Making the perfect drink is a very delicate process. There’s little room for error, so, when it comes to cocktails, you have to get good at the dance of mixing and straining it. You don’t have to be bartender-level, but you want to be good enough to impress your friends and family.
If straining is the bit that stops you from trying, don’t fear any longer. For a guide on how to use a cocktail strainer the right way, read these tips for handling a Julep and Hawthorne strainer.
Let’s start simple. A Julep strainer, named after the mint julep drink, looks like a wide spoon with tiny holes. It’s inexpensive, ideal for straining mixing glasses, and best for beginners due to its pared-down structure. Though we recommend picking up both, the Julep strainer should be your first stop.
To use it, mix your drink and then place the spoon upside down over the ice in your glass. In other words, make sure the convex side is facing up so that the spoon catches the ice and other solids that pass through. When you go to pour, do so with your dominant hand, placing it near the glass’s rim for the most consistent straining. Go slow to avoid a mess—given a Julep strainer’s small holes—and you’re set.
Between the two, a Hawthorne strainer definitely looks more complex even though it also isn’t expensive. It looks like a lid with three metal lips that secure it to the top of a mixing tin (the vessel it pairs best with). The part that strains is this odd, almost fully circular ring of coils that sits along the edges.
To use a Hawthorne strainer, fit it over a mixing tin, so the coils are face-down inside it. Secure it on top with your thumb or pointer and middle fingers. To ensure no ice escapes, push the strainer forward to eliminate any gaps. Overall, the Hawthorne affords you a much faster strain; however, the coils are much easier to damage than the Julep strainer.
To use a cocktail strainer the right way, make sure your end product doesn’t have too many ice particles that slip through. If you do notice them, don’t hesitate to do a double strain to prevent too much dilution. Also, even before the straining happens, boil your ice before you freeze it and use special silicone molds to shape it.
If you’re looking for a strainer to get started or any other bar accessories and décor, Quinn’s Mercantile has a wide selection for you to explore both online and in-person.