The Boston Shaker


Cocktail shakers are one of the best bar tools, the most popular option being the Boston shaker.

History of the Cocktail Shaker

The cocktail shaker that we have come to know today didn’t become part of cocktail tools until the mid-19th century. Before then, the first cocktail shakers were found as early as 7000 BC in South America. Researchers have found fragments of bottles that contain small traces of alcohol, and they have identified these fragments as having the purpose of mixing drinks.

Before the 19th century, drinks were mixed between two glasses to combine ingredients. The stainless steel cocktail shakers weren’t standard in bars until the mid-1850s, and shortly after, the act of shaking a drink became more prominent in bars.

Since then, many different versions and improvements to cocktail shakers have emerged, and while three of these versions are still used today, the most common one you’ll find in a bar is the Boston shaker.

Boston Shaker

The Boston shaker was developed in the United States in the mid-19th century, though it’s uncertain who invented the Boston Shaker first. The earliest form of the shaker was a tin cup with a glass or another tin, and over time small tweaks and improvements were made to it; now, most Boston shakers are made of stainless steel because it’s durable and less likely to rust, with a glass cup.


How to Use

Using a Boston Shaker is fairly easy.

  1. Take both parts of the Boston Shaker and fill the glass mixer with the cocktail ingredients and ice.
  2. Position the tin at an angle over the smaller glass and hit the top of it to create a seal between both.
  3. Hold the Boston shaker with one hand, placing either your thumb or bottom two fingers over the base. The other hand should be on the other half of the shaker with your fingers situated similarly. This gives you a better grip on the shaker.
  4. Shake vigorously for up to 30 seconds. This action is meant to chill the cocktail.
  5. When finished, you’ll need to separate the containers. You can tap the side of the shaker with your hand; you should hear a slight pop to signal the separation. The other method is to squeeze the bottom of the shaker, just above the seal, and pull.
  6. Use a strainer. There are two common types of strainers:
  • Hawthorne Strainer: The Hawthorne strainer has a coil around the edge, and it is placed on the metal half of the shaker with the coil side down. This allows it to hold back ice and any ingredients while the drink is being poured.
  • Julep Strainer: The Julep strainer looks like a large spoon with holes. It can be used on the smaller half of the shaker. The curved side is placed on the glass and is held in place while pouring.

Out of both types of strainers, the Hawthorne strainer is highly recommended for shaken drinks.


There are a few benefits to using a Boston Shaker instead of other options.


Easy To Use

Boston shakers are very easy to use. Once you’ve added all the ingredients into the metal tin, you simply place the cup over the top and shake! Compared to other traditional shakers, A Bar Above has one of the best bar tools for making cocktails.

Easy To Clean

On top of being easy to use, Boston shakers are also very easy to clean. The two parts of it can be separated, and each can be washed with soap and water.


There are a few useful tips to keep in mind when using the Boston shaker.

  • Remember to purchase a strainer, as the Boston shaker is an option that doesn’t have a built-in strainer.
  • Double-check the seal before shaking to prevent a mess.
  • Only fill the mixer up to 2/3 of its volume. This helps to avoid leaks when shaking.
  • Clean the Boston shaker very well between uses.

Popular Cocktails

While there are a variety of different cocktails that use the Boston shaker, the three popular options are martinis, cosmopolitan, and margaritas.


Delicious and easy to make, the ingredients for a martini are:

  • 3.5 ounces of gin or vodka
  • 0.5 ounces of vermouth
  • Ice
  • Olive or lemon for garnish

When mixing:

  • Fill the Boston shaker 2/3 full with ice and pour in all the necessary ingredients.
  • Properly seal both parts of the shaker together tightly to avoid leakage.
  • Shake the cocktail with your fingers placed correctly for a firm hold.
  • When starving, remove the tumbler with your dominant hand and hold the mixing glass in your other hand.
  • Strain the contents through your choice of strainer into a serving glass.

Because martinis can either be shaken or stirred, ask your guest their preference.

Source: Cosmopolitan


In bars, the Cosmopolitan is one of the more popular cocktail options. It’s very easy and requires a few ingredients, which are:

  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • 1-ounce cranberry juice
  • ½ ounce triple sec
  • 1 1/1 ounces of vodka

Fill your Boston shaker with ice and add in all of the ingredients. Shake well and strain into a large cocktail glass. You can garnish with a lime wheel, but that part is optional.


There are a few different versions of the origin of margaritas, but they became commonplace in the 20th century. They’re one of the drinks that involve the usage of a Boston shaker, and they are very easy to make.

The ingredients are:

  • 1 Lime cut into slices
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 cup of ice cubes
  • ½ cup of tequila
  • ¼ cup of triple sec or other liqueur
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice

The steps to making a margarita are as follows:

  • Press the rim of the margarita glasses onto the lime slices and dip rims and salt to lightly coat.
  • Combine tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and ice cubes into the Boston cocktail shaker and
  • Shake vigorously until the outside is frosty. Using your preferred strainer, strain the mixture into the prepared glasses and garnish with limes.

The Boston shaker has stood the test of time, and based on its popularity, it looks like it’ll continue to be the most used option for years to come.