Tips and Tricks

How To Use A Cocktail Strainer

What Is A Cocktail Strainer?

The cocktail strainer is an essential tool in professional bartending. Like a sieve, it only allows liquid to pass leaving any unwanted fruit pulp and ice behind.

They come in a huge variety of designs, but don’t worry. We’ve taken the strain out of the process (terrible pun very much intended) by focusing on the three types of strainers worth having if you’re looking to shake up a storm behind the bar.


Must Have Cocktail Strainers: The Hawthorn Strainer

A cocktail bartender in a white shirt pours an Espresso Martini through a Hawthorn Strainer - How to Use a Cocktail Shaker

If you think back to any time you’ve been served a cocktail at a bar, you’ll probably have seen one of these.

Easily recognisable this strainer features a circular metal plate with holes to allow liquid to pass, two ‘ears’ used to keep it in place over a shaker tin or glass while pouring and a long spring round its base to hold back any fruit pulp and ice.

It’s an industry standard and a go-to weapon of choice for shaken drinks.

We recommend the classic variation as an ideal starting point for new bartenders as it’s easy to use for all experience levels, however more advanced variations of this strainer won’t include the ‘ears’ told hold it in place so can be a bit trickier to use.

Use it to make: essential cocktails such as the Espresso Martini and Margarita


Must Have Cocktail Strainers: The Fine Strainer

A cocktail bartender in a white shirt pours an Espresso Martini through the sieve like Fine Strainer Strainer - How to Use a Cocktail Shaker

Like a tea strainer or miniature sieve, you’ll need one of these when you’re shaking up berries or anything that’s going to break down into smaller pieces that your cocktail strainer might miss.

It’s an essential tool when serving martinis, or any drink you want shaken and served ‘neat’ (without ice).

You might hear the term ‘double strain’ come into play with a lot of classic cocktails, this implies the use of the fine strainer alongside the classic strainer to ensure no fruit pulp or broken ice makes its way into your drink.

It’s easy enough to do with practice, holding the tin and strainer in one hand while pouring through the fine strainer in your other, hence the term ‘double strained’.

Use it to make: the classic martini cocktail


Must Have Cocktail Strainers: The Julep Strainer

How to use a cocktail strainer - a julep strainer on a black background

The Julep strainer has a unique history, taking its name from the Mint Julep and dating back to when it wasn’t so common to find straws behind the bar.

Its shape and design is perfectly suited to being placed on top of recipes that use a lot of crushed ice, enabling the drinker to enjoy every drop without spilling ice.

This strainer can be used with tins and mixing glasses, when positioned at the right angle.

However, its practicality behind the bar has somewhat diminished over the years, and as such it is far from a necessity in your kit. But if you’re looking to add that vintage touch of class to a drink it can make for a great practical garnish.


How to strain a cocktail using a Cocktail Strainer

How to Strain a Cocktail

Once you’ve shaken up your cocktail, you will usually want to strain it. This is easy with the right tools as mentioned above. Below is a step-by- step process to ensure you get the most out of your strainer:

1) Place the strainer facing spring down on to your shaker tin or mixing glass.

2) With your dominant hand go to pick up the shaker tin or glass, leaving your index finger free to control the strainer on top.

Normally you will find there is a small, raised piece of the strainer your index finger can rest behind.

3) Using your other hand, pick up the fine strainer and hold it slightly elevated above the glass you’re serving the cocktail in.

4) Pour at a gentle and controlled rate through the fine strainer, you might find you need to gently shake the last part out of the tin, as a lot of ingredients that cause foam tend to come out last.


Want to put your new skill to the test? Check out our recipes on the Clubhouse blog.