A bartender opening a cocktail shaker

Why Does My Cocktail Shaker Get Stuck? Problem Solved

A bartender opening a cocktail shaker

Bartending tools seem easy enough to use since they are straightforward at one glance. Take the cocktail shaker, for example. One just has to combine all the ingredients, put the lid on, and mix them until it is ready to serve. 

However, it gets frustrating when a cocktail shaker gets stuck, causing delays in serving the drinks. But this is pretty normal and should be easy to remedy. Read on to learn more.

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Why Does a Shaker Get Stuck?

There are several causes why a cocktail shaker gets stuck. Sometimes, a mixture contains sticky ingredients that can get inside the strainer or the cap, making it difficult to open it up. At times, the body is matched with the wrong strainer or cap. There are also instances where the bartender just forced the parts to assemble, making it hard to separate them. 

When it comes to the material used in cocktail shakers, it is the metal or stainless steel that sometimes causes the tool to get stuck. A mixture of liquors and other ingredients is usually mixed with ice. Stainless steel is a good conductor and makes the mixture cold quickly, creating frost outside the tin. When metal gets cold, it contracts and results in the shaker getting stuck.

If action is not taken immediately, it can only worsen, and it will be more challenging to separate the parts. Gladly, there are several ways to fix this situation.


How to Fix a Stuck Cocktail Shaker?

To prolong your cocktail shaker’s lifespan and usage, it must be taken care of and apply corrective measures when it gets stuck. We’ll discuss the methods separately for the two types of cocktail shakers since they have different complexity levels.

Instructions for a Boston Shaker

Since a Boston shaker only has two pieces, there aren’t many complications separating the parts, especially if one component is glass instead of tin. This type of cocktail shaker doesn’t have a cap, so it is crucial to separate the parts as soon as possible. 

If you’re a newbie, it can be intimidating to get it done, especially if your hands could not tolerate the cold tin. But, constant practice will make it easier.

  1. After shaking, the two parts should be separated immediately. Otherwise, it’ll get stuck. The most common way to do it is by tapping the two containers’ intersection against the heel of your hand. If the first try does not separate it, tap it again. 
  2. If it doesn’t open yet, try twisting the two to loosen it. 
  3. The mixing glass should typically be at an angle, so if you press your thumbs in the opposite direction, it should separate from the shaker tin. 
  4. Sometimes, the tin part is still bendable, so if you give it a light squeeze, the glass part will loosen up, ultimately separating the two. 

Instructions for a Cobbler Shaker

Fixing a stuck Cobbler shaker is a lot harder than the Boston shaker because it has more components and would require more steps to take. The strainer or the cap may get stuck while you are using it. Worst, both of the parts may get tangled and make it harder to separate them. 

If you can open the cap and not the strainer, you can still empty the shaker’s content. However, cleaning the shaker tin will be difficult since you cannot get your hands or cleaning tools thoroughly inside the shaker. 

Another scenario is that you can remove the strainer, but the cap is still stuck. Either way, you have to fix both parts when this happens.

The first remedy that most people try is to pour some hot water at the lining of the cap or the filter, depending on which component is stuck. This should warm the tin and cause it to loosen up. This solution is only applicable if the contents are already emptied. Otherwise, this will compromise the drink’s temperature.

Cap is Stuck, but the Strainer is Not

A cool trick to get the component out is by using barbecue sticks. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Stick a couple of barbecue sticks through the holes of the strainer. Make sure the smooth end goes through the holes.
  2. Tie the sticks with a rubber band to keep them in place.
  3. Place a towel on the table to protect it from marks. 
  4. Lift the strainer, then pound the sticks against the table, and you’ll hear a pop, which should mean that the cap is off.

Strainer is Stuck, but the Cap is Not

  1. Try tapping the lining where the shaker tin and the strainer meet against the edge of a table. 
  2. If this doesn’t work, soak the shaker in a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes, then transfer it to a bowl of hot water. The temperature change should help it loosen up and do the trick. 
  3. Another way to use this temperature difference trick is by putting the shaker in the freezer for 5 minutes then take it out. Condensation will then form on the outside of the shaker that should make the strainer come off. 


Next time you encounter your cocktail shakers getting stuck, you can quickly solve them with the tips mentioned above. However, it’s best if you can prevent such incidents from happening. 

Being a great bartender requires many skills. If you hope to become one, you must be equipped with problem-solving skills, such as fixing a stuck cocktail shaker. It’s pretty easy, and with practice, you’ll be a natural.

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  • This trick surely worked for me.



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