boston cobbler shaker

Boston Shaker vs Cobbler Shaker – What Bartenders Recommend!

Originally Posted On March 25, 2023 and Last Updated On

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Boston Shaker vs Cobbler Shaker – Which is better?

The battle between the Boston Shaker vs Cobbler Shaker has been going on as long as bartenders have been using them to serve drinks. They are both obviously shakers, but each one does have their own special purpose.

But after talking to a ton of bar keeps about what their preference is, what I’ve found is that it’s more a personal choice which one they use. Although I did notice, bartenders in more upscale setting tended to use a Cobbler, while more basic bars seemed to use the Boston. Just an observation! Personally, I like the Boston shaker when I’m mixing drinks and cocktails.

And just so there’s no confusion, I’ve written this in-depth article on the two most common shakers available – the Boston and the Cobbler three-piece shaker.

Both types were given a fair shake down through some hands-on research and expert advice from me and a few of my friends. And below are what I’ve learned when it comes to the battle of the Boston Shaker vs Cobbler Shaker.

The Boston Shaker

Boston Shaker Set
Boston Shaker Set

The straightforward, classic design and style of the Boston shaker makes it a favorite of all bar owners. This is what I personally like to use ninety percent of the time.

The one thing is, since this type of shaker doesn’t have a strainer, you’ll also need to have a hawthorn strainer or something similar for making shots and drinks like martinis where the liquids need to be strained from the ice and cocktail shaker ingredients.

For crystal clear drinks, you might want to utilize an extra fine strainer in addition to the hawthorn to filter out finer particles like pulp.

To Use:

  1. You can use this type of strainer a few ways. You can use either a shaker and glass, or two shakers together, one is bigger than the other so they make a seal.
  2. Fill either a pint glass (what I normally do out of habit) or the cocktail strainer with ice and your drink ingredients. Then place the tin on top of the cup or glass.
  3. With the heel of your palm, lightly wack the shaker in place to form a tight seal if you’re using the metal shakers together.
  4. With one hand on the tin and one on the glass, shake the cocktail for a good ten to twenty seconds, or until frost forms on the outside of the metal.
  5. When finished, place the shaker with the metal side down, and tap the ‘sweet spot’ to release the two pieces. Place the hawthorn strainer over top the metal shaker, and pour into the proper glassware.

Mastering the Tap

The “tap” is what every experienced bartender quickly learns is the way to get stuck cocktail shakers to separate. And yeah, it happens all the time.

The reason they often seal a little too tightly has to do with physics. Heat and cold playing with metal and/or glass objects. The sudden cold cause the metal to shrink, and making the shakers a pain to separate.

Haphazardly smacking your shaker won’t do much. The trick is to “tap” where the shaker meets the other shaker or glass. Either metal on metal or glass on metal, you need to place pressure there to release it.

More often than not, inexperienced users are tempted to bang the sealed shaker against a tabletop. Do NOT do this! All it will do is dent your shakers or break a lot og glasses.

Save your new shaker and look like a professional by firmly tapping the palm of your hand against the pivotal point. A strong squeeze will quickly and flawlessly release it as well.

Practice Makes Perfect

The tap takes practice, but barely. I managed to master it in only three tries! The squeezing technique was even easier, although I preferred the more theatrical technique of the tap.

The Three Piece or Cobbler Shaker

cobble shaker parts
cobbler shaker set

A cobbler shaker is a tool used to mix and shake cocktails. It is typically made of metal or glass and has a lid with a strainer. The strainer allows the user to pour the cocktail into a glass without ice or fruit. A cobbler shaker is also known as a three piece shaker.

To Use:

  1. Fill the shaker will necessary ingredients, including multiple ice cubes.
  2. Shake for ten to twenty seconds.
  3. Remove the cap, but leave the strainer in place, and pour into desired glass.

Now, although this shaker does have a strainer already built into it, I find this a serious disadvantage.

First, they are prone to leaking. And it can make a mess, not to mention someone watching the drink they’re paying for run out on the bar rather than their glass!

