A close up of a cocktail being strained through a fine mesh strainer.

Cocktail Strainers Explained | Understanding The Different Types Of Cocktail Strainers

Whether you’re making cocktails at home or mixing drinks in a hip cocktail bar, you’ll likely need a strainer to make many of those drinks. Cocktail strainers come in various shapes and sizes, each used for different situations. So, what are the different types of cocktail strainers?

The four main types of cocktail strainer are the Hawthorne Strainer, the Julep Strainer, the Fine Mesh Strainer, and the Built-in Strainer found in some shakers. While each of these strainers helps filter out solids, ensuring they don’t make it into the final drink, they have distinct applications and are used in specific situations.

Below, you’ll find a detailed guide on these different types of cocktail strainers. We’ll explore how and when to use each one to ensure you make perfect cocktails every time. First, let’s look at the Hawthorne Strainer.

The Hawthorne Strainer

A Hawthorne Strainer
A Hawthorne Strainer

When people think of a cocktail strainer, they are probably thinking of a Hawthorne Strainer. A Hawthorne Strainer is a flat, metal straining tool with a coiled spring wrapped around its edge.

The spring helps it to fit snugly inside various mixers and shakers and helps to hold back ice and larger ingredients such as fruits or muddled herbs. Some examples of cocktails that need a Hawthorne Strainer are the Cosmopolitan Cocktail, the Vodka Collins, and a classic Margarita. These cocktails mix ingredients and then filter out the solids to make a clear and smooth drink.

The Julep Strainer

A Julep Strainer on a table.
A Julep Strainer

A Julep Strainer looks like a large spoon with holes in it. It is typically used with a mixing glass for straining cocktails that are stirred rather than shaken. The Julep Strainer effectively filters out the larger solids from the drink, such as ice, fruit, or muddled ingredients, to create a smooth pour.

Cocktails that would typically need a Julep strainer are stirred classics such as the Manhattan, Vodka Martini, and the Old Fashioned.

The Fine Mesh Strainer

A Fine Mesh Strainer being used to make a cocktail.
A Fine Mesh Strainer

As the name suggests, the Fine Mesh Strainer is a small sieve with a very tight mesh. It is usually used together with another strainer (like the Hawthorne or Julep), to capture tiny particles, such as shards of ice, fine herbs, or citrus zest. Using two strainers like this is referred to as ‘double straining.’ Double straining ensures a super-smooth and clear cocktail, which is vital for cocktails like a Bramble, Cucumber Martini, or any drink where ingredients are muddled and a crystal-clear finish is desired.

The Built-in Strainer

A built-in Cocktail strainer on a white background
A Built-in Cocktail Strainer

A Built-in Strainer is found in the cap of a Cobbler Shaker. This type of shaker allows you to shake the cocktail and strain it straight away without the need for a separate straining tool. While it might not catch tiny shards of ice or fruit pulp, it is perfect for straightforward cocktails like a Caipirinha or a Mojito, that have minimal solid ingredients.

Cocktail Recipes

Now you know what the different cocktail strainers are and what they’re used for, it’s time for the fun part – to make some cocktails! Head on over to our Cocktail Recipe page to find the latest and greatest cocktail recipes you can try.