The cocktail shaker’s past can be traced to the gourds of ancient civilisations, while recently evolving into a modern consumer good and symbol of style.
The History of the Cocktail Shaker
Ingredients: The mixer is a vital ingredient for any cocktail. We list the most popular ones and offer some tips on using mixers in your cocktails.
Glassware: Choose the right glasses for your cocktails and know the names of those most commonly used for mixed drinks.
History: The origin of the name ‘cocktail’ is not certain, though many explanations have been suggested.
Rules of Darts
The cocktail shaker originates from the everyday containers used to store, mix or transport their contents. Early examples of these go back many thousands of years BC in South America, Egypt and Mesopotamia, where gourds and other containers were valued highly. However, it took until 1900 for the modern idea of a cocktail shaker to become commonly used by bartenders. Indeed, at this time New York City hotels were still serving five o'clock tea as was customary in England, and when cocktails replaced tea at five, some shakers looked very like the teapots they had replaced.
In the 1920s martinis were all the rage and served from silver shakers by the wealthy, or glass or nickel-plated shakers for the less affluent. Jubilation marked the end of the First World War, and party going and pleasure seeking was the name of the game. The mixed drink and cocktail shaker were pushed underground by Prohibition. As the popularity of the cocktail shaker increased, the styles and shapes that were produced became more and more ambitious. From planes, roosters, golf bags, to penguins, the variety was incredible.
By the end of the 1930’s, the cocktail shaker had become affordable household objects, mass-produced in factories. Chrome-plated stainless steel shakers with Bakelite finish replaced those of sterling silver. At this time, skyscrapers had inspired many designs, notably the work of Norman Bel Geddes. His sleek 1936 chrome-plated "Manhattan Skyscraper serving set" is still sought by collectors today! By now the range of shapes and styles had expanded even further, encompassing such mundane items as bowling pins or dumbbells.
The beginning of the Second World War meant metal was needed for military manufacturing, ending the golden era of the cocktail shaker. After the war, they faded from popular culture and fashion. In the early 1950s, a brief renewal of interest in cocktail shakers was expressed by a surge of diabolical battery-powered stirring devices, electric blenders, and ready-mixes. The rituals, showmanship, and style were forgotten in an age obsessed by new technology. Now, fifty years later, people have rediscovered cocktail shakers as symbols of elegance and flair.
Back to History. . .