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by Ron McCoy

"I'd like a martini, very dry... Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride" --Bette Davis

There's a whole lotta shakin' going on -- again! Cocktail shakers are back, people are collecting and prices are rising on this once-sophisticated home accessory. The popularity in these now-trendy collectibles has a new generation of young adults revisiting an older era when things were classier and martinis were in vogue.

With the renaissance of the martini in this decade, a drink which flourished in the 1920s and 1930s, the cocktail shaker was bound to follow. The classic dry martini, whose origin is still hotly debated by historians, is simple: gin, vermouth and an olive garnish. It is shaken (or is it stirred?) in a very functional tool -- the cocktail shaker. Hollywood films glamourized the cocktail shaker and the martini glass as a sign of elegance and the finer things of life.

The vintage cylinders were produced in silver, silverplate, chrome, nickel-plate, aluminum or glass. Although utilitarian, the cocktail shaker, an American invention, is found styled in a myriad of shapes and sizes. Often Bakelite or Catalin handles and knobs adorn the classier silver or chrome models. Chase, Manning Bowman, Forman Bros., Revere, Farber, and Napier are recognizable shaker manufacturers.

Along with the traditional cylindrical design, shakers can take the unusual shapes of penguins, skyscrapers, bullets, bowling pins, zeppelins, roosters, dumb-bells, hourglasses and other icons of the age of their original popularity. Glass and crystal shakers often bear the name of well-known companies: Heisey, Cambridge, Hazel Atlas, Imperial, Hocking, Owens, etc.

Bargains on shakers, especially glass ones from the 50s & 60s, can still be found in all price ranges at flea markets, garage sales, estate sales, antiques stores/malls and online auctions, but prices are rising and the older, more elaborate prize pieces are harder to find. Because of this, reproductions of art deco barware are showing up in speciality shops and department stores.

Following the popularity of vintage cocktail shakers, bar accoutrements are also making a comeback as collectibles. These items include: corkscrews, glassware, swizzle sticks, aprons, ice buckets, serving trays, ashtrays, sheet music, bar coasters, napkins, recipe books, postcards, bottle openers, electric blenders, ice buckets, ice crushers, seltzer bottles, serving trays, olive picks, whiskey jiggers and novelty bar items.

Values on vintage cocktail shakers and barware vary greatly depending on condition, supply/demand and from one locale to another.

Cocktail Shakers | Bar Tools


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