How to Shake a Cocktail like a Pro

Ever wonder how to shake a cocktail? You might be thinking, “isn’t shaking a drink the same as stirring?” but there is actually a real difference in how that affects the finished product. With so many different types of cocktail shakers on the market, it can get confusing what’s best for you. It’s not always as easy as pouring into a glass and adding ice but there are some basic rules you need to know before shaking up your next drink.

A History of the Cocktail Shaker: From Ancient South America to Modern Day

The ancient people of South America were the first to use a jar gourd as an enclosed container for mixing drinks. The earliest examples can be found around 7000 BCE, where early peoples would mix together cocoa beans with water or milk from animals that inhabited their region. 

In 1848 the New York Times credits George Foster with the first description of the modern cocktail shaking style: “With his shirt sleeves rolled up and in a fiery glow he seems to be pulling long ribbons out of tin cups.” However, it is likely that the metal-on-metal style that came to be known as the Boston shaker was around before then.

The way a person shakes their drink has come to symbolize an entire culture. By the dawn of the 20th century, cocktail shakers had solidified their position as bar necessity while evolving to 3 different types: one which dominated the American market known as Boston Shaker; then a Parisian version emerged in London; while a third type, cobblers, came last with the inclusion of a tiny metal perforated screen on top.

The Debate Over Which is the Best Cocktail Shaker


Boston Shaker

The Boston Shaker is the most widely used style of cocktail shaker in America. It consists of 2 metal cups with a larger and smaller tin, typically made from stainless steel that are fitted together. The metal tins are not connected and must be clinked together by hand when shaken for the seal to form between them while creating a more secure surface on which to shake things up inside.

Parisian Shaker

The French, or Parisian Shaker, developed in London,  England in the 1960s, is a two-piece metal item that fits snugly and tightly over one another to form a nearly air-tight seal when clinked. In general, this style of shaker has become more popular around the world than any other due largely to its versatility; it can be used with both wet or dry ingredients.

Cobbler Shaker

The Cobbler Shaker is a 3 piece shaker tin typically made from stainless steel that has a metal Hawthorne strainer built into the opening at its top to filter out any ice or other particles. The size, shape, and interior polish are what make it so appealing for bartenders to use in their craft as they can have more control over cocktails with this tool than without one.

Shake It Up: The Right Way to Shake a Cocktail

A lot of people might think the process is just as simple as dumping everything in a glass and adding fresh ice cubes but that’s not exactly how it works. The key to the perfect shaken cocktail is ensuring you shake long enough for your drink to get really cold before pouring into your pint glass – this will ensure a smoother texture overall. 

Shaking a cocktail for the perfect amount of time is key to ensuring that it tastes good. For most drinks, like Mojitos, 10 seconds in the shaker should be enough and produce an excellent drink. However, there are some recipes that either have loads of ingredients or that don’t usually mix well (like egg whites) where shaking longer, up to 30 seconds, will give you a better result.

Your shaking technique is also very important. Make sure to hold the shaker using your dominant hand with the palm facing the bottom of the shaker. If you are shaking drinks like martinis or iced tea then use an “up-and-down” shaking technique, but if you’re making something frothy such as a milkshake make sure to shake from side-to-side so that there are bubbles created inside. 

One thing no matter what drink recipe you’re using: be careful not to over mix when adding ingredients! This will cause too many fizzy bubbles which can ruin the final product.