What do you use a cocktail strainer for?
After you’ve stirred up your Negroni or shaken your Daiquiri, the next step is separating your cocktail from all that ice, fruit, herbs, and other solids. To do that, you’re going to need a cocktail strainer of some sort that allows you to pour the cocktail into a glass while withholding the ice and other unnecessary stuff that you don't want in your drink.
Strainers come in many shapes, sizes and varieties so it's always helpful to know how to use them correctly and in the right situation. There are 3 primary types of strainers Hawthorne, Julep and Fine mesh strainer so let's take a closer look at each of them.
Hawthorne Strainer is the most popular type of cocktail strainer with a little spring around the edge which fits perfectly into a shaking tin and many mixing glasses and helps to strain out little pieces of ice and other solids.
Hawthorne strainer is also adjustable you can slide on the top of your shaking tin to leave more or less gap when pouring your cocktail in the glass.
Fine Mesh Strainer
Unfortunately, Hawthorne strainer is not able to capture everything so for the best results use your Hawthorne strainer along with a Fine mesh strainer especially for the cocktail without tiny pieces of ice.
The third type of strainer is Julep strainer oval shaped with large holes mainly intended to strain stirred drinks. Perfectly fits in the mixing glass where is it held with a help of pressure of bartender's finger.
From the practical point of view, there is no need to purchase this type of strainer because it can be easily replaced by Hawthorne and a Fine mesh strainer. But give it go in case you want to have a complete cocktail set.
How to use cocktail strainers effectively
Before we go throw the actual straining process, we need to explain a few terms which will help you to use strainers more efficiently and in the right situation. But if it will sound a little too geeky, you don't necessarily need all of this stuff. You can make great cocktails anyway, just skip the next few paragraphs.
Basic style of Hawthorne strainer vs. Modern Hawthorne strainers
Apart from being made from durable stainless steel material, the main features that all the Modern strainers share is a little gap at the front rim and a tight coil.
It's beneficial for a smoother straining process and essentially for better drinks.
Below you can find the examples of that.
The gate refers to the gap between the edge of a Hawthorne strainer and the shaking tin. Because of the Hawthorne's flexible spring, it can be pushed forward so the edges meet and the gap is closed off or pulled back so the gap is widened.
Closed gate - the coil is tightened, so the cocktail flows out more slowly and is finely strained.
Opened gate - the cocktail is less strained out but you have a steady flow of a liquid.
When to use opened and closed gate?
1. LEAVE THE GATE OPENED AND USE THE FINE STRAINER FOR CRISP AND CLEAN DRINKS
In the most cases, I leave the gate open and use the fine strainer if necessary because it's faster and fine mesh strainer is providing an extra step to capture the tiny pieces of ice for smooth cocktails.
''A good rule of thumb is to double strain all cocktails that are shaken and served straight up.'' (There are a few exceptions that are mentioned below)
2. LEAVE THE GATE CLOSED IF THE SPECIAL OCCASIONS ARISES
This technique is especially useful with modern Hawthorne strainers because when the gate is closed, the stream flowing out remains narrow and doesn’t spread across the front of the strainer as with cheaply made Hawthorne strainers, which can cause spillage.
Additionally, modern cocktail strainers are often designed with a tight spring to strain more thoroughly, which can eliminate the need for a fine strainer in the following situations:
EGG WHITE COCKTAILS
Egg white cocktails are all about the frothy texture, which is diminished when they're run through a fine strainer. Simply closing the gate preserves the froth, which in turn conveniently envelops any ice chips, so there’s no sacrifice in texture.
THICKER LIQUID ( MUDDLED BERRIES)
Sometimes when the cocktail contains a thicker liquid such as muddled berries then you are better off using the close gate (it can be difficult to pass it through the fine mesh strainer).
Our cocktail strainer will strain any bigger pieces of fruit, leaving you with a pleasant consistency of your cocktail.
LARGE MODERN MIXING GLASSES
When you're using a large modern mixing glasses to stir two or more cocktails, it can be difficult to strain without the cocktail dripping down the sides because they are filled to the brim.
Using our cocktail strainer which fits perfectly onto the mixing glass, closing the gate solves this problem. The stream doesn't drip and is narrowed down, giving you a better control of the flow of a liquid.
HOW TO DO IT STEP BY STEP (STRAINING A COCKTAIL)
Straining a cocktail with Hawthorne
- Place the Hawthorne strainer inside of the mixing tin using the strainer's tabs to keep it from falling into the tin and with the coil facing down.
- Hold the strainer in place with your forefinger and slowly tip the tin over the serving glass.
- When the glass is filled, quickly return the tin to an upright position to avoid any spills on the bar.
Double straining with both cocktail strainers
Some cocktails call for an extra step, a special bit of finesse to make them smooth and visually satisfying.
When you're straining a cocktail that contains fruit or herbs, it's easy to let little bits of fruit pulp or muddled leaves slip through a Hawthorne strainer and provide an unpleasant texture.
Using a fine mesh strainer allows you to filter out those bits of solids (along with tiny shards of ice) and present a crisp and perfectly clear cocktail.
- Place your cocktail strainer on the cocktail shaker and hold a fine mesh strainer by its handle over your glass.
- Pour through both strainers into the glass, anything that made it through the first strainer will be caught in the mesh.
Here's my recommendation for different types of Bar tools and why you should give them a try.