The 3 Types Of Cocktail Shakers Home Bartenders Need To Know

It is always impressive when you can mix custom cocktails for your guests. Having the right barware tools matters the most when one guest wants a martini ("shaken, not stirred" is a poor way to order a martini — and a rant for another day), and another wants an old fashioned. Choosing the right cocktail shaker for the kind of drinks you're slinging is key.


Several types of cocktail shakers are available, the most widely used of which are the Boston, Cobbler, and French shakers. Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages. Your skill and comfort level, the ingredients you are using, and the shaker's straining ability need to be considered when picking out the right one for you.

Shakers are typically made of stainless steel, glass, copper, or a combination of metal and glass. Stainless steel ones are durable, easy to clean, and offer good insulation for chilling drinks quickly. Glass shakers provide visibility but, of course, break more easily and tend to leak more than other types. Let's break down our three key cocktail shakers.

Boston, Cobbler, and French

The most seen tool at a busy bar is the Boston cocktail shaker. It consists of two parts — a metal tin and a mixing glass. The two components offer the best of both worlds: good chilling ability with the stainless steel, and a clear view of the ingredients in the clear glass. They create a good seal when used properly, and they are easy to clean. It does require skill to open after mixing the drink and does not come with a strainer — you'll need a separate Hawthorne strainer to get all the bits out of your cocktail.


The Cobbler, named after the Cobbler cocktail popular in the 1800s, is a three-piece shaker that has a built-in strainer and a cap. The cap protects the drink from spilling and can even be used to measure out alcohol. The Cobbler can be harder to clean because of the built-in strainer, and the cap can sometimes get stuck.

Lastly, the French, like the Cobbler, is a two-piece shaker. It has a metal tin and a tulip-shaped metal cap, but no strainer. It offers a good seal, is easy to clean, and is less prone to leakage than the Boston shaker.

Uses for each

The Boston shaker is a workhorse and is best used to make frothy shaken cocktails like margaritas and whiskey sours. Because the glass is transparent, you can visually tell when you've got enough froth in your drink. 


The Cobbler has a strainer, so is best suited to make cocktails with large herbs like muddled mint and citrus additions that require straining, and for cocktails that don't require heavy shaking. These cocktails often focus on preserving the freshness of ingredients and are typically served over ice. The mojito and the sherry cobbler (duh) are perfect examples.

The French shaker, also known as the Parisian shaker, is well-suited for chilled and delicate cocktails that need a stir more than a shake. A dirty martini and a French 75 will work well with this shaker.

Picking out the right shaker for you will need some testing. It depends on what you're comfortable holding and shaking. Go to a store and feel each of them out. And don't forget aesthetics and metal types. Copper, stainless steel, engraved shakers ... there are plenty of pretty ones to choose from. So, go on, get moving and shaking.