The Best Cocktail Shakers, According to Our (Shaken, Not Stirred) Tests

Two hands holding and shaking a cocktail shaker
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Part of the fun of going out for cocktails is the theater of watching skilled bartenders shake up a drink. The clanking of ice against metal and the flash of stainless steel being brandished all contribute to the ambiance of the bar. But shaking a cocktail isn’t just about showing off: it’s an absolutely crucial step for mixing up many beloved libations. 

Whether you’re hosting a party or just want to shake up a margarita once in a while, every home mixologist needs a cocktail shaker. Choosing the perfect shaker is a bit of a daunting task as there are (literally) hundreds of shakers on the market.

There are two primary styles of cocktail shaker: the Boston shaker and the cobbler shaker. To help you find the best cocktail shaker, we tested both styles separately. Below, we’ve rounded up our top picks from each of these reviews.

The Winners, at a Glance

Why Do I Need a Cocktail Shaker?

Shaking cocktails is a crucial step in making proper drinks. The rule of thumb used by most bartenders is that any drink that contains fruit juice, dairy, or egg white needs to be shaken. This means that in order to make good margaritas, daiquiris, or whiskey sours at home, a cocktail shaker is a necessary tool.

Shaking a cocktail is done for a few important reasons. First and foremost, it fully mixes all of the ingredients of a drink into a homogenous liquid. Many ingredients used in mixology like spirits, liqueurs, syrups, and fruit juice vary in density, which means they need more than a simple stir to become fully integrated. The ice used when shaking a drink chills and dilutes the cocktail, which increases the overall volume of the cocktail while also reducing its alcohol content. Shaking also aerates the cocktail, which mellows some of the harsher flavors and improves the drink’s texture by adding a bit more body. Basically, some cocktails just won’t look or taste right if they aren’t shaken.

What’s a Boston Shaker?

four boston shakers (made of different materials) on a grey countertop
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

The shaker most commonly used by professionals is the Boston shaker. These are comprised of two tins, one smaller than the other, that fit together to form an air-tight seal. Boston shakers are often preferred by professional bartenders due to their simplicity and size. The two tins are easy to clean and use, and they hold enough volume to make multiple servings of the same drink. It’s also easy to separate the tins once the cocktail is ready—just give them a solid whack. Boston shakers do require the use of a Hawthorne strainer in order to properly separate the ice and any other solids from the finished cocktail. There’s also a bit more of a learning curve with them; it can take some practice to figure out exactly how to get it to seal, and then unseal properly, but once mastered, this style of shaker is an invaluable tool behind the bar.

What Should You Look for in a Good Boston Shaker?

A video of a person shaking a cocktail shaker
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

After testing 12 Boston shakers, our top pick was the Modern Mixologist shaker set. When assessing a Boston shaker, the most important factors to consider are how well it seals and the build quality. The Modern Mixologist shaker excelled in both criteria. Across multiple cocktail tests, the shaker was able to maintain its seal without any leakage. It also boasted a sleek design without any welded seams, meaning the Modern Mixologist has little chance of breaking over time.

For a slightly more affordable option, we recommend the Piña Commercial Boston Tin Set. It’s about $5 to $10 cheaper than most of the other Boston shaker sets we tested but outperformed some of the higher-end shakers. Throughout our testing, the Piña shaker set maintained its seal just as well as our top pick from Modern Mixologist. Its only downside: the weights on each tin are welded on, which means there’s potential for them to fall off after prolonged, heavy use.

But What About Cobbler Shakers?

a cocktail being poured in a coupe glass from a cobbler shaker
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Cobbler shakers are the second most common style. They differ from Boston shakers in that they have a built-in strainer and consist of three parts: a shaker tin, a lid with a built-in strainer, and a cap that fits over the strainer to prevent any spills when shaking. The biggest upside with cobbler shakers is the built-in strainer. There’s no need for another bar tool, which makes this style attractive to home mixologists and beginners. However, the addition of a strainer does complicate the design. The cap is small enough to be easily lost, and cobbler shakers are notorious for getting stuck—sometimes permanently. The strainers in cobbler shakers also tend to have wider openings that sometimes allow for bits of muddled herbs, fruit, or shards of ice to pass through. 

