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Can't get the top off my new cocktail shaker!

I'm not sure if this is the right board, but I need a little help. Just bought a new Caphalon martini shaker in a stainless metal. It was pricier that most but I liked the way it looked and I like their other stuff. Well after one martini or other drink, you can't get the bloody top off. I took one back and got another that had a slightly looser top, but still can't take it off until it warms up--which takes quite a long time since there is ice inside.

Previously we had the kind that uses a strainer. Are the ones with metal tops impossible? Any other ideas or brands?

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  1. I wouldn't waste my time with the 3 pc. shaker sets. I have never had luck with them either, nor have I ever seen any serious bartenders using. Try a 28 oz. stainless steel shaker tin, or two (they're cheap online). The metal shaker tins fit standard bar mixing glasses (pint type beer glass). Good luck!

    1. Bang it on the counter a couple of times it should come right off.
      Just a question are you talking about the small top (at the very top) or the larger one that fits onto the bottom piece?
      When I get a 3 piece I always make sure the top piece is the male end and the bottom shaker is female I find these easier.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sweetnspicy

        Yeah it is the larger one that fits over the bottom piece. Interesting that my bottom piece is a male connector so it must be doomed from the start.

        1. re: Cheesy Oysters

          Hi Cheezy Oysters. I do have an easy-open-non-stick shaker from Target. It has a gasket or rubber ring around the top which never fails to open. Problem is, it is PINK , (Oh, the horror), . small, and double-sided with not enough capacity. I feel silly using it. Martinis are serious business!

      2. A gentle tap on the side of the bar or counter top should loosen the cap.

        When I worked in a bar we used the cheap stainless steal cocktail shakers and only the bottom halves. We would take a pint glass, measure the drink into it, drop the cocktail shaker over the top and shake vigarously. Then, tap the pint glass gently on the bar to loosen the seal and strain the drink.

        I found I got less mess using that method than the standard three piece cocktail shaker.

        3 Replies
        1. re: adventuresinbaking

          "A gentle tap on the side of the bar or counter top should loosen the cap."

          Not necessarily. In my years of bartending, I've seen those stupid things get stuck seemingly for days. Nothing short of hitting the cup hard enough to dent it would loosen it.

          I would recommend a Boston shaker and strainer. The only issue would be learning how to seal and and break the seal of the cup and glass when shaking a drink. But that's all part of the fun.

          1. re: adventuresinbaking

            Um, the pint glass *is* the top half of the cheap stainless steel shaker. It's called a Boston shaker, and is what pretty much any bartender who shakes drinks will use.

            Seriously, go to a restaurant supply store and pick yourself up a set of the metal shaker part, the glass, and a Hawthorne strainer (the kind with the springy loop around the edge of it). It will set you back ten bucks or less, and you'll look like a real bartender when you shake. Like ultramagnetic says above, it does take a little practice to get it to seal right and to pop it back open, but it's very easy to learn. BIG HINT: When breaking the seal, put the whole thing on the counter glass side up. Have the glass pointing either directly toward you or directly away from you. Gently hold the glass with one hand, and then bang the *side* of the top of the metal part with your other hand. It should pop right open. When I first started making drinks, I would have the glass point in the opposite direction from where I'd bang it; it's much harder to open it that way.

            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

              i know the op isn't trying to be a killer speed demon bartender, only look competent, but there is no real reason the shakers should leave your hands at any point while mixing. you put them down for the first time after the drink is poured and strained, when you dump the ice and leave in the barback's area, & switch to a clean setup for the next drink. going through the process of putting the glass down on a counter, changing hand positions, etc. just slows you down, which doesn't sound like a big deal, but remember the ice is rapidly melting into someone's drink this whole time. prepare the glass(es), ice the shaker, pour quickly, shake quickly, bang the shaker gently on your side of the bar and strain quickly into the prepared glass. all this and a monetary transaction can be completed in less than a minute by a skilled bartender. the tricks and flourishes are great and all, but better drinks are seldom built that way.

          2. Here`s what worked for me when my cocktail shaker stubbornly decided to deny me my cocktail. I cussed like a sailor at it, banged the crap out of it then threatened to replace it with a more cooperative shaker. Somehow it worked!

            Seriously the hot soak followed by a sideways whack did the magic.

            1. All together, total brains, we cannot solve this problem PLEASE: someone figure out how to PREVENT the sticking in the first place. I have four individual shakers, which my guests love, until they cannot open the tops to pour their second 'tini. STUMPED.

