Aspiring mixologists and home bartenders know that one of the most necessary bar tools is the Boston shaker. It’s a classic piece of barware used for mixing cocktails and has been around for decades and continues to be a favorite of professional bartenders and hobbyists alike.
Stainless steel weightedunweighted Boston shaker, copyright A Bar Above

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History of the Boston Shaker

The Boston shaker has a long, rich history that dates back to the early 19th century. It is said to have originated in the United States and was initially used in hotels and bars in Boston, hence its name.
The earliest versions were made of tin and were similar in design to the liquor shaker. However, they were later replaced with glass, which allowed bartenders to see the color and consistency of the cocktail they were mixing.
Over the years, the design has evolved; and today, you can find them as two tins or one tin and one pint glass. Of course, there are other types of cocktail shakers, such as the three-piece shaker (cobbler shaker) with a built-in strainer. But today, we’ll focus on the two-piece shaker (Boston).
Personally, we do think this is the better option over a cobbler shaker, for a variety of reasons.
Copper boston shaker cocktail shaker

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Anatomy of the Boston Shaker

Boston shakers consists of two parts: either two shaker tins or the mixing tin & the mixing glass. Mixing tins are typically made of stainless steel, although some versions may be made of copper or other metals. Like most cups, it has a wider top than the bottom, which allows for easy pouring and straining.
The mixing glass or small tin can usually hold up to 16 ounces of liquid. It fits snugly into the larger mixing tin, creating a tight seal that prevents spills and leaks.
Note: Our Boston shaker is made of two food-safe stainless steel tins, as pint glasses break much more easily and are therefore way less durable. Some people like this version because you can see the liquid as you shake, but we just find them so fragile.
Shaking a cocktail in cocktail shaker

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How to Use the Boston Shaker

Using one may seem intimidating at first, but with a little practice, it becomes second nature. Here’s how to use the Boston shaker effectively:
  • Fill the small tin (or glass) with ice, and add the ingredients for your cocktail.
  • Place the larger mixing tin over the smaller tin, and tap it gently with your hand to create a tight seal.
  • Hold the shaker with one hand on each tin.
  • Shake the shaker vigorously for about 10-15 seconds to mix the ingredients and chill the cocktail.
  • Break the seal of the shaker by smacking it with your palm, and then separate the tins, larger tin on bottom (holding the drink).
  • Hold the larger tin over your serving glass, and use a Hawthorne strainer to strain the cocktail.
  • Garnish the cocktail with your choice of garnish, such as a lemon or lime wedge, a sprig of fresh herbs, or cocktail cherry on a cocktail pick.
  • Serve and enjoy your perfectly mixed and chilled cocktail.
Using a Boston shaker may take a bit of practice, but with patience and persistence, you’ll soon become a pro!
individual tools for drink mixing now available in black, including a Boston-style shaker, double jigger, and cocktail strainer

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Benefits of Using the Boston Shaker

There are several benefits to using this over other types of cocktail shakers. First and foremost, it’s a versatile tool that can be used to make a wide variety of cocktails, from classic Margaritas to trendy craft cocktails. It’s also durable and built to last, making it a worthwhile investment for any home bartender.
The stainless steel gives this classic bartender shaker a sleek and sophisticated look, and you don’t have to work about stuck-on lids or clogged built-in strainers.

Pouring a cocktail out of a Boston shaker

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Best Boston Shakers

When it comes to selecting the best Boston shaker, there are a couple factors to consider, including size, material, and quality.
Most Boston shakers are similarly sized, but some are only for single cocktails. Our shakers fit two cocktails at once, speeding up the cocktail-making process if you want to serve multiple people at once.
The A Bar Above Boston shaker is also made of high-quality, food-safe stainless steel with a circle-welded weight on the bottom so that it won’t fall off. Make sure your shaker is durable and well-made because it doesn’t save you money in the long run to buy cheap bar tools that you constantly have to replace!
1. popular cocktail of classic margarita recipe with 1 ounce orange liqueur and simple syrup and 1 ounce lime juice on a bar with cocktail shaker set

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Maintenance and Care of the Boston Shaker

To ensure it lasts for years to come, it’s essential to take proper care of your bar tools. After each use, rinse your shaker thoroughly with warm water and dish soap to remove any residual ingredients– or simply through your A Bar Above shaker in the dishwasher!
Avoid using abrasive sponges or cleaners that could scratch the surface of your shaker. Dry the shaker thoroughly with a towel to avoid rust spots, and then store it in a cool, dry place.
The Boston shaker is an absolute must-have bar tool for any home bartender. With proper care, your Boston shaker will make cocktails for years and years.

About Melanie Tornroth

A former English teacher, Melanie optimistically embraces the struggle that is work-from-home parenthood as the in-house writer for A Bar Above. When not responding to “Mom” and writing articles for ABA, she also runs Goodnickels Photography, loves to cuddle her cats, and is perfecting the art of keeping her pandemic “fermentation babies” alive.