You don’t have to be an expert to recognize a cocktail shaker from afar. It’s considered one of the most basic tools in bartending and mixology and is often the center of attraction when a bartender starts entertaining the customers as they wait for their drink.
But contrary to what many people think, it’s not all just for show. Shaking is an essential part of the cocktail mixing process and the shaker plays an important role in that. But what exactly does it do and what do you need to know about it?
What is a cocktail shaker?
Cocktail shakers are tools used to efficiently blend cocktails in a timely fashion. Our ancestors made use of a shake mixers in the past. People in South America used gourds. The same was done in Egypt thousands of years in the past. It has since evolved and in the 19th century received its signature design that is widely known today. But as it evolved, it has also been classified into three very basic designs—Boston cocktail shaker, cobbler cocktail shaker, and French cocktail shaker. Each shaker has its own distinct characteristics that makes it more appropriate to use for certain types of drinks.
Three basic types of cocktail shakers
This is a two-piece cocktail shaker which consists a metal part and a glass part. The tempered glass functions as a mixing glass and it is so easy to separate because of the different temperature changes between the glass and metal. And since the glass is transparent, it is very easy to work with liquids having different colors and consistencies. This cocktail shaker is also larger than the other types, which could be both an advantage or a disadvantage for some people.
This type of shaker comes with three different parts: the shaker, the lid, and the built-in strainer. With its design, a cobbler shaker is easier to control, shake, and strain. And as long as you’re sure that the lid is properly sealed, you won’t have to worry about spillage or leaks.
The drawback of this style, though, is separating the parts when it’s cold. Unlike the Boston cocktail shaker, all of its parts are made of stainless steel and they basically react the same way towards changes in temperature. It is especially hard to separate when it’s vacuum shut due to the very low pressure. However, once you get used to that and you’re familiar with how the shaker works, it’s really a very good shaker to use and make cocktails with.
This type of shaker closely resembles a Boston shaker because it also has two parts. Many mixology enthusiasts consider this as the original or the standard cocktail shaker; and is actually very common and readily available. It is also challenging to separate, just like the cobbler shaker. Considering its features, it’s kind of the cross between the other two cocktail shakers.
Once you know the distinction among these three types of cocktail shaker, it’s time to learn some tips on how to shake your drinks properly.
- Avoid making a splash as much as possible. Of course, there’s a beginner phase where you’re still beginning to learn the techniques in making cocktails, but you have to practice splashing less as you go along. Splashing means waste, which is not good if you’re working with expensive liquors
- There are no proven differences between the way you shake the drink. It doesn’t matter what moves you do; the bottom line is that the drink is shaken well
- To avoid high levels of dilution, avoid using crushed ice. It turns into liquid quickly and it makes it very hard to predict the taste of the drink afterwards because of too much dilution
- It is a good practice to first put ice in the shaker before adding the liquor, but for dry shaking, or drinks which contain cream and eggs, it is always better to shake the mixture first without ice
While stirring and blending are equally effective mixing techniques, they often produce different results and consistencies for particular cocktail recipes. The shaker is naturally cylindrical in shape and is usually made of stainless steel material for efficient heat conduction, thereby cooling the mixture with ice faster than any other material would allow.