              1 Reply
              1. re: zimexlady

                We sit there shaking, twisting with cold hands, etc. I have made certain that I have washed the sticky vodka/olive juice off each rim before using. That helps a bit. As for the large shaker lid sticking, I have purchased art deco shakers problem solved, and drama of the pour increased, by simply unscrewing the spout. A more thorough sake can be achieved by th handle giving a sturdy grip.....no cold hands, just shake away for thirty shakes.

              2. When I was learning to fly fish, I would sometimes have trouble getting the two piece pole apart. I learned a technique of rolling the male part on the side of my nose. That supplied just enough lubricant to make taking the pole apart a breeze.
                Maybe a tiny amount of vegetable oil would help?

                2 Replies
                1. re: justicenow

                  Thanks justicenow. I tried WD 40, mineral oil, soapy hot water, banging it on the counter, etc. all of the methods suggested on this site. Finally, placing it in a metal bowl filled with boiling water caused the large lid to explode off. Then, I placed the strainer (cap stuck) into a small tea cup, upside down so that there was an inch clearance from the bottom of the cup. I poked an ice pick through the center hole of the strainer and gave a hard whack on the ice pick. The lid popped off.

                  Top prevent sticking, a suggestion on this site said to rub table salt around the rims of the shaker oieces and rinse thoroughly. I did this and will see what happens. I think I am being punked! What say you? I know salt corrodes stainless steel but I think a simple rub and rinse would be ineffective.

                  1. re: justicenow

                    PS TO: justicenow.......tonight I might be trying the nose rub in front of my guests if the tops stick again!

                  2. Those cheap rubber-sheeting jar openers work like a charm for this.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cayjohan

                      I will try that next time. I do have one of those jar openers but it did not enter my mind to try it.
                      Thanks, cayjohan.

                      1. re: zimexlady

                        My pleasure. It took me years of cussing at my husband's Never-to-Be-Thrown-Out, impossible-to-open college-era shaker before it finally occurred to me. Much more copacetic now.

                    2. My suggestion is to deny the problem: don't use 3-piece cocktail shakers. I have found that they either stick or leak, depending upon how tightly the cap fits. Or buy a hideously ugly one with a plastic top with a rubber gasket. The metal-on-metal ones seem to be a defuctive design.

                      Instead buy a Boston shaker. It comprises a large metal shaker (the "tin") and a pint mixing glass. The glass is inserted into the tin such that one of its sides is parallel to the one of the sides of the tin, forming a banana shape. To release, whack the joint with the heel of your hand on the "flat side" of the banana (not the convex side, not the concave side, but one of the two flat sides).

                      You can buy smaller tins to use in lieu of the mixing glass. The downside is that you can't see into the shaker, but the plus is that because both tins are flexible, it comes apart very easily.

                      If you want a small shaker for Martini service, instead pour the surplus into a small frozen glass pitcher and place in a bowl of ice for the guest to use to top off their cocktail glass.

                      I got my shakers at http://thebostonshaker.com.

                      www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                      22 Replies
                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                        Many thanks to every one.....there are lots of martini drinkers out there! We are a generous bunch with sharing all ideas.
                        I ended up buying an art deco shaker with a screw spout for pouring and it has a large handle to hang onto while shaking (no more frozen fingers).......problem solved and it is quite a conversation piece. I lOVE IT. And, I never knew there were so many kinds of shakers priced from $8 to $8,000.
                        Our previous generation knew the best way to shake a martini. GO GRANDMA, you go girl!

                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                          +1 on this rec. After breaking a boston shaker glasses because I could not get them unstuck I got a few of the smaller metal tins and have never had a problem since.

                          I don't even have to whack them. Just squeeze the smaller tin with you hand it it pops out.

                          1. re: quazi

                            Having had a Boston Shaker that would not come apart, I was able to narrow it down to the glass itself being too large and not the tin (via swapping parts out with my other 4 or 5 Boston Shakers). So breaking the glass was probably a good thing (save for the shards, but just the act of doing away with it is what I meant); our oversized glass has a ring of tape around it and I'll occasionally use it for stirring drinks but it will never go near another shaker tin again.


                            1. re: yarm

                              A bit OT, but has anyone else found that a Boston shaker with a mixing glass often leads when shaking (particularly dry shaking) egg cocktails? I now yarm is very fond of egg cocktails. There must be something about the viscosity or lubricity that makes the mixture creep out the though a tiny gap.

                              I'm thinking that a tin-on-tin might solve this. I'm tired of egg white on my shirt.

                              www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                If you mean the dry shake, there is no chilling to form a vacuum to seal the shaker. It is passable in a Boston and horrible in a Parisian.

                                When you have ice in the shaker, it chills the air inside the shaker which causes a negative pressure which seals things up -- regardless of tin on tin or tin on glass.

