Our Top Pick for 2018: Bar Brat Premium SST Cocktail Shaker
Read our full review.
For those with a home bar or who insist on having the ability to make their own cocktails in the comfort of their own home, the process doesn’t have to be complex, and it doesn’t have to be done in an ad hoc manner. There are excellent cocktail shakers and sets available that will allow you to quickly and “expertly” shake up professional-style drinks for yourself and for guests. Without a cocktail shaker, mixing a well balanced drink can be a challenge. Avoiding layering by transferring water and alcohol back and forth between several glasses is both time-consuming and potentially messy. A good cocktail shaker fixes these problems, and many of them do it for a very affordable price. Cocktail shakers have been a basic part of barware since the 19th Century, and they are commonly made a part of even the most basic home bar. Choosing a model that is both functional and stylish will allow you to serve guests up quality drinks to guests with both speed and a little showmanship. Below, we review four of the best cocktail shakers on the market today.
Let’s Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
|5 Piece Deluxe 24 Oz. Cocktail Shaker Bar Set by Bar Brat / Bonus 130+ Cocktail Recipes (ebook) /...||30 Reviews||$19.95||Buy on Amazon|
|Barware Styles Classic and Elegant Stainless Steel 3-Piece Martini and Cocktail Shaker Set||1,063 Reviews||$14.90||Buy on Amazon|
|OXO Good Grips Plastic Cocktail Shaker||250 Reviews||$24.95||Buy on Amazon|
|Winco Stainless Steel 3-Piece Cocktail Shaker Set, 16-Ounce||224 Reviews||$7.44||Buy on Amazon|
#1. Bar Brat Premium SST Cocktail Shaker
Bar Brat is a major name in the barware industry, and they are known for consistently delivering quality workmanship to consumers. This Premium SST Cocktail Shaker is no exception. It is durable, simple to use, fun to use, and only costs around $20. It also comes with a no-questions-asked money back guarantee, which makes it clear that Bar Brat is confident in their product. It comes as a kit, so you will not only get the shaker but also a built-in strainer and an over-sized, double-sided jigger with one and half ounce sides.
The Bar Brat Cocktail Shaker holds up to 24 ounces, is made of stainless steel that is both extra-strong and fully rust-resistant, is stamped with the prestigious-looking Bar Brat logos, is dishwasher safe, and comes with a free 101-count cocktail recipe booklet. It also comes in particularly elegantly styled packaging, which Bar Brat designs shall facilitate its being given as is as a gift.
The Bar Brat measures 7.6 x 3.6 x 3.6 inches, stands nine inches tall with the cap on, and weighs in at 11.2 ounces. It makes four to six drinks at a time or six to 10 shot glass sized drinks. The lid seals on nicely to avoid unnecessary spills, and the strainer keeps your drinks smooth as can be. Some may be disappointed to hear, however, that it is made in China.
The Bar Brat is not strictly limited to cocktails, but it can mix any kind of cocktail you like. It can also mix martinis, mojitos, and much more. It is also useful to cool down drinks, regardless of type, since the strainer and seal-tight lid do their jobs flawlessly.
The strainer is particularly helpful because it allows you to pour your cooled-down drink without putting ice in the glass, which would serve to dilute it. The jigger is precisely accurate and easy to use. You need not mix another drink based on guesswork. Users report that the lid is sometimes a bit tough to pry off after shaking, but yet, this is a better flaw than a leaky shaker. The set is complete enough that you have everything you need to mix a cocktail, save the cocktail ingredients themselves.
The shiny stainless steel looks great on a shelf with your other barware, though you may need to polish it up a bit with a dish towel after a cycle in the dishwasher. Otherwise, it tends to have a few spots, which however, will only bother the most aesthetically demanding among us. The Bar Brat certainly makes mixing cocktails extremely easy, and more than one reviewer reports that their cocktails were dismal before but are near-perfect after using the Bar Brat Cocktail Shaker.
