Buying guide for cocktail strainers

27th Sep 2017

Bar or cocktail strainers are an integral part of a properly made cocktail. Cocktails should not only taste delicious and look beautiful, but they also need to be strained to perfection. A key function of every bar strainer is separating out the solid components needed for mixing the drink, from the final liquid product. Whether it is ice, small bits of pulp, fruit seeds, or tiny pieces of muddled herbs, a bar strainer will help get the job done. Be it a new recipe that you are trying for the first time or a favorite classic that you are creating free style, a cocktail strainer is an important tool to ensure that the result is exactly as intended.

But which one?

Cocktail strainers usually consist of the following types:


Perhaps the most recognizable, the Hawthorne strainer features a flat, perforated piece of metal which is lined with a flexible spring that catches ice and other solids. It is named for a once-popular brand name of bar strainer and it is probably the most popular cocktail strainer both in home and professional bar tending.

The Hawthorne strainer may be used with mixing tins and it can adapt to several sizes of mixing glasses. However, it is a bit difficult to clean and the spring is quite prone to damage if used improperly.


In the mid-1800s, the Julep strainer was created to prevent ice from falling towards one's mouth or face during the consumption of a Mint Julep. A precursor to today's drinking straw, the Julep strainer's main function is separate ice from liquid ingredients.

The Julep strainer has bowl shape with small perforated holes and a handle. It can easily be held over a mixing glass, is very durable, and is easy to clean. The Julep strainer is usually slower than the Hawthorne and requires handling finesse for best results.


A fine mesh strainer will help you achieve seriously smooth drinks. It will effectively separate fine shards of ice, seeds, pulp, and other solids that will make their way through the Hawthorne and Julep strainers. Fine mesh strainers are usually held under the another strainer to expedite cocktail creation.

For a full service bar having all three strainers on hand is ideal. Don't forget to consider the overall design theme of your bar, before adding to your barware. For color accents, gold-plate, copper-plate, and black-plate strainers are great options.