                                1. re: yarm

                                  Interesting. I would not have thought that the density change of the gas inside wouldn't make enough much pressure difference. The stainless steel probably has a much higher coefficient of thermal expansion. This would helping tighten up the seal, too.

                                  I guess I'm out of luck for a solution, though. Time to try a tin-on-tin.

                                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                                    In tin on tin, the metals would change at the same rate. At least with metal and glass, there is a difference especially with glass' rigidity.

                                    The biggest evidence is with the Parisian shaker. Unlike the Boston or the double tin where you bang them together to get them to set, the Parisian shaker top stays lightly attached until you start shaking with ice. And then it takes some force to break the vacuum.

                                    If you use those old gas laws and convert all your temperatures to Celsius then Kelvin, you can figure out the change in the air volume. I guess a good way of figuring it all out would be to submerge the shaker in a tub of ice water, fill it with ice and water and remove all the air, and see if it seals the same.

                                    1. re: yarm

                                      OK, I'm in total agreement with you now. Yesterday I had a tiny air leak and could clearly hear air leaking into the shaker after a nice cold shake. I think I'll try the 1 cube trick from now on to keep the egg off my face ;)

                                2. re: EvergreenDan

                                  Put one or two ice cubes in there for the dry shake. You'll get enough contraction to keep it from splattering.

                                  Alternately, whiz it in the blender for a second or two before you give it a shake. If you have a milkshake machine, so much the better.

                                    1. re: zimexlady

                                      In an egg drink, many bartenders do two rounds of shaking. The first one or "dry shake" is without ice and is meant to mix the egg into the ingredients; it is usually only 10 seconds or so. The second round or "wet shake" is with ice and is 20-30 seconds long just like any other shaken drink (sometimes longer).

                                      Sometimes only some of the ingredients are added to the dry shake, such as the citrus besides the egg yolk +/- egg white; acids like citrus juice help the unfolding of egg proteins to make a better foam and full mouth feel. For the wet shake, the sugar ingredients are often added (like liqueurs and syrups); sugar inhibits or slows the initial unfolding of the egg proteins to form the foam, but once that foam is formed, the sugar stabilizes it.


                                      1. re: yarm

                                        Ah! I remembered having read this tidbit a while ago but forgot the specifics of your advice and couldn't remember where I had seen it. I appreciate the science, yarm. Egg drinks are so alluring but the daunting task of creating an airy foam generally disheartens me. Not to mention, I only just upgraded from my leaky 3 piece to a solid pair of tins from Cocktail Kingdom.

                                        Can you offer any other insights? I recently made a Clover Club (dry with all but sugars for approx. 15 seconds, wet for 20) that easily surpassed my prior eggy ventures but still fell a tad short on volume.

                                        1. re: alphanumeric

                                          Throw the spring from a Hawthorne strainer into the shaker. You'll get some extra mixing action.

                                          What I do at work when I make an egg white drink:
                                          Put all of the ingredients in the shaker. Add a couple of ice cubes (it creates a bit of a vacuum to prevent splattering). Shake like hell while humming the think music from Jeopardy for the full 30 seconds. Crack open the shaker, add ice, and shake to chill. Strain into the waiting glass.

                                          You can also cheat with a brief whiz in a milkshake machine or blender. I won't tell anyone.

                                          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                            The Hawthorne strainer spring during a dry shake is the best idea to come along in awhile. I remember seeing that done back around 6-7 years ago for the first time and immediately added it to my repertoire of tricks and techniques.

                                            A cold shaker to start during the dry shake also boosts foam creation and retention.

                                            Even though I am sometimes a traditionalist, I have used a blender to make batches of Ramos Gin Fizz's. Shaking up a few by hand is ok, after 3-4 the several minutes of shaking for each gets old.

                                            1. re: JMF

                                              So, to use a blender, do you first shake with ice, strain and then blend (w/o ice)?

                                              1. re: emily

                                                No, put all the ingredients without ice in the blender. Blend well. Then put in the shaker with ice and shake well to chill. Strain into glass and top with cold seltzer. You still have to shake a bit with ice, but the "dry" blending emulsifies the ingredients.

                                              2. re: JMF

                                                I wonder if one of those wire balls that come with protein drink shakers would do the trick? So as to not have to keep taking the strainer apart and putting it back together.

                                                The other day I saw the idea of using a whipped cream dispenser as a shortcut.

                                                1. re: ncyankee101

                                                  I don't know anything about the wire ball you mention. But once you get it down it only takes a few seconds to strip out or rethread the spring on a hawthorne.

