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Selecting the best cocktail shaker

t
thenamesdiana Dec 15, 2009 06:18 AM

I have decided to purchase a boston shaker for my boyfriend and am having a difficult time. I bought this one:
http://www.amazon.com/Alessi-5050-Boston-Cocktail-Shaker/dp/B000XD5UVS/ref=sr_1_23?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1260890052&sr=8-23

But I feel like I overpaid since coming across this one:
http://thebostonshaker.com/_product_8...

I was wondering if there were any major difference between a $117 dollar shaker and a $14.40 dollar one.?

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  1. davis_sq_pro Dec 15, 2009 06:47 AM

    $117 certainly seems like a lot of money to spend on a shaker. What made you pick that one?

    To answer your question on whether there is a difference, yes, there certainly can be. I own a few shakers, my favorite of which is the Rosle Boston Shaker--discontinued by the company, for some reason, but a few are still available on various sites such as this one that I just found via Google:

    http://www.theartofbeverage.com/cshak...

    The Rosle costs about $50, and compared to cheaper shakers you can definitely feel the difference. The tin is made of thick, strong metal, and when you shake it it doesn't ice up right away like cheaper shakers do. The glass is thick and robust and actually bounced the first time I dropped it on my tile floor (alas, it bounced, then shattered, the second time--but I liked it so much that I bought a replacement from Rosle, which I'm now being more careful with). And when you place the glass into the tin, it immediately and effortlessly makes a seal; there is no need to play around, and no fear of getting splashed as you shake your drink.

    I don't know if the Alessi shares these qualities with the Rosle, since there are no reviews. Personally, I place a lot of trust in Amazon reviews (maybe too much) and generally go for products that have several 5-star ratings. This one has no reviews so I'm not sure if it's good, bad, or otherwise...

    2 Replies
    1. re: davis_sq_pro
      skokefoe Dec 15, 2009 08:05 AM

      I also have a Rosle and have been very happy with it. The measurement lines and markings wore off the glass, but those don't matter to me and everything else is as good as brand new after daily use for the past year.

      1. re: davis_sq_pro
        t
        thenamesdiana Dec 15, 2009 12:01 PM

        I cant find the Rosle Boston shaker for sale anywhere online. Any other suggestions?

      2. w
        will47 Dec 15, 2009 12:05 PM

        Buy a cheap ($10) mixing tin (the metal side of the shaker) and buy a heat-tempered glass mixing glass separately.

        If you want to get something a little nicer, check out
        http://cocktailkingdom.com/
        The quality of their stuff, especially the Japanese barware is amazing. One of their Japanese barspoons is the perfect one (to me) - and I've tried quite a few trying to find the perfect one.

        They have a Japanese mixing tin for $10 that would work for the shaker side (I think
        )http://www.cocktailkingdom.com/content/weighted-mixing-tin

        ps - for cheaper stuff, I recommend:
        http://www.barproducts.com
        comes recommended by a well known bar; the stuff isn't the same quality as Cocktail Kingdom, but a lot of places that sell this stuff for more are basically selling the same thing as that site, only marked up a lot.
        They also have a fancier shaker set that I bet will beat the pants off that Alessi for a little less money:
        http://www.cocktailkingdom.com/conten...

        4 Replies
        1. re: will47
          e
          EraserGirl Dec 16, 2009 04:36 AM

          He's right..there is no best, the cost of the cans don't make the drinks taste any better. I bought my cans and mixing glass at the local restaurant supply house for about $10 total. avoid the shaker tops and use a strainer.

          1. re: EraserGirl
            davis_sq_pro Dec 16, 2009 07:19 AM

            They may not make the drink taste any better, but they may make the experience of making the drink nicer. Two factors come into play here:

            A) More expensive tins tend to be made of thicker metal that won't freeze your hand as quickly if you're bothering to properly shake your drinks (that means 20+ seconds of hard shaking, which will cause the tin to eventually ice up).

            B) More expensive tins tend to be better designed and will seal better, which means that you won't be wearing bits of the drink when you're done shaking it. And if you like to do a one-handed shake, the chance of the two pieces separating and your getting absolutely soaked will be greatly reduced (unfortunately, I learned this one the hard way, and do two-handed shakes when I'm not using a high-quality tin).

