I Tried Shaker & Spoon's Cocktail Kit for a Month: Here's Why It'll Be My Go-To Gift This Holiday Season

As a former bartender, I was not prepared for how much I loved Shaker & Spoon.

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Shaker & Spoon
Photo: Courtesy of Shaker & Spoon

As a former bartender (albeit, at a music venue with mainly standard mixed drinks), I've been itching to revisit cocktail making. My personal bar cart is limited to a few spirits with maybe one or two bitters and syrups. But that's not from a lack of interest—full-sized cocktail ingredients add up, both in price and in space. That's why I set out to review Shaker & Spoon. I wanted to see if the cocktail kit subscription was worth the hype from the overwhelmingly positive reviews, plus, some of the recipes looked too good to pass up.

Shaker & Spoon is a monthly cocktail kit subscription service that takes your mixology skills to the next level. That's not to say that you need to be an experienced bartender; both novices and connoisseurs alike will appreciate all this service has to offer. Each month, Shaker & Spoon ships you ingredients for three specialty cocktails with enough supplies for 12 servings total. And they aren't your standard mixed drinks either. A rotating lineup of renowned bartenders curate each recipe, using house-made syrups, unique bitters, and more. The final products are elegant cocktails that you'll hardly believe you made yourself.

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How I Tested the Service

Shaker & Spoon was kind enough to let me choose a box to test. I wanted to try something different from my usual homemade old fashioneds and whiskey sours, so bourbon and rye boxes were out of the running. And while I don't outright dislike any specific liquor, vodka has never been my go-to. So when I read the cocktail lineup for the Steeped in Vodka 2 box with floral and tea ingredients, I thought that this might be my chance to learn to love the clear, crisp spirit.

My box came with supplies to make four servings of three different cocktails (12 drinks in total), allowing me to space out my testing over one month. I often crafted the cocktails in batches of two with a friend (doubling the single-serving recipe cards), which made the process all the more enjoyable. That said, these drinks are easy to make (and enjoy) all on your own, too.

My Overall Rating for Shaker & Spoon: 9/10

Pros:

  • Supplies to make three different cocktails (four servings each for 12 total)
  • Only requires one 750-ml spirit
  • Curated by knowledgeable, renowned bartenders
  • Teaches you mixology and creative variations on classic cocktails
  • Offers subscriptions and one-off cocktail kits
  • Pairs each cocktail recipe with spirit brand recommendations
  • Portions out unique ingredients so you don't clutter your liquor cabinet
  • You can buy ingredients you love à la carte
  • Provides easy written instructions and video tutorials for each cocktail
  • You can swap boxes if the upcoming one isn't your taste

Cons:

  • Some drinks are an acquired taste
  • Doesn't include alcohol (though that may be a pro, depending on where you live)

Signing up for Shaker & Spoon: How it works

Signing up for Shaker & Spoon is simple—as it should be. You'll get started on its website by clicking the big orange "subscribe" button on the home page or in the top menu. From there, you'll select a subscription term (AKA how often it will charge you). You can opt to pay $50 each month, $135 every three months ($45 per box), $250 every six months ($42 per box), or $480 once a year ($40 per box).

After choosing your subscription term, you'll then proceed to your cart. There, you can add one-off kits for single cocktail recipes, full-sized bitters and syrups, and other à la carte ingredients to mix as you please. Then all that's left to do is check out and patiently wait for your first box to arrive.

Shaker & Spoon also ships to all U.S. states and territories, basically anywhere with a U.S. post office.

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Shaker & Spoon cocktails: Creative twists on classic drinks

I love a good theme, and so does Shaker & Spoon. There's a newly curated cocktail kit box every month, with each centered around a single spirit done three different ways. It's essentially hands-on learning for the curious cocktail drinker. But if the upcoming box isn't quite your taste, there's some wiggle room. You can swap it out for a past box in your account settings or reach out to customer service for alternatives.

It's also worth browsing the Our Boxes page before you sign up to get a sense of all that comes with a monthly subscription. You'll see a wide variety of themed kits there, such as All Eyes on Rye with rye whiskey, Fall for Mezcal with smokey tequila, and the Negroni 2 with variations on the classic gin and Campari cocktail. Each box's page is rich with information, including pictures and ingredient lists for each of the three cocktails; recommended liquors to complete your kit; mixology videos; and bios for the bartenders who curated each drink. That may sound like a lot to take in, but it absolutely enriches the shopping experience.

And if you become totally sold on one of the past boxes, fear not; many of them are still available to order. Those listed on the Our Boxes page with a "subscribe" button can start as your first shipment. And while some subscription services like to keep the contents of boxes a secret until delivery, Shaker & Spoon will highlight the name of your first box at check out.