#2. Barware Styles Classic Elegant Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker
The Barware Styles Classic Elegant Cocktail Shaker is indeed elegant, a masterpiece of design. It is also constructed of high-grade stainless steel, which is free of BPA and other chemicals you would not want to taste in your carefully shaken cocktail. In fact, its toxin-free status is even certified by the FDA. The Barware Styles shaker is also rust-resistant, dishwasher safe, easy to use, easy to clean, and only costs $10 to $12.
The shaker has a 24 ounce capacity, easily enough to make a handful of drinks at once, in case you are entertaining a few guests at home. It professional look, capacity, and precision mixing ability also make it a fair choice to use at an actual bar. The Barware Styles Cocktail Shaker weighs in at 12 ounces, measures out at 9.2 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches, and comes with an extra-large jigger with both one and half ounce measurement sides.
The Barware Styles shaker is not at all prone to leakage, but again like the Bar Brat reviewed above, many reviewers said they had a little struggle to get the lid off after shaking a cocktail. The mixing is complete and the measurements precise, however, so once you pry up the lid, what’s inside is true quality. As an added bonus, Barware Styles includes with purchase a downloadable e-recipe-book to give you plenty of cocktail-mixing ideas.
Some users complained that the strainer was poorly attached, allowing it to move out of place as temperature changes inside the shaker caused its metal to expand and contract. It may jiggle around a little at worst, but it will still function well, and pouring your drink through it into the glass should never be a problem. Some also said that the jigger is rather basic, lacking even common features like measuring lines, but if you fill it up to the top, it will still work just fine.
All in all, we can say that the Barware Styles Cocktail Shaker is a simple but effective barware set. It is a step down from the more expensive Bar Brat but still has some of the same features. It has an elegant look about it, but it certainly is not anything “fancy.”
#3. OXO Good Grips Plastic Cocktail Shaker
OXO’s cocktail shaker is priced about the same as the Barware Styles reviewed above (around $15), the main difference being that it is of plastic rather than of stainless steel construction. It is also smaller, holding only 16 ounces instead of 24. It is fully plastic except for the built-in strainer, which is metal. The cap doubles as a jigger.
The OXO also offers double-walled insulation that blocks the transfer of heat or cold between your drink inside the shaker and your hand that are holding it. This prevents “frostbite hands,” so common among those who shake cocktails with metal-and-glass models. It also eliminates “sweating” on the outside of the shaker, and a non-slip, tight-grip material makes it unlikely the shaker will even slip out of your hands while you are using it.
The great insulation also means it is possible to use the OXO for other hot and cold drinks like iced coffee, for example. The result will not satisfy connoisseurs of iced coffee, who demand a cold-brewed process and find cooled-down hot-brewed coffee “bitter.” However, for many, it will be satisfactory, and this adds versatility to the OXO’s list of benefits.
The OXO Cocktail Shaker measures 3.5 x 3.5 x 9 inches, weighs 9.6 ounces, has 1.5, 1.0, and 0.75 markings on its jigger-cap, and is dishwasher safe. The jigger’s measurement lines, however, tend to erode after a few cycles in the dishwasher, so some prefer to hand-wash it. Many drinks are too large for the OXO’s 16 ounces to make even two of them, so unless you like smaller-sized cocktails, this is a one-at-a-time shaker model.
The OXO is much more quiet during shaking than its metallic competitors, and some people also say that they do not like metal touching their drinks. The taste of metal can, potentially, leak into a drink, though with higher-grade stainless steel, this is unlikely. Plastic is no less safe for your drink’s taste, however. The shaker does not leak, and the lid is easier to take off than with the two models reviewed above. The lid is not threaded, and so it slides on and off very easily but still stays on tight while shaking, though it is best to gently press down on it with your index finger.
The OXO is another mid-ranged cocktail shaker, and if you are looking for a plastic shaker, this is probably your best choice.
#4. Winco Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker
The Winco Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker is an excellent budget pick at only about $7. It is not a star when it comes to style, but it gets the job done well enough. It is somewhat small at only 16 ounce capacity, but if you don’t mind making small drinks or shaking them one at a time, 16 ounces is sufficient. The stainless steel makes it as durable and shiny as you can expect from a low-end model.
