The cocktail strainer is a bar tool that is used to filter out solid materials from the liquid when mixing a drink. Such solid materials include ice, fruit seeds, pulps, herbs, etc. After stirring and shaking the drink, you use the strainer to separate the solids in the mix, so that what comes out is a smooth drink.
There are three major types of strainers:
- The hawthorn strainer,
- The julep strainer, and
- The fine strainer
The hawthorn strainer is designed to have a flat metal piece with holes perforated on it, a spring around the outside for trapping the ice and other solids, and in most cases, “ears” on the sides to keep the strainer in place. With the spring, the hawthorn strainer can adapt to different sizes of mixing tins.
The julep strainer is designed with a bowl-shaped metal head, perforated with holes to allow the drink flow through. It also has a long handle. The strainer is placed over a glass, and the bartender applies pressure with their finger to keep it down while the drink filters through.
The julep strainer is considered a precursor to straws, as before the advent of straws, cocktails were served with it on top, being a barrier between the ice and the drinker.
To make a very smooth drink, you would have to use the fine strainer and a hawthorn or julep strainer. It acts as the second “checkpoint” to hold back any solid substance that escapes the first strainer, and this process is called “double straining”.
It consists of a cone-shaped fine wire mesh around its head and a metal handle for holding it over the glass while the drink is poured from the shaker.