The Shaker & Spoon cocktail kit I chose: Steeped in Vodka 2

As I mentioned earlier, vodka has never been my first choice for liquor. But Shaker & Spoon's ode to the spirit on its blog convinced me to give it a second chance: "Is vodka versatile to a fault with the personality of a sponge? We think not! It's a brilliant blank canvas, and when your ingredients are high quality and your technique's on point, your inspiration, and libations, will flow freely."

And the experienced bartenders who curated each drink took plenty of creative liberty with these three vodka cocktails, with notably floral and tea-based twists:

  • Citrus Paradisi: vodka, citrus green tea-grapefruit syrup, lime, rose water, aromatic tonic water
  • Forbidden Fruit: chamomile tea, vodka, egg white, lychee orgeat, rose lemonade, lemon oil, rose petal sugar
  • Dragon Tears: oolong tea-infused vodka, pepper cake syrup, chai bitters, lemon oil

Though Shaker & Spoon provided three different vodka recommendations via email to pair with the Steeped in Vodka 2 box, I must admit I went the easy route and stopped by my local grocer. Hey, Tito's was on sale for $17; I'd be foolish to pass that up.

Shaker & Spoon
Courtesy of Allaire Nuss

Shaker & Spoon packaging and delivery: Mostly sustainable

Shaker & Spoon starts shipping cocktail kits on the first Monday of each month and continues throughout that week. Orders are delivered within one to three days via USPS priority mail, so you should receive your order by the end of the first week of the month. Just make sure you sign up for a subscription before the end of the month to receive the following month's box (for instance, if you sign up in January, you'll get your first kit at the beginning of February). But if you can't wait to test out your mixology skills, you can order one of its past boxes to kick off your subscription—it'll ship right away!

However, Shaker & Spoon does not ship alcohol with your order. There are plenty of reasons for the exclusion, the main one being that liquor laws differ by state. In many cases, you'd have to sign for your package at the door, which complicates the delivery process, not to mention your subscription would be more expensive. Sending only the peripheral ingredients helps keep things simple and consistent for all subscribers, regardless of location.

I received my Shaker & Spoon box on a crisp fall day and couldn't wait to bring it inside. Thankfully, cocktail kits aren't as perishable as those found in meal kits, though I wasn't too worried with the gorgeous weather. All recipe components arrived in perfect condition, including the fresh limes. Ingredients like the chamomile and oolong tea bags were safe to store at room temperature, while the syrups only needed to be refrigerated after opening. This ease of storage makes Shaker & Spoon an excellent service for those that are often on the go or working outside the home—no frantically texting your roommates or neighbors to refrigerate your shipment!

Shaker & Spoon packaging is recyclable as far as I can tell, though it's never explicitly stated in the kit or on its website. The cocktail kits come in a standard cardboard box with crinkle-cut paper (both of which are recyclable), rather than styrofoam packing peanuts that aren't environmentally friendly. Plus, the various syrups and mixers come in glass bottles that you can recycle or reuse. There's even a blog post brainstorming uses for the mini bottles after you've enjoyed your kit, like making fancy spice containers or infusing olive oil. My roommate asked me if he could use my bottles to propagate leaves and grow new plants, and I was more than happy to hand them off.

Shaker & Spoon
Courtesy of Allaire Nuss

Crafting Shaker & Spoon cocktails: Guided every step of the way

Just as the name implies, there are many ways to craft Shaker & Spoon cocktails: shaken, stirred, and simply combining ingredients in a glass to enjoy. Each box features one cocktail recipe for each of these three methods, which makes it an informative, broad introduction to mixology for novices. I also appreciate how Shaker & Spoon varies the kind of glass each drink is served in, which isn't required but does elevate the experience. My cocktail kit called for coupe, rocks, and highball glasses, all of which I had around the house thanks to my weekend shopping sprees at antique malls (there's no better place to buy gorgeous glassware).

Though the occasionally lengthy ingredients lists may be intimidating for rookies, I promise crafting Shaker & Spoon recipes is incredibly easy. The whole process is outlined on charming recipe cards and in online video tutorials. I referenced both while mixing my drinks, and though I should be partial to written instructions as a writer, I found the visual demonstrations easier to follow.

I also enjoyed how Shaker & Spoon makes mixology an active process, whereas other cocktail kits follow a strict "just add liquor" mantra. Two out of my three recipes had at least three steps, with me slicing fruit, measuring ingredients, and shaking the drink like a proper bartender before straining it into a glass to enjoy.

The recipes came together in minutes, too, except for the Dragon Tears cocktail, which required 30 minutes to infuse the vodka with oolong tea. In the meantime, I read the glossary card with helpful explanations of different bar tools, types of glassware, mixing techniques, and bartender terminology. There are even poetic paragraphs above each recipe, revealing the bartender's inspiration in crafting that cocktail. It's clear Shaker & Spoon puts so much thought and care into guiding you through all things mixology, and it makes the cocktail kits that much better.

