The Boston shaker is one of the most– if not the most– essential bar tools for any mixologist or bartender. It is a two-piece cocktail shaker that consists of a metal tin and a mixing glass or another, smaller tin. This shaker has been around for over a century, and its popularity has only continued to grow because of its functionality.
History of the Boston Shaker
The Boston shaker was first invented in the mid-19th century. While its exact origins are unclear, many believe it was developed by a bartender in Boston. Initially, the shaker was made from a simple tin and was often used in conjunction with a mixing glass.
However, over time, the design evolved to include metal tin, and either a glass or second tin. Being made of all metal makes it less fragile and therefore more durable.
One of the reasons why the Boston shaker became so popular is because of its simplicity. It’s easy to use and does not require a lot of skill to get started. Additionally, it’s a versatile tool that can be used to make a wide variety of cocktails from the classic Manhattan to the modern-day Cosmopolitan.
No matter what you’re making, the best cocktail shakers are an essential part of any mixologist’s arsenal.
Anatomy of the Boston Shaker
The Boston shaker is made up of two main parts: the metal tin and the pint glass or second, smaller tin. The two parts are designed to fit together snugly to create a leak-proof seal. This seal is essential for creating a good cocktail, as it allows the ingredients to be shaken vigorously without spilling.
Large Metal Tin
The large metal tin is typically made of stainless steel and is the larger of the two parts. It is a straight-sided vessel that is designed to hold the cocktail ingredients, ice, and the smaller mixing glass or tin.
The large metal tin usually has a wider mouth than the other part, making it easier to add ingredients and ice. It is also weighted, which helps to create a tight seal when the two parts are joined together. The metal tin is typically held with one hand, and it is important to grip it firmly to ensure a secure fit when shaking.
Pint Glass or Small Tin
The second component is either pint glass crafted from tempered glass or another, small stainless tin. In recent years, it’s much more common to use two stainless steel shaker tins for durability, as glass can break fairly easily in the cocktail-making process.
Whatever the material, this second cup is the smaller of the two parts and fits snugly inside the larger metal tin. Once in the tin, the tight-fitting seal between the two keeps the cups securely in place while you shake. If you need to separate them, you can tap the side of the larger tin with your palm to break the seal.
Advantages of the Boston Shaker
This shaker is a classic tool that has been used by bartenders for over a century. Here are some advantages of using this type of shaker:
- Versatility – It is one of the most versatile bar tools available. It can be used to make a wide variety of cocktails, whether by stirring simple classics like the Martini and Manhattan or shaking more complex drinks like the Mai Tai and Margarita.
- Speed – The Boston shaker allows bartenders to make cocktails quickly and efficiently. It is easy to use and requires minimal setup time, making it ideal for busy bars and restaurants.
- Aesthetics – A visually appealing tool that adds a touch of elegance to any bar, the Boston shaker is often used in high-end cocktail bars and is a favorite among mixologists and bartenders.
- Durability – Made from high-quality materials, it’s designed to last for years, especially when made completely from stainless steel. It can withstand frequent use and is less likely to break or crack than other types of cocktail shakers.
- Easy to Clean – It is easy to clean and maintain. It can be washed with warm soapy water and dried thoroughly before being stored away or thrown in the dishwasher for very easy cleaning.
- No Strainer Needed – The metal tin is designed to create a tight seal when the two parts are joined together, allowing for easy pouring without any ice. However, a separate Hawthorne strainer is recommended when working with any ingredients that include herbs, fruit, egg whites, or pulp.
Popular Boston Shaker Cocktails
This is the perfect tool for making a wide variety of cocktails. Some of the most popular cocktails that can be made with this include the Margarita, Daiquiri, Whiskey Sour, and Sidecar. Additionally, it is great for making modern-day cocktails like the Long Island Iced tea and Gin Fizz.
Proper Use and Maintenance
To use it properly, you will need to follow a few simple steps. First, add your ingredients to the mixing glass or smaller tin. Next, place the larger tin on top of the smaller one, and give it a firm tap to create a tight seal. Finally, shake the cocktail vigorously until it is well mixed, about 10-15 seconds.
To maintain your Boston shaker, it is important to clean it after each use. If yours is not dishwasher-safe, simply separate the two parts and wash them with warm soapy water. Be sure to dry them thoroughly before storing them away. If you notice any stubborn stains or discoloration on the shaker, you can try using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to remove them.
For what it’s worth, the A Bar Above Boston shaker is dishwasher-safe, making it super duper easy to use and clean!
The Boston shaker is one of the best bar tools that every bartender and mixologist should have. Its versatility, simplicity, and ability to create a wide variety of cocktails make it a must-have in any bar.
If you are in the market for the best Boston shaker, be sure to hop over to our shop and grab yours today.
I already have a metal Boston shaker but I am not able to separate it after shaking. I am an older woman FYI. I want to purchase yours…would it be better for me to get “weighted” or “weighted/unweighted”? Does “weighted” mean both halves are weighted and not just the large one? Thanks for your time.
Hi there, Lynn– Great question! Yes, you’re correct in understanding that the weighted shaker pair includes weights on both tin cups, while the weighted/unweighted pair only has a weight on the larger tin.
The double-weighted set does have a heavier feel to it, and it’s what a lot of professional bartenders use at work (so they’re just used to it and want to stick with it); the w/u set, in our opinion and research, seals and opens more easily. Personally, I recommend the w/uw option (I asked Chris, and he agrees for your needs). If you haven’t seen this article yet, I wrote up a post about how to open a Boston shaker: https://abarabove.com/how-to-open-a-stuck-cocktail-shaker/
Hope that’s helpful information for you, Lynn!