How to strain a cocktail

The strainer is a necessary, cheap and very useful bar tool. If you have mastered shaking a cocktail, it's time to learn how to strain it in to a nice cocktail glass. Most cocktails, despite all ingredients being fresh, needs straining to sort out ice clumps, muddled fruit or leafs. This makes the finished cocktail look and taste cleaner and crisper. Little technique is required and with a few tips on the different techniques, you will know how to strain your next cocktail in minutes. Your guests will be impressed with their clean, well-crafted drinks, and you will add a very useful skill to your bartending repertoire, which is always nice.


Strainers come in many shapes, sizes and varieties. The most common strainers are the Hawthorne strainer and the Julep strainer. The Hawthrone strainer consist of a flat disc, called the rim, which is attached a coiled spring. It is this spring that traps the large chunks or slivers of ice and fruit pieces. It is commonly used with the Boston Shaker, as opposed to shakers with built-in strainers. The Julep strainer consists of a perforated bowl shaped cup with an attached handle. It was originally used as a means to keep crushed ice away from sensitive teeth while drinking mint juleps.


How to use the Hawthrone strainer:
  1. Take of the cap of your Boston Cocktail Shaker and place the Hawthorne strainer inside of the mixing tin with the coil facing down, using the strainer's tabs to keep it from falling into the tin. girl showing how to put cocktail strainer on a boston cocktail shaker
  2. Hold the strainer in place with your index finger or first two fingers.
    girl showing how hold acocktail strainer on a boston cocktail shaker
    Using your fingers, slide the strainer forward against the tin, so that no gap remains between the front rim of the strainer and the lip of the tin. This helps keeping tiny shards of ice from getting into the drink.
  3. Slowly tip the tin over the serving cocktail glass so it pours.
    girl showing how to pour a drink with a cocktail strainer
    When the cocktail glass is nearly filled, snap your wrist once towards the glass and again away from it, to remove the last few drops of cocktail from the shaker tin. Return the tin to an upright position to avoid any spills. Great job!


How to use the julep strainer.
  1. Place the julep inside the mixing glass with the bowl of the spoon facing out to "cup" the ice, like a bowl placed upside down.
  2. Grab the glass near its rim, using your dominant hand. Hold the strainer on the joint between the handle and bowl using your index finger while you slowly tip the mixing glass over the serving glass.
  3. When the glass is filled, quickly return the tin to an upright position.


Double or Fine Straining:

When straining a cocktail that contains of torn herbs, fruit or mint leaves or other small solid ingredients, it's difficult to keep the little bits of fruit pulp or muddled leaves from slipping through the strainer and mudding up your cocktail and provide an unpleasant texture. To solve this problem, try double straining. You simply run the drink through two strainers, one of those mentioned above (Hawthorne or Julep) and a fine mesh strainer.

  1. Simply, place your regular strainer in or on the cocktail shaker, as mentioned above, and hold a fine mesh strainer with your non-dominant hand over your cocktail glass and pour. girl fine straining and double straining a cocktail into martini glass
Anything that made it through the first strainer will be caught in the mesh. If the strainer fits into the glass, you can also rest it on the glass's rim. If your metal strainer is larger than the diameter of the glass, be sure to pour slowly so your liquid doesn't splash over the rim. You have now filtered out those bits of flora (along with tiny shards of ice) and can present a crisp and perfectly clear cocktail. Beautiful enjoy your cocktail.