One of the most satisfying things about making your own cocktail is using a shaker. It’s a signature bartender move and most people can’t wait to test it out themselves once they get their own cocktail making set.
When a cocktail recipe calls for the drink to be shaken, this is usually for the specific effect of mixing the ingredients or rapidly cooling or aerating them. This is therefore a process that’s not just for show but basically essential.
The issue, however, is that not everyone has access to a cocktail set or shaker! Can you even make cocktails without a shaker?
If your favourite cocktail calls for a shaker, you’ve likely landed on this article to see if there are any alternatives you can use and fortunately, there are.
In this article, we’ll run you through the different techniques and pieces of household equipment that can be used to make cocktails without a shaker.
Do You Really Need a Cocktail Shaker
Do you really need a cocktail shaker?
Yes and no…
A cocktail shaker is designed to be the difference between a regular cocktail and an exceptional one.
They serve a purpose and this is why they are considered to be essential barware for any cocktail bartender. While the mainstream cocktail shaker (a cobbler or Manhattan shaker) features a strainer built into the lid.
The one professional bartenders use – and best – type of shaker is the Boston shaker.
The reason why a cocktail shaker is essential (for drinks that call for it) is that shaking mixes the ingredients, rapidly chills and dilutes the drink, and most important of all is that shaking ensures a consistent taste from the first sip to the last.
If you’ve ever had a cocktail that starts off relatively easy to drink but ends with a cringe, because the taste of alcohol is overpowering, well this is what shaking certain drinks aims to prevent!
Whether or not you need a cocktail shaker is open to interpretation. To make a professional standard cocktail, it’s advised to use the best tools for the job (a cocktail shaker). As this isn’t a common household item though, we’ve tasked ourselves with putting together a short guide on making a cocktail without a shaker.
Common household items, some cheap alternatives, and a little ingenuity mean you can make bar-quality cocktails without needing to invest in a cocktail shaker.
Cocktail Shaker Alternatives
When it comes to making cocktails, most of the enjoyment comes from the theatre and the process of actually making the drink. Therefore, we’d always recommend that when making cocktails at home that you use the correct barware.
Obviously, if you’re reading this then you don’t have the necessary equipment to hand, or don’t want to have the expense of purchasing barware for something you’ll only use on occasion. In this instance, some household items will definitely be a better option than building a cocktail that requires shaking.
Below, we’ve listed some of the best cocktail shaker alternatives that almost any home will have and while they are not as effective as the trusty shaker, they’ll still do the job!
1. Protein Shaker
Protein shakers obviously have a different purpose but “shaker” is in the name after all. For any fitness enthusiasts out there, a protein shaker with a metal mixing ball or shaker lid is ideal for shaking ingredients and will do an excellent job for cocktails.
If you have a steel shaker, this is much better than the plastic shaker as the steel will quickly chill the drink upon shaking and is the material that best resembles a cobbler or Boston shaker.
2. Mason/Jam Jar
A Mason jar is the most common recommendation for those that don’t have a cocktail shaker. Most people have a Mason or jam jar of some sort in their kitchen so this is arguably the most realistic alternative for most people.
These jars have enough room for ice and a screw-on lid meaning the ingredients can be shaken without the risk of leaking.
** When using a Mason jar, it’s important to ensure the glass is tempered or heavy-duty. We’ll cover this in more detail later in this article but this is an important safety point!
3. Blender Bottle
Similar to a protein shaker, blender bottles offer another great alternative to cocktail shakers. These bottles need to be the personal size options (so not the large mixing jugs) which are usually around the 750ml capacity.
The great thing with blender bottles is that the tops screw on tightly but it also has a narrow lid making it easier to pour, similar to a cobbler shaker, and can even act as a strainer.
4. Travel Coffee Cup
This will depend on the size but travel coffee cups are actually great alternatives for shaking cocktails. This is due to their double-walled structure, which is designed to contain heat but also does an excellent job of managing rapid change in temperature when shaking ice.
Coffee cups are also specifically designed to hold liquid and prevent leaking which again makes them an excellent option for shaking cocktails. The only downside is that many coffee cups are of a smaller size as they are usually designed for a small espresso so it’s best to use a larger coffee cup as an alternative.
5. Measuring Jug
This one is a bit of an exception to the items listed above. With a measuring jug, you’re going to stir the ingredients in order to chill and dilute the drink.
This will not give the same effect as shaking. Therefore, if you are using a cocktail recipe that includes citrus, egg whites, or cream then this will not create a froth and you will not be able to replicate the finished product.
For any other drink minus the above ingredients, mixing the ingredients with a long utensil in a measuring jug will chill and dilute the ingredients whilst giving a consistent taste. Just add the ice and ingredients into the measuring jug, stir until chilled (this will take a while and is much slower than shaking) and pour into your glass to finish.
How To Make Cocktails Without A Shaker
Regardless of what vessel you use instead of a cocktail shaker (with the exception of a measuring jug), the process for shaking your cocktail will be the same. The steps you should follow are:
- Fill the vessel with ice using roughly twice as much ice as what you will have in ingredients and then combine the ingredients
- Tightly secure the lid to avoid any leaking
- Holding the top and bottom of the vessel with a firm grip, shake for 10 – 15 seconds to chill the ingredients.
- Strain into a cocktail glass to finish
If you’ve looked at some of the alternatives above, in particular, any that are using glass then we urge caution with this approach. A Boston shaker comes in two parts, stainless steel and glass. It can be easy to look at either of these two sections and not think anything of it.
The important thing to note, however, is that the glass section of a Boston shaker is made from tempered glass. Tempered glass is less prone to breaking or shattering and this is important when shaking cocktails with ice.
When shaking vigorously with ice, the rapid change in temperature and force used (from shaking) combine and could easily break any normal glass. Therefore, if you are looking to use an alternative that is made from glass, it’s best to ensure it’s either tempered glass or that you are incredibly cautious when shaking the drink!
A cocktail shaker is an essential piece of barware equipment and we’d always recommend have the correct equipment when it comes to making cocktails. This, however, is not always realistic so it’s useful to have some backup ideas to still create great cocktails at home.
The key to making a cocktail without a shaker is to chill and dilute the ingredients. Some ingredients will also call for aeration but as long as you have an airtight vessel that’s leakproof, you can create the same effect as you would get with a cocktail shaker.
In terms of reliability and similarity, we’d recommend using a protein shaker or blender cup (like Nutribullet) but any of the alternatives listed above will still do a good job!
There is also the option of buy one of our cocktail kits, such as the Espresso Martini Kit, which comes with a cocktail shaker.