How And When To Use A Hawthorne Strainer For Your Cocktails

cocktail with straining and mixing tools
cocktail with straining and mixing tools - Maximfesenko/Getty Images

The two ways to assemble a cocktail are shaken and stirred, and if you're going to be shaking a cocktail, then you're going to need a strainer. The two types of strainers in the bartender's tool belt are the Hawthorne and julep strainers, and today, we're deep-diving into the former to help folks ensure they're reaching for the right tool for the job. Hawthorne strainers are tailor-made for fine-straining ice chunks out of shaken drinks, particularly drinks served up (without ice). Margaritas, Cosmopolitans, Sours, Smashes, Sidecars, and (sometimes) Martinis couldn't hope to exist without it.

Per the lore, the Hawthorne strainer was invented as an improvement of the existing julep strainer, created by the eponymous Boston bartender Nathaniel Hawthorne in the late 1800s. Today, the Hawthorne strainer is the apparatus you're most likely to spot in any commercial bar setting, from dives to high-end amaro joints. It's shaped like a paddle with a 1 ½-inch handle. It has small holes and is affixed with a half-circle coiled wire spring. The higher the density of this coil, the more durable your strainer is. One of the tiniest yet most important features on the Hawthorne strainer are two or more small prongs or "teeth" designed to hold the strainer firmly in place across the rim of a shaker as the bartender whips away. That coiled spring grabs the chunks of ice, muddled fruits, and other solid debris in the shaker, preventing them from passing into the finished beverage.

Read more: 23 Cocktails To Try If You Like Drinking Gin

Sturdy, Comfortable To Hold, And Easy To Use

pouring cocktail with Hawthorne strainer
pouring cocktail with Hawthorne strainer - Jodi Jacobson/Getty Images

To use a Hawthorne strainer, mix your cocktail in the shaker, then remove the shaker's lid and position the strainer over the mouth of the mixing tin, with the coil facing downward. The tabs and coil will guide the paddle securely into place. Then, place your hand around the mixing tin, and press down firmly on the strainer with your index finger, keeping it locked in as you pour the finished drink into the prepared (perhaps chilled) cocktail glass. Pour slowly to give the strainer enough time to do its job, catching all the leftover solid ingredients and avoiding forcing them through the coils with too much water pressure. Then, just set the strainer and mixing tin aside for your barback to wash (or, if you're making a cocktail at home, set 'em aside to wash yourself after happy hour).

As a general rule, you'll want to use the Hawthorne strainer any time you're assembling a drink in a metal cocktail shaker (aka most shaken drinks). If you're using a mixing glass, a julep strainer will likely do the job just fine. Keep in mind that for some drinks, double-straining or straining through an additional fine mesh sieve might be a necessary part of the assemblage to get out all those tiny ice flecks or fruit fragments. Note that any drink with a carbonated ingredient never belongs in a shaker.

Read the original article on Tasting Table