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What Is A Cocktail Strainer And How To Use It

October 18, 2019 by James Cairns

What Is A Cocktail Strainer?

As the name might suggest, the cocktail strainer is an essential tool in professional bartending. Like a seive, it only allows liquid to pass leaving any unwanted fruit pulp and ice behind.

They come in a huge variety of designs, but primarily there are 3 types of strainer worth having if your looking to shake up a storm behind the bar.

The Hawthorn Strainer

If you think back to any time you’ve been served a cocktail at a bar, you’ll probably have seen one of these. Easily recogniseable this strainer features a circular metal plate with holes to allow liquid to pass, two ‘ears’ used to keep it in place over a shaker tin or glass while pouring and a long spring round its base to hold back any fruit pulp and ice.

Its an industry standard and a go-to weapon of choice for shaken drinks.

We recommend the classic variation as an ideal starting point for new bartenders as its easy to use for all experience levels, however more advanced variations of this strainer won’t include the ‘ears’ told hold it in place so can be a bit trickier to use.

The Fine Strainer

Like a tea strainer or miniture seive you’ll need one of these when your shaking up berries or anything thats going to break down into smaller pieces that your cocktail strainer might miss. Its an essential tool when serving martini’s, or any drink you want shaken and served ‘neat’ (without ice).

You might hear the term ‘double strain’ come into play with alot of classic cocktails, this implys the use of the fine strainer alongside the classic strainer to ensure no fruit pulp or broken ice makes its way into your drink. It’s easy enough to do with practice, holding the tin and strainer in one hand while pouring through the fine strainer in your other, hence the term ‘Double strained’.

Julep Strainer

The Julep strainer has a unique history, taking it’s name from the Mint Julep and dating back to when it wasn’t so commen to find straws behind the bar. Its shape and design is perfectly suited to being placed on top of recipes that use alot of crushed ice, enabling the drinker to enjoy every drop without spilling ice.

This strainer can be used with tins and mixing glasses, when positioned at the right angle. However Its practicality behind the bar has somewhat diminished over the years, and as such it is far from a neccesity in your kit. But if your looking to add that vintage touch of class to a drink it can make for a great practical garnish.

How to Strain a Cocktail?

Once you’ve shaken up your cocktail, you will usually want to strain it. This is easy with the right tools as mentioned above. Below is a step by step process to ensure you get the most out of your strainer:

1) Place the strainer facing spring down on to your shaker tin or mixing glass.

2) With your dominant hand go to pick up the shaker tin or glass, leaving your index finger free to control the strainer on top. Normally you will find there is a small raised piece of the strainer your index finger can rest behind.

3) Using your other hand, pick up the the fine strainer and hold it slightly elevated above the glass your serving the cocktail in.

4) Pour at a gentle and controlled rate through the fine strainer, you might find you need to gentley shake the last part out of the tin, as alot of ingredients that cause foam tend to come out last.

Want  to put your new skill to the test? check out our cocktail recipe section.

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