Cocktail shakers are essential tools for any aspiring mixologist or home bartender. While stirring drinks with a long spoon can be effective for some cocktails, a cocktail shaker adds an element of excitement and flair to your home bar. It allows you to mix, chill, and dilute your concoctions quickly and effectively. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of how to use a cocktail shaker to create impressive and refreshing cocktails.

Types of Cocktail Shakers

Before we dive into the steps of using a cocktail shaker, let’s explore the two most common types of cocktail shakers: the cobbler shaker and the Boston shaker.

  1. Cobbler Shaker:
    • The cobbler shaker consists of three parts: a metal tin, a lid with a built-in strainer, and a cap.
    • It’s user-friendly and suitable for beginners because it’s easy to assemble and disassemble.
    • The built-in strainer eliminates the need for an additional strainer.
  2. Boston Shaker:
    • The Boston shaker is a two-piece shaker set, typically comprised of a metal tin and a mixing glass.
    • It’s a favorite among professional bartenders and enthusiasts for its versatility.
    • You’ll need an external strainer (a Hawthorne strainer or julep strainer) to strain the cocktail when using a Boston shaker.

Using a Cobbler Shaker

Now, let’s explore how to use a cobbler shaker:

  1. Measure Your Ingredients:
    • Begin by measuring the ingredients for your cocktail. Use a jigger or a measuring glass to ensure precision.
  2. Add Ice:
    • Fill the cobbler shaker with ice. Adding ice is essential for chilling and diluting the cocktail properly.
  3. Combine Ingredients:
    • Pour your measured ingredients into the shaker tin over the ice.
  4. Assemble the Shaker:
    • Place the lid on the shaker tin and ensure it’s securely fastened.
  5. Shake It Up:
    • Hold the shaker with both hands and shake vigorously for about 10-15 seconds. Make sure the lid is facing away from you to prevent any accidental spills.
  6. Strain and Serve:
    • To pour your cocktail, remove the cap, which acts as a strainer, and pour the cocktail into your glass.

Using a Boston Shaker

Using a Boston shaker involves a slightly different process:

  1. Measure Your Ingredients:
    • As with the cobbler shaker, start by measuring your cocktail ingredients.
  2. Add Ice:
    • Fill the metal tin of the Boston shaker with ice.
  3. Combine Ingredients:
    • Pour your measured ingredients into the metal tin over the ice.
  4. Assemble the Shaker:
    • Place the mixing glass on top of the metal tin, ensuring a snug fit.
  5. Shake It Up:
    • Hold the Boston shaker with one hand on the metal tin and the other on the mixing glass. Shake vigorously for about 10-15 seconds.
  6. Strain and Serve:
    • Use an external strainer (e.g., Hawthorne or julep strainer) to pour your cocktail into a glass.


Mastering the art of using a cocktail shaker is a fun and essential skill for any home bartender. Whether you prefer the simplicity of a cobbler shaker or the versatility of a Boston shaker, the key to success lies in proper measurement, ample ice, and confident shaking. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to crafting delicious cocktails that will impress your guests and elevate your mixology game. Cheers!

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