            As always, YMMV, but (at least up to a point) you generally do get what you pay for and there are good reasons--beyond marketing and branding--that some shaker sets cost 5x more than some others.

            1. re: davis_sq_pro
              w
              will47 Dec 16, 2009 11:13 AM

              Yeah - I absolutely agree that some are better quality than others... just not sure the Alessi is likely worth the money being asked - I'd buy one of the Japanese or German ones from Cocktail Kingdom over that one.

              One thing I *have* noticed is that (especially with citrus), certain shakers get a kind of funky metallic smell, and I've often wondered if there are mixing tins made of less reactive metals.

              For stirred drinks, I usually just use a glass mixing glass only. And if he makes stirred drinks, one of the fancypants Japanese mixing glasses from the site above would be an interesting and unique gift... that's what I'm asking for for Christmas!

              1. re: will47
                davis_sq_pro Dec 16, 2009 12:48 PM

                I want the one DrinkBoy uses in his videos (glass pitcher, with a pour spout on top with a built-in strainer--all made out of a single piece of glass)... Not sure what it is or if it's some vintage piece but it's really cool...

        2. t
          The Loaf Dec 15, 2009 11:53 PM

          For all practical purposes, I don't think there's much difference. They work exactly the same. If he fetishizes designer names, or is more into making a statement, maybe it's worth it. But if I was going to spend the cash, I would get the cheaper set (you can even find cheaper by buying a pint glass for, like $2.00, and the metal tin at most any restaurant supply store. Don't forget the Hawthorne strainer. Those are the tools of bartenders from Seattle to Savannah. They certainly won't diminish the caliber of the drink.

          Then, I would spend the other $110 on cool glassware--or even glassware and a bottle or 2 of high fallutin' liquor. A beautiful, weighty rocks glass really changed my cocktail enjoyment. After all, it's the thing you have in your hand most, while drinking. Just my opinion, though others may have different advice.

          1. JMF Dec 16, 2009 12:51 PM

            I'd return that Alessi shaker right away.

            For shaken drinks I like a double tin. A short weighted tin like this one from Cocktail Kingdom
            http://www.cocktailkingdom.com/content/short-weighted-tin
            And a larger weighted tin like this one
            http://www.cocktailkingdom.com/content/weighted-mixing-tin
            Two tins seal better than a Boston shaker, and are easier to get apart once you get the hang of slightly squeezing the mouth of the tin to break the seal. These ones from Japan cost a little more than real basic ones, but are so solid they will last a lifetime. The weighted bottom makes them balance really well in your hands when shaking.

            For stirred drinks I have several antique mixing glasses that look like variations of the weighted mixing glass and the Yarai mixing glass on this page.
            http://www.cocktailkingdom.com/catalo...

            Also get a barspoon, hawthorne strainer for shaken drinks, julep strainer for stirred drinks, and muddler. For around the same amount you can put together a full bar set of high quality Japanese barware.

            By the way, all the best, high end cocktail bars around the country are getting their barware from the Cocktail Kingdom. In NYC if you look on the bar at PDT (voted best cocktail bar in the world 2009), Death & Co, etc. you will see the same tins and mixing glasses.

            1. BarmyFotheringayPhipps Dec 16, 2009 02:14 PM

              My own current shaker is exactly the one on the Boston Shaker website (I bought it at the BS store in Somerville, which is in the process of moving from Union Square to Davis Square), and I have no complaints about it whatsoever. I'm afraid you overpaid hugely for the Alessi: probably the most expensive Boston Shaker I've ever seen cost all of $75.

              I didn't even pay as much for this one as the price on the website, because I didn't buy a glass. A basic pint bar glass does the same job.

              3 Replies
              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                JMF Dec 17, 2009 07:38 AM

                Pint bar glasses are much weaker than glass shakers and can break during use. Although I know of bars that use glass shakers as pint glasses because they are so much stronger and can take some abuse.

                1. re: JMF
                  w
                  will47 Dec 17, 2009 09:13 AM

                  My understanding is that heat tempered pint glasses are fine for cocktail shaking use.

