When you are shopping for a new cocktail shaker the choices can be overwhelming as there are many styles and designs available.
The first decision is to choose between a 3-piece cocktail shaker and a Boston shaker. The main difference between the two styles is that the cocktail shaker has a built in strainer and the Boston shaker requires a hawthorne strainer. Read more about bartending tools here...
There are also designer and novelty cocktail shakers with all of the function and extra style.
Quick Strain Tins were designed by a seasoned bartender for professionals. The Boston shaker-style mixing tins have straining holes around the rim and eliminate the need for an external strainer.
The tins are available with either a full circumference of stainer holes or sectioned strainers. They're very convenient, easy to use, and are inexpensive. These are one of my favorite sets and it is nice to have a few sets on hand for mixing multiple drinks quickly.
The Zack Contas Boston Shaker has one great feature that makes it stand out against other shakers, and that is the measuring scale on the glass. This isn't going to eliminate the need for a jigger for proper measurement. However, if you want to make three 4 ounce drinks at once you can use the scale, knowing that you should have approximately 12 ounces of liquid in the glass before you add ice. Of course, when you shake or stir, some of that ice will melt and add to the volume, but you will be assured that your final pour will not be short. This feature is especially handy when the recipe you are following gives measurements in parts.
The sleek design of the WMF Boston Shaker makes this a stylish addition to any bar. The company is known for displaying high-quality materials in nice, sleek designs, making this shaker one that will stand the test of time.
The stainless steel tin has a delicate, handsome curve that is a perfect fit for the thick mixing glass that also has a scale for measuring. The WMF Boston Shaker is perfect for both the professional and home bar.
This Boston shaker is good for the beginner who wants to try out this style of shaker. First of all, the glass has a few popular cocktail recipes printed on it, so if you need to know how to make a Martini or Daiquiri it's right there and there's no need to guess or pull out a recipe book. Second, this shaker has a rubber gasket on the glass. This creates a tight seal and eliminates (for the most part) the problem of the two pieces getting stuck together.
This 3-piece shaker from OXO is a very basic design that works just as it should. The tight seal and double-wall stainless steel makes it nice to use and avoid the surprise splash or cold hands.
The other highlight of this shaker is the soft lid, which is easier to secure into place and doubles as a jigger with built-in measurements.
Oggi makes a great line of 3-piece shakers that each have a different design element. Pictured is the Marilyn Tall & Slim design, but they also have shakers with faux diamonds, mosaics, beads, and painted glass. There is a style for everyone and they are all a good quality at a very reasonable price.
I like to finish off this list with at least one 2-piece shaker with a built-in strainer and for years I was recommending the Metrokane Flip-Top, which is a nice and convenient design. However, I think this OXO 360 shaker is just a little bit better.
With the OXO 360, you get the convenience of a strainer inside the lid and it is a just a matter of pushing a button to open the shaker to strain your drink. The operation of this shaker is very similar to a coffee thermos and it produces a clean, steady stream. As with any of these shakers, there is a tendency for ice to jam up inside the strainer, but that is nothing a little shake can't fix.