Second, since the strainer part of these usually have a much smaller surface area than a hawthorn strainer, they can get blocked by ice easily and the pour is normally a lot slower than using a Boston and hawthorn set up.

Third, There’s no way to “tap” these types of shakers apart. To do that you usually need to run it under warm water until the metal expands back to its original size and you can get the top off. Not fun at all if it’s a busy bar!

Materials Matter Too!

There are a lot of choices when it comes to shakers, but the most common is definitely stainless steel. It’s also what I HIGHLY suggest you get! The cheap plastic ones will eventually crack and make a mess.

Cobbler Three Piece Materials

The three piece shaker comes in either plastic or stainless steel, each having their own unique functions.

  • Plastic

The only thing a plastic shaker has over its metal counterparts is that it can be see through. This can be a good option for a party if you want your guests to be able to see the drink while you’re making it. Plastic is also effective if you are stocking an outdoor bar near a pool or where there are children running around.

  • Stainless Steel 

Stainless steel is the preferred choice when making a shaken drink because of its capacity to store cold better than other types of materials. In addition, stainless steel does not retain or transfer flavors, so the drink’s taste is consistent from drink to drink. And like plastic, it won’t break so it can be used at outdoor events or even by the pool.

Boston Shaker Materials

Since this shaker is two pieces, you have the choice of metal on metal or metal on glass.

  • Metal on Metal

Metal on metal will result in the coldest cocktail the quickest when compared to all other options. You tend to get a cocktail colder, faster because there is no thermal exchange between the glass and the metal. If you’re a little more experienced, a metal on metal option is the most balanced choice, resulting in a more stabilized shake.

  • Metal on Glass

Again, in terms of transparency, metal on glass is a great option. The glass will showcase your signature cocktail while the metal chills it.

A Few Awesome Shakers!

Here are a few of my top picks when it comes to shakers. These are the basics and every home bar needs at least one shaker or set. The ones I’ve listed below are affordable and all quality made. Just be sure to get a stainless steel set and not plastic unless you’re by a pool or something.

A Bar Above Boston Shaker

a bar above boston shaker
A Bar Above Boston Shaker

This is a nice shaker made from quality materials. You can see more information here. What I like the most about this shaker set is it is weighted, which means it doesn’t feel like an empty aluminum can in your hands. Rather there is some weight to it and feels like a proper bar tool. Kind of like the difference between a good watch and a plastic one.

Barfly Cocktail Shaker

Barfly Cocktail Shaker
Barfly Cocktail Shaker

This is another great shaker, but this one is a Cobbler. I comes in a under $20 for the 3 piece set. Again, this is a weighted set made of quality stainless steel, so the set should last you a lifetime. And it’ll look great in any home or professional bar. You can get it delivered overnight from Amazon.

Do Drinks Matter?

The cobbler shaker derived its name from the cocktail best suited for its usage. Cobblers should have that frothy, iced sorta feel to them. But with that rare order being the only one, I buy, in all intents and purposes, a metal on metal Boston shaker.

Cobbler Shaker vs Boston Shaker … And The Winner Is …

It really depends on how meticulous you are with mixing. I see the three piece for a casual home drinker. The Boston shaker with a hawthorn and a fine strainer? That’s for somebody who cares more about their bar who wants to go through all the steps. Think of it as someone using scissors to cut up vegetables in a kitchen versus someone skilled on a chef’s knife. It’s all the same it just depends on how you want to get there.

Still Have Questions?

You can find some shaker cups covered in vinyl. A great choice for the busy bartender that needs to mix a lot of cocktails in a row as it will keep your hands away from the freezing metal when shaking, which will be particularly convenient if you shake several drinks.

Another side note is that there is a third type of shaker, known as The Parisian or French style shaker. Fairly uncommon, the Parisian shaker has the bottle-like shape of a three piece, minus the strainer– making it a combination of the previously discussed two.

About the Author

  • Bill Allen

    I'm Bill Allen, the guy behind this site. I've been a bartender, bar owner and sitting on both sides of a bar for almost 35 years, so I have some experience in the whole mixology scene. And now I'm just building out my site with as much helpful content as I can share with you. Allen Bill

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