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Shaker & Spoon
Courtesy of Allaire Nuss

Shaker & Spoon flavor and quality: Complex but occasionally acquired

I enjoyed the Steeped in Vodka 2 box overall, adoring the first two drinks and tolerating the third. That's not to say the latter was bad or of poor quality, but let's just say it was an acquired taste, at least to my friends and me. Still, that wouldn't stop me from ordering another box; it just helped me learn what I don't care for in a cocktail. And that's valuable information for those looking to broaden their drinking horizons. Nevertheless, here's my honest review of each recipe:

Citrus Paradisi: I tested this one live on camera during a virtual happy hour with my fellow writers and editors, who saw my pleasant reaction in real time. This was a popular cocktail in the original Steeped in Vodka box that carried over into my Steeped in Vodka 2 shipment, so I was eager to see what all the hype was about. Short answer: This is a simple, refreshing beverage combining subtle citrus, tea, and rose for easy drinking. My editor warned me that rose water could easily overpower a cocktail, but two dashes were just right to get floral notes without clouding the fresh lime and green tea. And the pink-hued aromatic tonic was the perfect top-off for a gorgeous final product. I'm also a bit ashamed to say that I sipped the Citrus Green Tea-Grapefruit Syrup on its own after finishing my drink—it was that good.

Forbidden Fruit: This was the cocktail that sold me on ordering the Steeped in Vodka 2 box. Ingredients like chamomile tea, rose lemonade, and rose petal sugar stopped me in my tracks, and the lychee orgeat sealed the deal. I knew it would be the first drink I made from this kit, and it did not disappoint. Forbidden Fruit was the perfect balance of floral, fruity, and sweet, and I probably finished mine in less than two minutes. My roommate was hesitant when he saw me adding egg white to the mixing glass (per the recipe's instructions), but it makes for a delectably frothy cocktail once shaken. Needless to say, he had a change of heart after his first sip.

The only let down here was that the spray nozzle for the lemon oil, which came in a miniature bottle to spritz over the finished cocktail, didn't work. Since I didn't want to exclude the ingredient, I drizzled it on top, which was a mistake. We each got a rude sip of straight lemon oil, which overpowered the other flavors in the worst way. We honestly would have been better off omitting it. Other than that fluke, this drink was delicious.

Dragon Tears: My favorite drink to make at home is by far the timeless old fashioned, with bourbon, bitters, and a splash of syrup. So when I saw this vodka-take on the classic cocktail, I was excited, but the bar was also high. I'm sad to say this was my least favorite of the three drinks by a long shot. The oolong-infused vodka, Pepper Cake Syrup, and lemon oil did not complement one another well and instead were an intense medley that made me wince a little before swallowing. I'm not alone in my assessment either—none of the three friends I shared Dragon Tears with enjoyed it. I wouldn't say it was bad, just not palatable to my taste, or any of theirs, for that matter.

I did, however, appreciate the Chai'Walla bitters, especially the notes of cardamom and clove. It added a nice spice to the drink, though I wish the funky pepper cake flavor hadn't diluted it. Still, I was sure to save some for a bourbon cocktail on a later date, which the bitters will no doubt take to the next level.

Shaker & Spoon cocktail kit price: Reasonable for all you get

Priced from $40 to $50 depending on your subscription term, Shaker & Spoon is absolutely worth the cost, given that the supplies in each box make 12 drinks. And though that doesn't include the spirit, that's still a lot of ingredients for the price, especially when considering how unique so many of the mixers are. Sure, you could buy full-sized specialty bitters and niche syrups on their own, but you'll likely only use them a few times before condemning them to your liquor cabinet. Cocktail kits are a great alternative, allowing you to sample and experiment without breaking the bank or taking up space. And at only $50 max, Shaker & Spoon is a pretty sweet deal.

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Shaker & Spoon customer service: More than accommodating

Shaker & Spoon is dedicated to curating a quality cocktail subscription, and its customer service is proof. Representatives do an excellent job of responding to reviews, which are overwhelmingly positive, with thanks. But, of course, the key to any good customer service is answering questions. Help is available through a live chat on the website, an up-to-date FAQ with a search engine, and over email at help@shakerandspoon.com. Representatives are also active on the Shaker & Spoon blog, where they usually answer questions within a day and include relevant links to the FAQ page.

And customers appreciate the support, regularly praising it in glowing reviews, like Katrina who wrote, "It's a really great company with some of the best customer service I've ever experienced anywhere!" and Lisa who noted, "Customer service is great and fast at fixing any issues."

Beyond the support resources, I think it's pretty neat that they'll let you swap out boxes if you don't like the upcoming one. It's small accommodations like that help make Shaker & Spoon an all around great experience.

