February 23, 2024

The Role of the Cocktail Strainer

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 in every bar station?

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.

Strainers play a critical role in delivering a memorable drinking experience. Here's how and why:

  1. Prevents excessive dilution and maintains the desired flavour.
  2. Ensures unwanted fruit pulps, herbs and other ingredients don't make it to the glass.
  3. Highlights the beautiful colours and texture of the drink.
  4. Removes aromatic ingredients like herbs and citrus peels to only keep the intended aromas.

Overtime, cocktail strainers have become multi-purpose tools for busy and complex bars, and depending on the type of drink you’re making, there are certain types of strainers that are more fit-for-purpose.

Hawthorne Strainer

Hawthorne Strainer Bar Tools | Überbartools™

This 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—Hawthorne—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 Café 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.

Überbartools' 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.

Julep Strainer

Julep Strainer Bar Tools | Überbartools™

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.

Überbartools' 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.

Snub Nose Fine Strainer

Snub Nose Fine Strainer Bar Tools | Überbartools™

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.

Überbartools' Snub Nose Strainer is perfectly sized for fine straining cocktails with delicate ingredients like egg whites or finely crushed ice. It can also be used along with a Hawthorne strainer for extra smooth and clear drinks.

When to use which strainer?

Well, the Hawthorne is best for shaken cocktails and fits well over mixing glasses and shakers. The Julep is best for stirred cocktails with large ice, and fits nicely in a mixing glass. The Snub Nose Fine Strainer is best for creating a silky smooth consistency and ideal for delicate cocktails.

The best strainer for your cocktail depends on the ingredients, desired texture, and your personal preference, so consider the type of cocktails you make most often and the size of your mixing glasses. For basic home bartending, a Hawthorne or Julep strainer will cover most needs.

And there we have it! It’s a simple and humble tool but using a good cocktail strainer is essential in serving quality cocktails.

Want quality tools to produce quality cocktails? Check out our full range of strainers.