Connecticut offers rich history of cocktail shakers

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — On tonight’s “Nyberg,” we looked at a little cocktail history in Connecticut.

At one time, Connecticut was arguably the largest producer of chromium-plated cocktail shakers in the country.

Chase Brass and Copper Company of Waterbury was known as a maker of brass and copper fixtures, but the company figured out a new way forward in the 1930’s, and that was to make stylish and shiny silver barware. Today, the items are highly collectible.

“What they were making in Waterbury at the time were plumbing fixtures,” explained Connecticut historian Elizabeth Fox. “Well, that’s not very fancy, but they were brass and they were copper and they could be chromed.”

Soon, the company began to expand into other items.

“So Chase jumped into that and started producing things for the buffet table, chaffing dishes as well as cocktail shakers and soon there after a number of companies started also doing the same thing, Manning and Bowman was a big one that was out of Meriden,” explained Fox.

“The one on the left was made in Middletown and the one on the right was made in Meriden and they often came as a set,” said Fox showing off some items. “Sometimes they had up to eight glasses.”

“The one on the far right and the one in the center are aluminum,” she said. “The one in the center was made by Thermos and Thermos was located until the 1990’s in Norwich, Conn. and it was perfect for them to make this sort of thing because they were already geared toward making the insulated thermoses.”

The last cocktail shaker Fox showed is in a private collection and today would cost about $2,000. If you want to know about these shakers, they are in museums all over the state, and you might visit the third floor of the Yale University art gallery where you will find an Art-Deco heaven.

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