The Role of the Cocktail Strainer
Small but essential: the cocktail strainer. For bartenders, the use of a strainer is a simple no brainer. But why is it essential?
If you’re not straining your cocktails they’ll have all kinds of things floating in them. Not only will that make it difficult to drink (think mint leaves wrapped around your teeth), but it also doesn’t look as appealing. Straining is a key part of the cocktail making process and the cocktail drinking experience.
There are a few different types of cocktail strainer, but all of them help to retain the ice in the mixing tin or glass. Even though a drink may call for ice to serve, it’s more professional to strain the cocktail over fresh ice for drinking.
But cocktail strainers have other purposes and depending on the type of drink you’re making there are certain types of strainers that are more fit-for-purpose.
The most common strainer found behind a bar, but not the earliest straining tool. This strainer was named after it was patented back in the 1890s: the name has become the generic label for all strainers with a spring, no matter which brand produces them.
According to Tales of the Cocktail “the strainer took its name from neither its inventor—William Wright—nor a company. Rather, the mounted coil strainer takes its name from the erstwhile Boston bar, The Hawthorne Café. The connection, though slightly hidden, comes through Denny P. Sullivan, who both owned the Hawthorne and was the assignee of Wright's patent.”
The Hawthorne strainer is mainly used to strain shaken cocktails. The coiled spring traps large chunks of fruit, herbs, spices and ice. The more tightly wrapped the coil the better the strainer. The spring can be removed and replaced for easy cleaning.
Über Bar Tool’s BarRay™ and StrainRay™ have not only been designed with tight spring coils to catch all that unwanted residue, they are also ergonomically designed with a unique finger rest for controlling liquid flow, for the perfect pour every time.
The Julep is the original strainer. It takes its name from the Mint Julep cocktail, which was popular before there were drinking straws. The perforated Julep strainer was actually used to drink through, stopping the ice and mint leaves from entering the mouth.
Nowadays, it’s used in the straining of cocktails, not limited to the Mint Julep and is often used for stirred cocktails.
Über Bar Tool’s Juliep strainer has been designed with dual purpose in mind, doubling as a small ice scoop as well as the perfect strainer for your mixing glass.
In more recent years, a fine mesh strainer has been used by bartenders to strain their cocktails through. This ensures that the texture of the liquid entering the glass is smooth and silky, without any solids or ice shards that may have passed through the Hawthorne strainer.
Über Bar Tools has the ‘Snub-Nosed Strainer’ – perfectly sized for fine straining cocktails.
When to use which strainer?
Need to remember when to use which strainer? Well the Hawthorne is best for shaken cocktails, because it fits well over a Boston tin and the Julep is best for stirred cocktails, because it’s a great fit for the mixing glass.
And there we have it – it’s a simple and humble tool, but using a good cocktail strainer is essential – giving you quality cocktails and a perfect pour every time.
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