When it comes to making cocktails at home, having the right tools can make all the difference. One essential piece of barware that every cocktail enthusiast should have is a cocktail strainer. A strainer allows you to easily remove ice and other unwanted ingredients from your drink as you pour it into a glass. With so many different types of strainers available, it can be overwhelming to decide which one is right for you. Here are six things to consider when buying a cocktail strainer:
Various stainless steel tools strainers with cocktail

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Type of Strainer

There are several different types of strainers to choose from, including julep strainers, Hawthorne strainers, and fine strainers. Julep strainers are typically used for mint juleps and other cocktails that require muddling, as they have a perforated surface that allows you to crush ingredients without letting them escape into the drink. They also typically match with a mixing glass, which is used to stir spirit-forward cocktails with few ingredients, such as a Martini or Old Fashioned.
Hawthorne strainers have a spring-loaded wire band that fits snugly around the rim of a mixing glass or shaker, making them ideal for straining cocktails with ice and any cocktails with lots of varying ingredients.
Fine strainers, also known as tea strainers, have a fine mesh that is perfect for straining out small particles like fruit chunks, herbs, tiny ice shards, pulp, and egg whites, ensuring a smooth, clear drink.
Collection of Strainers

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Cocktail strainers are typically made from stainless steel, copper, or brass. Stainless steel is a durable and affordable option that is easy to clean and resists rust and tarnish.
Copper and brass are more expensive, but they add a touch of elegance to your bar setup but can also affect the flavor of your drink due to the metal’s chemical reaction with ingredients; these are also harder to clean because they usually aren’t dishwasher-safe. Copper is also a natural antimicrobial, however, making it a hygienic choice.
Mini Stainless Steel Fine Mesh Strainer Basket next to larger bowl

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The size of the strainer you choose will depend on the size of your mixing glass or shaker and the type of cocktail you plan to make. For example, a julep strainer is generally larger than a Hawthorne strainer, so you’ll want to make sure it fits your mixing glass or shaker comfortably.


The handle on a strainer can make a big difference in terms of comfort and functionality. Some strainers have a long, looped handle that allows you to easily hold and control the strainer while pouring. Others have a short handle or no handle at all, which can be less comfortable to use and require more dexterity.
Straining a cocktail with a Hawthorne strainer in a bar

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Ease of Cleaning

Cocktail strainers can be difficult to clean due to their intricate designs and small parts. Look for a strainer that is dishwasher safe or has few crevices and hard-to-reach areas where debris can accumulate.


Cocktail strainers can range in price from a few dollars to over a hundred dollars at a fancy shop, depending on the material, size, and design. Decide on a budget and choose a strainer that meets your needs and fits within your price range.
There are several factors to consider when buying a cocktail strainer. From the type of strainer to the material and size, each decision will impact the functionality and overall aesthetic of your bar setup. Consider your needs and preferences, and choose a strainer that will enhance your cocktail-making experience.
Julep strainer with stirred cocktail

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There are several other barware tools that are essential for making cocktails at home, in addition to a strainer. A cocktail shaker is a crucial tool for mixing and chilling cocktails, and can be either a Boston shaker (consisting of a metal tumbler and a mixing glass) or a cobbler shaker (consisting of a metal tumbler with a built-in strainer). A cocktail jigger is a small measuring cup with two differently sized cups, used for accurately measuring out ingredients. A muddler is a long, wooden tool used for mashing and crushing ingredients in the bottom of a mixing glass or shaker. A stirring spoon, often made of stainless steel or copper, is used for stirring cocktails that are served up (without ice).
individual tools for drink mixing now available in black, including a Boston-style shaker, double jigger, and cocktail strainer

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These tools allow you to create a wide variety of cocktails with precision and ease.

About Melanie Tornroth

A former English teacher, Melanie optimistically embraces the struggle that is work-from-home parenthood as the in-house writer for A Bar Above. When not responding to “Mom” and writing articles for ABA, she also runs Goodnickels Photography, loves to cuddle her cats, and is perfecting the art of keeping her pandemic “fermentation babies” alive.