The Winco comes with both jigger top and strainer, and the top shuts very tightly to prevent leaks. However, you should hold your finger on it while shaking just to be on the safe side. After shaking something very cold, on the other hand, it can actually take a little effort to pry the lid back off.
The shaker measures 3 x 3 x 8.1 inches and weighs only 8.8 ounces. If the construction is basic, yet the design is classic. If you want a smaller and cheaper model, you probably won’t find anything better than this. Larger shakers can be bulky to use and to store, and when you want something easy to carry with you and just right for one or two drinks only, the Winco fits the bill.
The Winco is easy to use, easy to clean, and even dishwasher safe. It is far short of “deluxe,” but it is sturdily built, does not leak, and pours out easy and completely. If you put a lot of ice in, expect it to get very cold, more than the average shaker. You can just hold it with a towel, however, to solve the problem. Finally, we must mention that the Winco is made in India, which though less polarized than the “made in China” imprint, will be a negative in the estimation of many.
A $20 cocktail shaker is standard for many home bars, and professional bars often invest in one in the $50 to $75 range. If all you need is a basic shaker that works properly, however, the Winco Cocktail Shaker is an excellent choice.
Top brands and models are going to use better materials. Even when both use stainless steel, the high-end shakers will have it thicker, tougher, shinier, and more durable. If you insist on a shaker you can use for years to come, it is much better to spend $5 or $10 extra dollars now than to replace one just a little cheaper a lot sooner than you are happy with.
Cocktail shakers are to be seen as much as to be used. Often, guests will watch you keenly as you shake up their cocktails right in front of them. Are you concerned that they see a classy, professional-looking shaker? Maybe not, but if so, you will have to pay a little extra for the privilege. Sleek, curved contours and abundant detail work just don’t exist on the low-end models.
Not only should your cocktail set include a strainer, but it needs to be one that does a truly thorough job. Floating fruit pulp can interfere with the texture of your drink, and shards of ice can water it down. The ice is there to chill the drink, but after it has served its purpose, it needs to be removed.
You want a tight-fitting lid that will not leak. You may have to pry up a bit to get it off at the end, but that can be tolerated. You may have to hold your index finger lightly on the lid of lower-end models, but that can also be dealt with. A lid that is loose and frequently leaks at the edges is beyond toleration, however.
A separate jigger will come with top models, and it will generally be over-sized and double-sided. This allows you to measure highly accurately for both one and half ounces. Lower-end models will often have a jigger-top combination. That is fine, but make sure there are measurement lines inside and it is easy to use them, so you don’t have to fill the jigger-cap perilously full and risk spilling its contents.
Plastic or Metal?
Stainless steel is generally the superior shaker material, but it is not the preference of all. While it is sturdier and looks more attractive, it can also chill your hands while it chills the drink. Thicker steel or insulated steel will lessen that effect, but plastic is much easier on your hands. Some also dislike their drinks touching metal but somehow don’t mind it touching plastic. Plastic is cheaper as well. You will have to decide which material’s benefits are more important to you.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
A good cocktail shaker is virtually required at every home bar. It is basic equipment that will be used frequently. Finding the best cocktail shaker will help your drink making be convenient, accurate, and stylish. Above, we reviewed four of the best cocktail shakers on the market today. The Bar Brat is a high-quality model, but it will cost you $20. The Barware Styles and OXO are more mid-ranged, in both price and quality, differing mostly in the former being stainless steel and the latter being plastic. The Winco is very affordable at under $10, and it is rather functional and durable for a low-end option.
Each buyer will have to decide which features are most important to him and how much he is willing to pay for them. Those who use their cocktail shakers frequently or are trying to impress guests will want a high-end model. Those who make cocktails only rarely will likely be satisfied with a cheaper but adequate shaker. For everyone in between, there are mid-ranged cocktail shakers that make a compromise between price and in-built quality.