                  1. re: will47
                    JMF Dec 17, 2009 10:01 AM

                    true, tempered glass is ok. Over time minute scratches can lead to weakening of the glass, and the thinner glass, the greater the chance of breaking. A few months ago at a local bar I saw a glass break, it was probably a few years old, but shards went everywhere and the bartender cut his hand. Since then I switched to the two tins, and like them so much better. Especially how well they seal, and also how they come apart easily. Really great when working an event and you have to make so many cocktails that you are double shaking.

              2. b
                big o Dec 17, 2009 09:43 AM

                At this point, I'll just be parroting opinions that have already been stated, but what the hell...

                That Alessi shaker is overkill, even just as a "Hey, I got you something expensive" gesture. The money would be much better spent on several sets of weighted shaker tins (go all-metal for shaking) and the other tools needed to get a drink made (strainers, jiggers, a good spoon, etc.).

                Then, spend the real money on items that enjoy a little more hands-on time. After a minute, the shaker will be sitting in your sink, waiting to be washed. Nice glassware, as has been said, has a better shot at making an impression, and can actually enhance the drinking experience.

                5 Replies
                1. re: big o
                  e
                  EraserGirl Feb 4, 2010 12:18 PM

                  1 What is the benefit of choosing a weighted shaker over a non. I am assuming the generic restaurant supply house version isn't as weighted as a high end shaker.

                  2. Can you use a shaker can with a mixing glass that has a pour spout? cocktailkingdom has some delicious mixing glasses but i doubt they can be used with a shaker without damaging them.,

                  1. re: EraserGirl
                    yarm Feb 4, 2010 01:02 PM

                    The pour spout ones are for stirring only.

                    No clue why you would choose a weighted one other than they might be sturdier or less likely to knock over when empty. A lot might have to do with aesthetics and matching the shaker to the bar's glassware.

                    1. re: yarm
                      JMF Feb 4, 2010 03:21 PM

                      the weighted tins have better balance and feel to them. They actually seem to make my arms/shoulders feel better.

                    2. re: EraserGirl
                      jerryc123 Feb 4, 2010 04:00 PM

                      I think weighted tins are also useful for "flair" bartending, when they are juggled.

                      1. re: jerryc123
                        JMF Feb 4, 2010 07:36 PM

                        flair. gag.

                  2. cdamaskos Dec 1, 2010 10:20 AM

                    I'm trying to find out if others have the same problem I have with my shaker. After shaking the drink, the metal seems to seize up and I can't pull the top off to make more drinks. Wouldn't all metal shakers do the same thing? This is isn't a cheap shaker.....and it makes me nervous to buy a new one...

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: cdamaskos
                      p
                      pthaloearth Dec 1, 2010 10:59 AM

                      that's very common, you just need to smack the side of the bottom tin a bit harder. If that doesn't work just wait a few for it to unfreeze and try again.

                      1. re: cdamaskos
                        w
                        will47 Dec 1, 2010 11:19 AM

                        What kind of shaker is it? With a boston shaker, you want to hit the thing sideways right to one side of (but not on) the point where the two tins (or the tin / glass) are closest together.

                        1. re: will47
                          p
                          pthaloearth Dec 1, 2010 04:02 PM

                          and if all else fails run it under warm tap water, it'll thaw it right out.

                        2. re: cdamaskos
                          yarm Dec 1, 2010 11:31 AM

                          Also very common with some 3 piece Cobbler shakers. I sometimes have to break the seal over under the cover first before I break the cap and sometimes I just need a rubber jar opener to get a better grasp on the cap.

                          If it's a Boston shaker, what the 2 posters above me said. And if it doesn't open after you hit it with the palm of your hand (right above where the top glass seals with the bottom metal), turn a 1/4 turn and repeat.

                          1. re: yarm
                            w
                            will47 Dec 1, 2010 12:50 PM

                            With cobbler or Parisian shakers, sometimes I've used a warm hand right where the pieces that are stuck fit together.

                          2. re: cdamaskos
                            tommy Dec 3, 2010 06:38 PM

                            I use a WMF Cromargan (boston) shaker, and while it forms a seal immediately, it never tightens to the point where it doesn't come apart easily. I can't imagine there's a better shaker out there.

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