The History of the Cocktail Shaker

Decedents of the cocktail shaker can be traced to South America in 7000 BC where a jar gourd was valued used.

in 3500 BC the Ancient Egyptians discovered that by adding spices to their grain fermentations they could develop more palatable beverages. So… was this a forerunner of the cocktail as we no know it?

Well… archaeologists of modern day are yet to find hieroglyphic evidence that details a list of cocktail recipes inside any of the Great Pyramids. However we do know that in 1520 Cortez wrote to King Charles V of Spain from the New World. He spoke of a particular drink made from cacao amongst other ingredients, he served this with such served reverence, frothy in consistency and foaming from a golden cylinder.

Lets skip on a bit …. by the late 1800s, the bartender’s Cocktail shaker as we know it today had become a standard implement behind any bar.

When an innkeeper was one day pouring the liquid from one container to another in order to impress his punters he held the two similar shaped vessels together for a snug fit allowing him to shake the newly formed unit. The Cocktail shaker had been born.

The next development would be the colonization of the customary “5 O’clock English Tea”. This quintessentially English phenomenon would soon develop into a 5 O’clock cocktail hour. The ideology became so popular that the fashion was soon to become one on the home and cocktail shakers soon became common place across homes in a style that somewhat resembled a tea pot.

In the 1920s Gin martinis were served from afluent sterling silver cocktail shakers by high society. Meanwhile less affluent members of society continued the fashion with glass or nickel-plated devices.

The Great War was at its end and a s reaction to many years of hardship and sacrifice euphoria took hold, marked by party-going and a frenzied quest for indulgent pleasure.

The International Silver Company produced shakers in the form of:

• The Boston Lighthouse
• Golf bags,
• Roosters
• Penguin-shapes
• Germany zeppelins
• Aero planes

As well as traditional shapes.

Many of these shapes were not entirely for entertainment because of their immediately random appearance.

The rooster: or “cock of the walk,” for example, had long served as a symbol for public house or tavern signs.

The penguin: with its natural “tuxedo” symbolized the good life.

The Graf Zeppelin: had become the first commercial aircraft to cross the Atlantic – an 111-hour non-stop flight which captured the attention of the on looking world.

These inspired designs soon became all the rage, cocktail shaker handling and well executed drinking rituals were as important in the Jazz Age lifestyle as the ability to cut the latest dance steps.

Colorful cocktails soon came onto the menu with sweet mixers helping disguise the taste of homemade hooch. All the while gin, with its easier to manufacture than rye or scotch qualities became the drink of choice and the razzmatazz of the martini society’s favorite.

The cocktail shaker explosion

The real popularity explosion of the cocktail shaker occurred after the retraction of Prohibition in 1933.

The retraction of Prohibition saw the cocktail shaker featured frequently on the now ever popular silver screen. shakers and Gin cocktails played a  part of every movie set. Stars were depicted constantly sipping cocktails, Gin cocktail became a symbol of sophistication.

Society soon came to view the Gin cocktail as a an escape to shake themselves out of the depression that currently gripped the country.

By the end of the era shakers and Gin cocktails had become standard household activities and an affordable pastime for all. The modern  families of the time had at least one shaker on their shelves. The newly fashioned cocktail party influenced fashion, furniture, and interior design.

The humble coffee tables in homes  were now termed cocktail tables, and Coco Chanels’ little black dress went from became the ultimate in fashion icon.


The rise of the Second World War was to see the end of the golden era for the cocktail shaker as materials used were deployed for making artillery shells and other arms for the battle field.


The early 1950’s saw a brief return of the cocktail shaker before the age of technology gave rise to modern devices for mixing and stirring. Redi-mix concoctions replaced the art of mixology and a new era began.

Now attics the world over house a vast exhibition of the wonderfully intricate and creative cocktail shakers of the romantic days when drinking cocktails was part of ones everyday routine.

But all said …now the cocktail has been raised to its rightful position as a truly elegant and wonderful way to pass a few hours.

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