                              2. re: EvergreenDan

                                I guess I got lucky, I have a 3 piece stainless shaker I got for $10 from Walmart and it is just tight enough not to leak but the top comes right off, and top is the female part. Brand is Chefmate.

                                The only downside is with the top being female there is a small amount of dripping down the side after I open it.

                                1. re: ncyankee101

                                  It is definitely luck although that luck can shift over time and use -- either where they begin to leak or they begin to have difficulty coming apart. Often it's the strainer part that gets loose and the cap that gets tight for some reason.

                                  The best shakers I've have gotten were in buy a bottle-get a shaker promotional packages in liquor stores. I have one that has a decade of life on it and still going strong.

                                  The worst ones are often from Bed, Bath, and Beyond or similar from what I have observed (never bought one there).

                                  1. re: yarm

                                    The only shaker I have ever gotten in a package like that was a small orange tinted clear plastic shaker that came with a bottle of Cointreau, i assume that is not what you were referring to. It's cute and clever but very flimsy, has a few recipes with markings for individual ingredients right on the side.

                                    1. re: ncyankee101

                                      No, I meant metal Cobbler shakers. Also, all of my branded Boston shakers work well (the one that sealed too tightly was from Kegworks).

                              3. I know this isn't swanky or proper, but I recently had success with an improvised shaker. I've been having a series of cocktail parties and a lot of mixing goes on. Since my husband was washing the available shakers but a guest wanted a drink, I mixed one up in a medium ball jar with the screw top. The Hawthorne strainer fit nicely in the top.

                                I'm not suggesting it as your go-to, but if your shaker gets stuck or broken keep it in mind - it was surprisingly useful in a pinch. I imagine it might work well for the first dry shake for egg drinks as discussed above since you'd not have to worry about the seal with the screw top.

                                19 Replies
                                1. re: tokyopix

                                  Someone already ran with the Ball Jar cocktail shaker. His kickstarter got well funded:


                                  1. re: yarm

                                    A bit off-off-topic, but what do you suggest for making 4 cocktails at once. It seems like I can make a double in a standard Boston Shaker, but I very often need to make four identical drinks, so I'm making two parallel batches of 2 (with 2 mixing glasses). I'm not coordinated enough to shake two at once though.

                                    Is there a "standard" extra-big shaker? Or maybe just a huge mason jar? I'm not sure what size because a quart would be too small.

                                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                                      I solved my problems by buying an art deco shaker from eBay. The size is great, the handle makes an easy, long shake and the spout makes for a no= spill pour. Best of luck, EvergreenDan.

                                      1. re: zimexlady

                                        Yes, I have a large collection of old school tea pot looking shakers that are easily had on eBay or antique stores (often cheapest on eBay for some reason, which is the opposite with glassware). Everything from chrome to silver plate.

                                        I can make 2 drinks per Boston, although egg drinks seem to do better when it's one per shaker. I have done dual shakers but I prefer not to; especially in my kitchen opposed to when the pros do it at a place of work with good barbacks to clean up a mess (I have seen single shaker accidents -- there's a great Youtube video of Sam Treadway at Drink with a Ramos incident).

                                        Shaking for 10 seconds and then switching to the other shaker for 10, and repeating until everything is chilled should only set you back 20-30 seconds as compared to shaking both at the same time.

                                        I do have a great shot of Scott Marshall at Drink shaking 3 Boston shakers at once (it's on Facebook somewhere), so doing two doesn't seem as bad. Unfortunately, my fingers aren't long enough to hold onto 3 shakers.

                                        1. re: yarm

                                          Thanks for sharing the "shaking" stories.

                                          1. re: yarm

                                            Does anyone make an oversize tin -- maybe around 40oz? I'm thinking that a nice set of 3 nesting tins would be perfect: the smaller two for 1-2 drinks and normal use and the larger two for 3-4 drinks. I didn't see anything at The Boston Shaker or Cocktail Kingdom.

                                            Part of the hassle of making two sets of 2 drinks is the double measuring and pouring.

                                            1. re: EvergreenDan

                                              Buy vintage glassware (2-3 oz size) and pour 2 drinks for 4 people? That way you can try more drinks through the night and take your guests on an liquid adventure without getting them overly pickled. Otherwise, use eBay for "vintage cocktail shaker" and you'll see some big ones. Often they don't give the volume, just the height or a picture of its size in relation to a Coke can. I've seen these being used at events where they were making drinks in batches.