Should you opt for a cobbler shaker, we recommend the Usagi cobbler shaker from Cocktail Kingdom. In our tests, we found it to be sleek, stylish, and easy to use. It had a fairly large capacity and made up to three cocktails at a time. Basically, the Usagi delivered on every major criterion that makes a good cobbler shaker. However, for a budget-friendly option, OXO’s our top choice.

Should You Buy a Boston or Cobbler Shaker? 

two cocktail shakers on a wooden surface
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The “best” cocktail shaker really depends on your needs. For novice home bartenders, the cobbler shaker is a great introductory tool. The built-in strainer definitely helps keep things simple and saves a little time and effort when shopping for bar tools. Those who are a bit more serious about mixology will probably find more utility in the Boston-style shakers. There’s a bit more of a learning curve when figuring out how to seal and unseal the tins, but it’s a tried and true tool. 

What we liked: The Modern Mixologist Boston Shaker was easy to use and formed a perfect seal throughout all of our testing. It had a nice heft and balanced to it and lacked any welded seams (unlike many of the shakers we tested), which means there’s less of a likelihood of any pieces falling off with time. We also thought it was easy to break the seal and affix a Hawthorne strainer to its opening.

What we didn’t like: It’s slightly shorter than other shakers and thus holds a few ounces less.

Price at time of publish: $33.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 26- and 18 3/4-ounce tins
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes
  • Good to know: A mixing glass can be purchased separately
The Modern Mixologist tins on a grey countertop
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

What we liked: For a more affordable option, we suggest the Piña Boston shaker. The build quality isn’t quite up to par with the Modern Mixologist, but it sealed up just as well in our tests. It also features a flared, stable base and we were able to unseal them easily. Plus, $25 for two tins makes this shaker an easy buy.

What we didn’t like: The welded base isn’t our favorite from a longevity perspective and some folks may find the flared base obtrusive during shaking.

Price at time of publish: $25.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 28- and 18-ounce tins
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes
  • Good to know: You can choose between a brushed or polished finish
The Pina Shakers on a grey countertop
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

What we liked: We chose the Usagi cobbler shaker as our top pick for its sleek, stainless steel construction. It also has a large capacity, which is helpful for making multiple drinks at once (the manufacturer says two, though we found it fit three fine). It was well-insulated, too, delivering a nicely chilled drink while keeping our hands from getting frosty.

What we didn’t like: Well, it’s expensive. It’s also heavier than other cobbler shakers.

Price at time of publish: $39.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 28 ounces
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes
  • Good to know: Stated two drink capacity, though we found three fit fine
a stainless steel cocktail shaker against a white background
Serious Eats / Kate Dingwall

What we liked: With a sleek design, jigger cap, and nice capacity (enough for about two drinks), we think the OXO is a great, moderately priced ($23) option. In fact, as we said in our cobbler shakers review, “It’s the best shaker we found for its price.”

What we didn’t like: While the built-in jigger is appealing (especially for those just starting their cocktail-making journey), its slanted sides made it very hard to pour from.

Price at time of publish: $23.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 24 ounces
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes
  • Good to know: Jigger cap, though we recommend buying a separate jigger
a stainless steel cobbler shaker with a silicone cap on a white surface and against a white background
Serious Eats / Kate Dingwall


How do you use a cocktail shaker?

To use a cocktail shaker, simply add all of the ingredients for a cocktail into one of the tins. Then add ice, seal the shaker, and shake vigorously. Once the cocktail is properly mixed and chilled, strain the liquid into a glass and serve. 

How long do you shake a cocktail? 

A typical drink should be shaken for about 10 to 15 seconds. Some cocktails that include egg white or dairy may require extra shaking time or a dry shake (shaking without ice) to fully mix and emulsify the ingredients.

What do you use if you don’t have a cocktail shaker?

If you don’t have access to a cocktail shaker but want to mix up a drink, a mason jar or a shaker bottle (like the kind used for protein drinks) should work in a pinch.

How do you open a stuck cocktail shaker?

Cocktail shakers seal when the internal temperature drops and creates a vacuum inside the shaker tins. With a Boston shaker, you can release the seal by smacking the side of the tins where the two meet. There should be one side where there’s a bit more space between the tins (that’s where you should smack). With a cobbler shaker, your best bet is to let the cocktail and tin come up to room temperature and try opening it again.