Shaker & Spoon reviews: Overwhelmingly positive

Customers are vocal about how much they enjoy their Shaker & Spoon subscriptions, with 89% of reviewers giving it a five-star rating on Cratejoy. The praise comes from all angles, highlighting the easy recipes, delicious drinks, and how it makes a great gift. Here are just a few of the glowing reviews:

Aaron said, "I adore my Shaker & Spoon subscription. I get to host friends for a fun, sassy, slightly tipsy cocktail party while making tasty, adventurous drinks with interesting, off-beat ingredients. It's like having my own speakeasy where I'm the bartender."

Another customer, Kristen, wrote, "Living in a very expensive city, Shaker & Spoon gives me the chance to have the high-quality, fancy cocktails that I love but at a fraction of the price. The instructions are much easier than in any of the other bar recipe books that I have, and the illustrations and glossary make new techniques easy. Also...those syrups!"

And Poff wrote, "Oftentimes, the hardest part about making cool cocktails is acquiring the ingredients (which you might never even use again). This box included just the right amount of ingredients, and you just have to add alcohol."

Shaker & Spoon: My take

To put it simply, I loved Shaker & Spoon. Every stage of the process was exciting, from browsing my options online to taking the first sip. And much of that enjoyment came from the abundance of context that came with each cocktail. I loved reading about the inspiration behind each drink on the recipe cards while also learning about just how versatile vodka can be.

Shaker & Spoon goes beyond just providing great-tasting cocktail recipes—it makes mixology an accessible learning experience. My friend Haley had zero mixing experience before we made the Forbidden Fruit cocktail, but the simple instructions and helpful glossary made her feel confident in the final product. Plus, the pure glee on her face when she used a shaker for the first time was priceless. In fact, she liked it so much that she's gifting single cocktail kits for her parents, brother, a secret Santa, and herself. I stocked up on kits for my own family and have recommended Shaker & Spoon left and right. I often try to gift an experience over items, and mixing your own craft cocktails at home is honestly a blast.

I also appreciate how Shaker & Spoon introduces subscribers to various techniques, liquors, and just about anything else relating to cocktails. I had no idea what an orgeat was before receiving my Steeped in Vodka 2 box, but now I crave the sweet almond syrup and know it pairs well with tropical flavors. I can only imagine what I'll learn in all the boxes to come.

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Who is This Service Good For?

Shaker & Spoon is honestly one size fits all. The recipe cards are for single servings, making mixing an activity that you can easily enjoy alone. But it's even better when shared with friends or a partner. My roommate was more than happy to join in the fun and share a drink with me after a long day at work. And when I had college friends visit for a weekend, it was great to have a cocktail kit on hand to help entertain and get a good buzz going before a much-needed night out. Even families can enjoy mixing these cocktails together (with all members of age, of course). People of all experience levels will also get something out of these recipes, whether you're a novice looking to learn or a connoisseur wanting to try something new. Basically, if you like to drink, you'll like Shaker & Spoon.

Who Isn't It Good For?

Shaker & Spoon may not be for you if you prefer beer or wine over liquor. Still, these are not your average mixed drinks, and you may be pleasantly surprised by some of the inventive craft cocktail recipes. I wouldn't have called myself a vodka drinker before Shaker & Spoon, but now that I've tried it with Citrus Green Tea Grapefruit Syrup and infused it with oolong-tea, I can confidently say I'd order a vodka cocktail at a nice lounge or restaurant. The same change of heart may happen for you. And though Shaker & Spoon does an excellent job guiding newbies through mixology, it requires bar equipment that isn't included in your box. We're talking cocktail shakers, jiggers, mixing spoons, muddlers, and so on. You can manage without some supplies (I just used a regular spoon), but I imagine it's not easy to shake a drink without a proper, well, shaker. So if you don't have the tools on hand, I'd recommend either investing in some or going with a simpler cocktail kit subscription.

Factors What it means Numerical ranking (1-10)
Taste Cocktails feature delicious flavors that go down easily. 8
Ease of Preparation The service provides easy-to-follow instructions for crafting cocktails. 9
Quality of Ingredients Ingredients are good in quality and condition. 10
Customization There's flexibility in cocktail kits. 9
Cocktail Variety The service highlights a wide range of cocktails and mixology practices. 10
Availability The service is widely available for consumers in various locations. 9
Portion Size The drink volume is acceptable, given the type of cocktail. 9
Price The price is fair based on the quality of the service. 9
Subscription The subscription plans are fair with customizable options. You can easily cancel the service. 9
Shipping Shipments arrive on time and in good condition. 9
Customer Service Representatives are readily available and respond to inquiries promptly with helpful solutions. 9
Social Impact Products are sourced ethically. Packaging is recyclable or sustainable. 8
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