Mason Shaker, A Comprehensive ReviewPosted February 28 2013
W&P Design recently launched their Mason Shaker product, this is a 4-piece cocktail shaker with a bit of hillbilly style. The latest craze in glassware is taking a mason jar and doing all kinds of crazy things with it from gluing on a candlestick to a jar to ... making a 4-piece "cobbler shaker" of sorts. While we do carry the Mason Shaker in our store I do believe in a fair and honest review because that's what consumers want: they want the details on what product to buy. Not really a huge risk to us, as we carry all three varieties of shakers so choose the one that fits your home best.
In our test we compare a 3-piece Cobbler Shaker and a Boston Shaker against the Mason Shaker.
Will It Chill?
Metal shakers chill super fast and evenly distribute that chill into the cocktail and "energize" it for drinking. Not many people enjoy lukewarm cocktails. The Mason Shaker indeed chills your drink through and through and at the same speed as both a cobbler and the Boston Shaker. The test: I shook all three with the same amount of ice and water and poured them into the exact same highball glass design (without additional ice) and tested the temperature for 30-seconds: all three hit 30F (-1C) and held strong.
Will It Disassemble Easy?
The reason I choose a Boston Shaker over the 3-piece cobbler shaker is simple: a cobbler shaker is impossible to take apart once you've created a cocktail with it. You're going to be running that sucker under hot water to peel the steel apart or you'll have a flat head screwdriver at the ready to start prying it apart. Annoying.
The 4-piece Mason Shaker comes apart with ease, just as a real Mason Jar lid. Just twisted, and take it off, you're done. That's a passing grade on low-tolerance annoyance level! The Boston Shaker is still faster, but some people fear breaking their Boston Shaker due to improper understanding of the 2-piece design so speed and skill are a factor with the Boston Shaker.
The Boston Shaker will be the runner up in this contest, as you need to buy a strainer in order to effectively handle this task. Once you have that strainer, it's the fastest strain in town hands down. However, I found the Mason Shaker a bit slow on the pour in their design. The strain holes are pretty small and air has a tough time getting into the shaker to help speed up the process. You'll find yourself holding the Mason Shaker at least twice as long as a 3-piece cobbler (at least your average cobbler) because the cobbler holes are typically large enough to work with. [UPDATE: Since this review, new production runs of the Mason Shaker have increased the hole size by double]
Add to this slow strain issue, any debris from a shaker with mint or herbs and you could end up struggling a bit to release all the fluid. The ice can sit on the strainer top and cause a bit of struggle. I found myself wiggling the shaker more like salt and pepper getting out every last drop.
Lastly, with the Mason Shaker the speed of the initial strain may be slow enough to cause some of the liquid to run down the edge, just a head's up.
After talking with Adam at The Boston Shaker in Somerville, MA (yes, he's probably a competitor in our space but he's cool so everyone just chill!) and his concern was simple: "there is no way that this shaker is going to be leak proof." Why? The cap seals over the steel strainer portion and that bottom piece will chill faster and contract before the lid, causing the lid to lose hold. Fact or fiction?
Adam's got something in his theory. In our testing we found that the lid does in fact leak a few drops when you shake it, especially on the first one to five shakes. It's not a major leak but some people won't tolerate it non-the-less. The 3-piece cobbler had a tight seal and didn't leak at all. The Boston Shaker will definitely leak if you don't do it correctly so the leak potential of a Boston Shaker is all about user error and not about product (the product itself can keep a great seal).
The leak potential can mostly be avoided with proper handling of the Mason Shaker when you initially start shaking, making sure to keep the lid-portion up fairly high during the first five shakes. However, if you're making extremely syrupy sweet cocktails that can be sticky, leaking at all can be a potential downer on your parade. My suggestion, as a general rule, use a bar towel or napkin when shaking much like most people do when dry shaking using a Boston Shaker.
This one is a bit subjective. I believe the most "common man" cocktail creator has at least one 3-piece cobbler shaker. They either got it as a gift, in a bundle with something else (like a spirit at Christmas or a gift set) or has bought a cheap one at a store (or through us.) I think the cobbler wins in overall practicality despite my hatred of their locking up when cold.
I do take a little issue with the "wide mouth" jar design when having to put ice in the shaker. A Boston Shaker is quite easy to add ice into the pint or the tin and the cobblers can be great or a bit of a pain (but usually they're fairly wide). The Mason Shaker brings a bit of a challenge to the table if you have larger ice cubes or a group of them together because they may get trapped on the mouth and you'll have to jiggle them a bit with your ice scoop (or hands) to get them into the jar.
The Mason Shaker is straightforward and easy to use without the locking constrains of a cobbler but they do tend to be a bit bigger, fatter in diameter so storage in a small area might be problematic (unless you're a canner style of person and have mason jars everywhere anyway). I believe the Boston Shaker is the most practical for cocktail enthusiasts that are busting out cocktails for friends at small parties or professionals at the bar--they're fast, effective and, when used correctly, the best thing you can get for your money.
From a pricing standpoint, the Mason Shaker isn't going to win any metals. It's more costly than the alternatives because it's not as mainstream and required a patent pending project of research to get to the end result. I believe the big price factor is the shaker strain design otherwise you've just got a mason jar (and you can buy them in sets of 24 pretty cheap.) However, the quality to the steel used is top-notch so you're not getting a product some guy cranked out in his garage and stuffed on eBay. As a matter of fact, I managed to drop mine onto the street today and, luckily, it landed on the shaker top and not the mason jar. I've got a dent in the metal a little bit (it was a pretty good drop) but the sucker works fine and didn't break, crack or anything. Sucker bounced back up at me!
Price wise, at least from AwesomeDrinks, the Boston Shaker is the best bang for the buck, but I have seen them on the market for much more than the Mason Shaker so it all depends on the shaker tin design and retailer.
The two competing products for cool factor are the Boston Shaker and the Mason Shaker. For now, I believe the Boston Shaker is going to lose out because of the fresh new hip style to the Mason jar design. Sure, a Boston Shaker will make you look like a professional but the Mason Shaker will have your friends going: "holy crap, what's that?" I think, for most of us, that's the end goal. Throw practicality out the window, it's all about response.
My Mason Shaker has only an hour run time (and one drop on the street) while my Boston Shakers are all easily in the 40 hour+ experience time and they're still holding up. So, time will tell on overall durability. I believe the cobbler is the shaker everyone has and the flair is pretty much non-existent and the Mason Shaker is going to be the trend moving forward for gift giving, humor and the "something different" factor. As a matter of fact, this is a shaker your grandmother can use and disassemble and reuse again... you can't say that about the Boston Shaker.
If ease of use becomes your primary factor when choosing a shaker in the near future, consider the Mason Shaker for its neat flair and creativity. You just have to consider the cons of minor leaking on aggressive shakes, small troubles with ice getting into the jar and a slow pour while straining. Otherwise, it's a solid design and will make great gifts for birthdays, holidays and when your second paycheck comes in this month.
Hope that helps make your next shaker buying decision just a bit easier.