Selecting the best cocktail shaker
I have decided to purchase a boston shaker for my boyfriend and am having a difficult time. I bought this one:
But I feel like I overpaid since coming across this one:
I was wondering if there were any major difference between a $117 dollar shaker and a $14.40 dollar one.?
$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:
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...
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
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
ps - for cheaper stuff, I recommend:
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:
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.
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!
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.
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
And a larger weighted tin like this one
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.
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.
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.
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.