versions. You do not want half your drink ending up on the floor (and all over you) instead of your glass, right?

Now, if we can, lets take a quick aside to talk about some history. The two-part Boston shaker using one tin half and one glass half was developed in the pre-prohibition era as a way for upstanding bartenders to prove to their patrons that they were not being ripped off. In your bar travels you may have encountered a two-piece shaker with two tin halves, one large and one small, rather than the glass/tin combo–these were used a lot in the pre-prohibition era, and the small half came to be known as the “Cheater Tin.”

This is a stander shaker using a cheater tin. Ingredients are poured into the smaller half prior to shaking.

This is a stander shaker using a cheater tin. Ingredients are poured into the smaller half prior to shaking.

Since it was opaque, bartenders would often only pretend to include all of the ingredients in a drink–especially when it came to the amount of alcohol–thereby cheating their customers out of the real deal. The half glass/half tin Boston shaker was developed as a way to prove to patrons that their bartenders were actually making the drink they ordered, since you could watch exactly what was going into the glass.

As an aside: When I learned about the cheater tin’s origins, all I could imagine were cowboys walking into a Western saloon, getting cheated out of a proper drink, and then challenging the bartenders to a shootout in the town square in order to settle the score. I hope that is what you will think of from now on too.

In reality, the cheater tin shaker is actually the most secure and easiest to use (it is far lighter and less breakable than the Boston shaker), but you do not see them as often in stores.

In the end, just use what you are comfortable with. The most important thing is that you strain your drinks properly once they have been shaken, so as long as you are doing that you could just fit two plastic cups together for all we care.

(Please don’t do that. We really do care.) 



1 thought on “Tuesday Tools & Tricks #2: Sh-Sh-Shakers!

  1. I prefer the Boston over the Cobbler. I can never seem to get the lid off the Cobbler once its chilled from a good icy shake. As you point out, everyone has there own style and they all work. Enjoyed the read, thanks.

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