YETI is releasing the Rambler Cocktail Shaker ($60) this fall. So, of course we had to get our hands on one to test. The Rambler is made with stainless steel, has double-wall insulation, and is described as nearly indestructible. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the shaker is quite simply a YETI tumbler with a new cobbler shaker lid. The lid is compatible with other YETI cups with the same diameter lip, and the shaker lid is sold separately for $25 if you already have a cabinet full of Ramblers.
Though it’s handy to pop the lid on whatever YETI cup you have, this shaker reminds us of Mason jar shakers and other retro-fitted mixers that don’t necessarily reinvent the wheel. In our experience, however, Yeti doesn’t typically release products that don’t prove to be extremely tough, useful, or both, so we were game to test it out. We asked Mary-Frances Heck, our resident food and drink expert, to put it through the gauntlet of cocktail hour.
My first question is: why a cocktail shaker? Bartenders and cocktail geeks are obsessed with the finer points of barware, and I can think of no item that is more talked about or controversial than the shaker. Most bartenders swear by a Boston shaker, essentially two tins (or, gasp, a tin and a pint glass) that fit together creating an open space for the ingredients and ice to build lots of momentum between smashes at either end. Alternatively, a Cobbler shaker is a three-piece style found on most home bars, and consists of a base tin, a sloped center piece containing a perforated strainer, and a small, sometimes-shot-sized cap.
Not all cocktails need to be shaken (I’m looking at you, James Bond) but cocktail canon dictates that drinks containing fruit juice, especially citrus juice, must be shaken. Shaking cocktails emulsified their ingredients for a rich, slightly creamy mouthfeel, extra-cold serving temperature, and perfect dilution. When the ingredients and ice knock back and forth against the metal tin, small pieces of ice break off and chill the drink as they melt, diluting strong liquor and sharp citrus juice into something beautifully delicious.
Oftentimes, cocktail recipe directions will say to shake “until the outside of the shaker is frosty.” However, this isn’t really a good indicator of when a drink is ready because the metal walls of cocktail shakers vary in thickness and insulation.
If you’d asked me last week or last year about my favorite cocktail shaker, it was hands down the Italian pewter shaker from Match. First introduced to me by Food & Wine’s Executive Wine Editor Ray Isle when I oversaw testing for the magazine, and at the stunning price of $468, I can promise it looks incredible on a bar and mixes a very impressive drink. And it is out of reach for nearly everyone I know.
Yeti’s $60 cocktail shaker isn’t cheap, so I figured there was only one way to see if it was worth the price: a proper cocktail duel with the Match pewter shaker.
The cocktail: Tommy’s Margarita (2 parts tequila: 1 part lime juice: 1 part agave syrup)
The ice: Cubes from my refrigerator’s ice maker
The rubric: Shake for 30 seconds, strain, measure for volume as an indicator of dilution and temperature. Finally, taste (somebody’s gotta do it).
Dilution: Tied. The drinks poured out at identical volumes, with fewer small micro chips of ice on the surface of the Maker, indicating the ice stayed in bigger pieces and/or didn’t make it through the built-in strainer. There were more visible ice chips, and also more creamy, foamy swirl on the Yeti-shaken drink.
Temperature: Yeti. I used my trusty kitchen thermometer to temp each drink at the bottom of the glass, away from any ice chips floating on the top. It clocked the Maker margarita at 37°F degrees, which is how cold I keep my fridge, AKA “beer temp.” The Yeti got the marg down to 35°F and was noticeably colder on first sip.
Flavor: Yeti. While the drink ingredients, number of ice cubes, duration of shake, and glassware were identical, the colder temperature and creamier texture of the Yeti-shaken drink made the drink taste more refreshing and ultimately more delicious.
The takeaway: Yeti’s cocktail shaker is uniquely good at shaking up incredibly cold drinks thanks to the rock-hard metal that obliterates shaken ice cubes and insulated walls that keep the drink near freezing temps. If you already own a Rambler tumbler, the $25 shaker lid is a nice upgrade and the set would make a great gift, though it might look a little sporty on a beautifully curated home bar. But if you’re like us, you’d rather take cocktail hour outside anyway.