For those of you who know me, and for those of you who don’t, my booze of choice is Vodka. It’s the kool-aid with so many options it can be hard to decide what to drink next, and when your finished drinking you can simplify your cleaning habits, and maybe sneak a slurp or two! My drink of choice is an extra dirty Vodka martini, three olives, preferably with Grey Goose or Belvedere. Yes, I know there are stupidly expensive, supposedly more smooth than rain vodkas like, Crystal head vodka, by the blues brother himself, Dan Aykroyd. But a good quality Vodka shouldn’t cost more than $20-$30 bucks a bottle. However, anything below $10 bucks a bottle save your self the trouble, run to Target and buy yourself some rubbing alcohol. It’s cheaper and tastes about the same . Ok, obviously I am not condoning such ridiculous behavior but cheap Vodka feels like jet fuel down your throat. If you can’t afford the good stuff, wait until you can.

Vintage Cocktail Shakers

Crystal head vodka

Part of the allure and fun of drink making is the ritual of making the drink.  Due to the resurgence of such drinks like the martini and the cosmopolitan, there has been a renewed curiosity with cocktail shakers. More importantly the revival of pre WWII cocktail shakers. The height of their decorative popularity was between WWI and WWII. However, when WWII began the heyday of the luxury item ceased and all metal went to the war effort, therefore they have become highly collectible!

Vintage Cocktail Shakers

1927 Lighthouse Cocktail shaker

This cocktail shaker shown above, from is made by International Silver Plate, and is one of the rarest cocktail shakers around. Mainly due to its enormous size, and it has been preserved in such magnificent condition it comes in at $23,900!

Vintage Cocktail Shakers

Manhattan cocktail shaker

Also by, this shaker by Revere Bel Geddes is ca 1936. Pulling in a price tag of $3900, this set is highly collectible and equally rare because it includes the cups, which were only made between 1936 and 1940.

Instant Style that’s affordable:

Vintage cocktail shakers are a great way to add immediate style to your bar, and are a fun item to look for and collect. They are also very fun to incorporate into your decor. Many of them have sharp lines, energetic pops of color,and a spirited history. For those interested in collecting and thinking this sort of thing is out of your price range, not to worry. Many sets are available in the $150-$300 price range.

4 Vintage Cocktail Shakers everyone needs to know

1) The Skyscraper

Vintage Cocktail Shakers

Vintage Cocktail shaker

Deemed the skyscraper for their unique sleek shapes, iconic asymmetrical spout and staggering height. Drink up!

2) Revere

Revere Cocktail Shaker

Revere Cocktail Shaker

The epitome of Art Deco design many of W.A Weldon’s pieces were designed in the mid to late thirties. This iconic cocktail shaker is a great example of modern 1930’s American design. It was designed by William Archibald Welden in 1938 for the Revere Copper and Brass company.

3) Chase

Vintage Cocktail Shakers

Chase Cocktail shakers

Also during the Art Deco period in the mid to late thirties was the Chase Brass and Copper company. Their shakers were streamlined polished chrome and included Bakelite accents, jewel color and their iconic tops. While they made several shaker styles, this shaker shown above, to me, embodies THE chase cocktail shaker.

4) The Zeppelin

Vintage Cocktail Shakers

The Zeppelin Cocktail Shaker

The Zeppelin Cocktail shaker was introduced in 1928 with nickel plated body and gold inserts containing the following: four cups, one funnel, one strainer with juicer, cap and body, nose cone, decanter, tail and cover for sugar, cup & cover for dried fruit, muddler, and finally a cork screw. The zeppelin comes in many shapes, but always holds true to it’s iconic silver bullet style.

Tips for collecting:

  • Design-Look for whimsical and clever designs. The Zeppelin, a lighthouse, or a women’s leg are most valued amongst collectors. Anything with unusual shape and style
  • Manufacturers-Chase, International Silver, and Revere are known for their silver-plating. If you prefer glass look for shakers by Cambridge Glass, Hawkes Glass company or Hazel Atlas,( known for their cobalt blue glass.)
  • Pricing-Styles that were mass produced bear a lower price tag for collectors. These pieces can be picked up for less than $200 while rarer finds by designers like Geddes or Russel Wright can run into the thousands. (hence the $23K price tag of the lighthouse)

What to avoid:

  • Avoid pieces with dents, scratches and flakes. Major damage will lower the value and will not appreciate in value.
  • Examine a glass shaker closely for any major chips, cracks or scratches
  • Color-The more brilliant the color the higher the value. Look for bright, clear colors for glass. For instance cobalt blue was the hardest to produce and therefore commands the highest price tag.
  • Reproductions-Be sure the piece you are buying is authentic. Get to know the shakers you love. Learn their history and do your homework before you purchase. Most shakers have patent numbers, manufacturer inscriptions or stamps.
Vintage Cocktail Shakers

Vintage cocktail hour

Where to buy:

Having an afternoon toddy was a favorite past time of many Americans during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. It was considered an entertaining essential to all get together’s. For this reason the cocktail shaker is fairly easy to find. Antique malls, flea markets, swap meets and places like, and are also excellent online resources. And you will never have more fun than looking for one, and when you find a set that sings to you, you’ll be hooked!

French 75 cocktail

Pineapple Mint Julep

Orange blossom cocktail


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images: flickr, james allen,Cocktail shakers, 1st dibs, Art knowledge, Space modern, Southern accents
Content research: Stephen Viskay