                                              1. re: yarm

                                                This is a great tip. You don't even need vintage. For our engagement a friend sent us a case of 36 small cocktail glasses. I don't generally like straight sided glasses, but these little guys are the perfect size and b/c they aren't vintage and not even super fancy, they go right in the dishwasher. I never worry about them. I think they are a Libby product. I just today found a little coupe at the 100 yen shop that I'm hoping to add to the bar. I'll test drive it tonight.

                                                Anyway, a standard cocktail recipe carefully measured and shaken or stirred 30-40 seconds fills two of them nicely. On a weeknight I make one cocktail and my husband and I each have half but in the glass it feels like a whole cocktail. Or we can try 2 cocktails and not have it be an issue of having too much to drink for a "school night". At our parties it means guests can try several cocktails and easily do side by side tasting using different liquors in the same cocktail to see what they like (different gins, bourbons, Cocchi Americano v. Lillet, that type of thing) without becoming too tipsy to enjoy what they are tasting.

                                                1. re: tokyopix

                                                  UPDATE: in case anyone cares, here is what we have (and sorry, Libbey has an "e" in it)


                                                  They are 4.5 ounce but that is to the very rim (i.e. you couldn't carry it). 3 is as high as I comfortably go and 2.5 doesn't look stingy in these. I'm not usually a fan of the straight sides, and these don't have any swank factor like vintage or higher end glasses, but they are really great, utilitarian glasses and perfect for tasting and comparing and having several cocktails in one evening and for a crowd.

                                                  1. re: tokyopix

                                                    I know that Libbey makes them, but vintage glasses come in more styles and are often cheaper since no one seems to want small glasses so vendors drop the prices. We've scored glasses as cheap as 50 cents a stem. Then again, I have a vintage glassware addiction/problem -- well the only problem is storage.

                                                    1. re: yarm

                                                      You have my complete sympathy. So do I. But then I'm so afraid to break them and ruin a set I tend not to use them for larger gatherings. They end up sitting in their case awaiting a small party or quiet evening at home. For large parties - that's where the indestructible ones come in! Since we have one monthly now I'm sure I'd end up decimating my collection of vintage glassware.

                                                      Incidentally, it turns out Tokyo is fertile vintage glassware hunting grounds. We moved from NYC where everyone was on the trail. Here I've found no less than 3 shops w/i walking distance that are never picked over. A very fun hobby, except for the storage issues you mention. Not quite as low as 50 cents, but very lovely!

                                                2. re: EvergreenDan

                                                  Yes, I have seen a 60oz for large parties where you make ten martinis....all alike....at once.

                                            2. re: EvergreenDan

                                              After I wrote this I realized that I long ago bought an oversized shaker to use as a vessel for my Robot Coupe immersion blender (which won't fit in a regular 28oz shaker). I just tried 3 drinks tonight using it and my new Espolón 28 oz shaker. Three 3oz-into-the-tin drinks worked great. I need to pour the shaken result into the 28oz shaker for the hawthorn strainer to really work, so I'm not sure if 4 will work or not. I might need a bigger strainer of some sort.

                                              Opening the tin-on-tin Boston Shaker was a definite step forward. Slight bump and it popped apart.

                                            3. re: yarm

                                              I think it's a great idea!! I really liked the ball/mason jar one I used. Though having done that I now admit I wouldn't likely buy their product b/c I now I have a ball jar and a Hawthorne strainer and that's all I need.

                                              I usually don't answer these shaker threads b/c everyone says don't use a 3-piece, use a Boston. I have a three piece made of really heavy pewter that I got years ago. It's like a tank. Both lids are threaded so they never stick. I really love it and honestly I like it more than a Boston shaker. One issue for me is, as the cocktail party progresses I get a little more clumsy with each drink. The screw top just makes it easier for me mix confidently even when a little tipsy. Sadly it's not made anymore.

                                              1. re: tokyopix

                                                Question for Fred and other scientists: Should one be concerned about the lead in a (real) pewter shaker, particularly with an acidic cocktail? The exposure time is low, but then so is the pH.

                                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                  I don't use my vintage pewter shakers for that reason -- I just keep it for show. Probably low risk, but I have plenty of other shakers. No one probably died or got sick from that part of making cocktails back then, but then again heavy metal toxicity is not fun and is cumulative.

                                                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                    I should say, I don't know if mine is real pewter. It is a Restoration Hardware product from the early 2000s. I assumed food safety...perhaps I shouldn't have?

                                                    1. re: tokyopix

                                                      Restoration will be safe -- it's probably foodsafe chrome.

                                                      The ones from decades ago that are neither chrome nor silver are the ones you should wonder about.

                                                      1. re: yarm

                                                        Good to know - thank you! I haven't gone in for vintage shakers so far but I wouldn't have thought about it so many thanks for the heads up.