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Strainers, A Quick Guide

Mixology has become very popular as a hobby, and there are many tools that someone with a home bar needs to have in order to make the best drinks possible. One of the tools that are invaluable for making cocktails is a strainer, which will make drinks smooth and pulp-free.

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When the strainer was first developed, it was given to patrons rather than used by the bartender so the customers could enjoy drinks with ice. Nowadays, strainers are used by professional bartenders as a way of creating beautiful and tasty cocktails.
When you are shopping for your home bar and want the best tools to make an array of delicious cocktails, you definitely need to add a few strainers to your equipment.


Gold Hawthorne strainer, copyright A Bar Above

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What are Bar Strainers?

A strainer is a stainless steel tool that can either resemble a bottle opener, a kitchen strainer, or a flat spoon with holes. The top of the strainer fits over a mixing glass or a shaker and only allows liquid to pass through it so that any undesirable bits of pulp, ice, or seeds don’t end up in the glass with the cocktail.
Bar strainers filter out pulp and chunks of fruit, and they also run liquid through crushed ice when you are making drinks. Some mixologists don’t use strainers, but any seasoned bartender will tell you that you can only make the best drinks with a strainer.

What Types of Strainers are There?

Hawthorne Strainer

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Hawthorne Strainers

A Hawthorne strainer is one of the most popular types of strainers and can be used with a mixing glass, pint glass, or cocktail shaker. The Hawthorne bar strainer comes with a stainless steel handle leading to a flat round plate with holes.
There are coils that cover the strainer plate in a semi-circle, allowing the user to fit it over a glass or shaker without locking it so it can be removed easily. The most common of these Hawthorne bar strainers come with two tabs along the edges and several holes.
When you want to double-strain, use the tab at the top to lock the strainer in place. Double-straining is when the liquid goes through the regular strainer and a fine-mesh strainer to make the liquid as clean as possible. After it is locked, pour the strained cocktail into a glass.
Julep Strainer

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Julep Strainers

These types of bar strainers are the original strainers that were used in bars and were designed to help drinkers enjoy their drinks that contain ice. Bartenders would also use them to strain out large chunks of fruit, seeds, herbs, and ice from the cocktails they were pouring.
The strainer would be placed on the glass or shaker upside down, and while ‘cupping’ the strainer, the bartender would hold it in place and pour the cocktail into the glass. These strainers were the first generation that was replaced in popularity by the Hawthorne strainer and is generally used with a mixing glass.
Fine Strainer

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Fine Mesh Cocktail Strainer

A fine mesh cocktail strainer is used by mixologists to create a smooth drink without any chunks, pieces of ice, pulp, or other materials that may make it past the Hawthorne and julep strainers. The fine strainer is usually held underneath the first strainer if the mixologist decides the drink needs to be double-strained.
You can get the ultra fine mesh strainer if you are making a cocktail with fruit juice that you really want to remove any traces of pulp. Any cocktail fine strainer should do the trick for most drinks. A well-stocked home bar will have at least one strainer if not all of them available.

Copper Cocktail Strainer

This type of strainer is made from copper and is used primarily for one drink, the Moscow Mule.

Plastic Cocktail Strainer

If you are a mixologist on a budget, then the plastic cocktail strainer is less expensive and dishwasher-safe.

Shakers with Built-In Strainers

There are some cocktail shakers, such as the cobbler, that come with strainers built right into them so you don’t need to use any additional tools. These work well for some drinks, but if you need to really filter out some small pieces in your drinks, then you can use the shaker in tandem with a fine mesh strainer.
Fine mesh strainer

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Whether you are a professional bartender or a hobbyist with a home bar, a strainer is a tool that is a definite must-have when you are outfitting your home with the best tools to make an impressive cocktail for your guests.
Whether you are using a Hawthorne strainer with coils that can be fitted to a shaker, a julep strainer for filtering out ice and large chunks from a mixing glass, or a fine strainer to make your cocktails silky-smooth, you can be sure your drinks will be impressive and delicious.

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