Every home bartender knows that having the right tools is essential to crafting delicious cocktails. One tool that should not be overlooked is the Hawthorne strainer. This handy tool is used to filter out ice and other solids from cocktails, ensuring that they are smooth and consistent.
Let’s explore what a Hawthorne strainer is, what it is used for, and why every home bartender needs one.
Stainless steel Hawthorne strainer with holiday cocktail

Hawthorne Strainer, Copyright A Bar Above


What is a Hawthorne Strainer?

A Hawthorne strainer, also known as a cocktail strainer or bar strainer, is a tool used in cocktail-making to strain out ice and other solids– like fruit and herbs– from mixed drinks. It’s made up of a metal ring with a spring attached to it, which fits over the top of a cocktail shaker or mixing glass.
The strainer’s spring holds a fine mesh disc or a coil of metal that filters out the solid ingredients. These strainers are typically made of stainless steel or other metals, and they are sized to fit industry-standard cocktail shakers and pint glasses.
Straining a cocktail with a Hawthorne strainer in a bar

Copyright A Bar Above

What is a Hawthorne Strainer Used For?

As I mentioned, the Hawthorne strainer is used to filter out ice and other solids from cocktails. When making a cocktail, it is often necessary to shake or stir the ingredients with ice to chill and dilute them.
But you don’t want those ice shards in your cocktail! A Hawthorne strainer filters out these ice cubes so that the cocktail is super smooth.
Often times, you’ll use a Hawthorne strainer with a fine mesh cocktail strainer or fine strainer cocktail to make sure your drink is free of any small particles that could affect the taste or texture of the cocktail. This technique is called double-straining, and it helps remove muddled mint, berry seeds, and super tiny ice shards.
Hawthorne strainer with cocktail and bar napkin

Copyright A Bar Above

Why Every Home Bartender Needs a Hawthorne Strainer

There are several reasons why every home bartender needs a Hawthorne strainer:
  • You really need to filter out ice and other ingredients from cocktails so your drink is smooth, and this is the easiest tool for doing that.
  • This strainer is also small and easy to store.
  • A Hawthorne strainer is cost-effective, simple to use, and can be used for a wide variety of cocktails, making it an important tool to have in your home bar.


Gold Hawthorne strainer, copyright A Bar Above

Copyright A Bar Above


Choosing the Right Hawthorne Strainer for Your Home Bar

Choosing the right Hawthorne strainer for your home bar can be challenging because there are a lot of options out there. But here are some factors to consider that can help you make the right choice:
  • Material – The most common material for these strainers is stainless steel, but you’ll also see brass and copper ones on the market. Stainless steel is durable, corrosion-resistant, and easy to clean, making it ideal for home bar use. It can also be plated in a variety of coatings, so your strainer can still be gold, copper, black, or bronze instead of silver.
  • Coil – The coil is the main component of the strainer, and it’s responsible for catching ice and other ingredients. A tight coil with small gaps is more effective at straining debris, while a looser coil with larger gaps allows for a faster flow of liquids.
  • Handle – Your strainer should be comfortable to grip and hold, especially when you’re straining multiple drinks. Look for an ergonomic handle (like ours!) that feels good in your hand.
  • Dishwasher Safe – Cleaning your Hawthorne strainer after use is important so it doesn’t rust or contaminate your next drink. A strainer that’s dishwasher safe can save you time and effort, but some materials such as brass or copper may need to be hand-washed to avoid damage.
  • Brand – Consider buying a Hawthorne strainer from a reputable brand (cough, A Bar Above, cough) to ensure quality and durability.
Small Fine Strainer pouring cocktail

Double Straining with Hawthorne and Fine Strainers, Copyright A Bar Above


How to Use a Hawthorne Strainer

Using a Hawthorne strainer is really simple. Fill your cocktail shaker or mixing glass with ice and the ingredients for your drink. Then place the strainer over the top of the shaker or glass, making sure that the spring is securely in place, and pour the cocktail into your glass, filtered the drink through the strainer as you pour.
And remember, if you need to double-strain a cocktail with muddled ingredients or egg whites, just put a fine strainer between your shaker and your glass.
Various stainless steel tools strainers with cocktail

Copyright A Bar Above

Maintenance and Care of Hawthorne Strainers

To make your Hawthorne strainer last for years to come, it’s important to take proper care of it. After each use, rinse the strainer with warm water and dry it thoroughly with a clean towel– or just pop it in the dishwasher and then make sure it’s dried thoroughly.
This will prevent any residual cocktail ingredients from staining the strainer or causing it to rust. If the strainer becomes particularly dirty (and you either don’t have time to run it through the dishwasher or it isn’t dishwasher-safe), you can wash it with mild soap and warm water, being careful not to damage the fine mesh or the spring.
Tip: Store the strainer in a dry place when not in use, and avoid leaving it in water or other liquids for extended periods so it doesn’t rust!
A Hawthorne strainer really is an essential tool for any home bartender; you kind of can’t make cocktails without it! When looking for the best cocktail strainer, make sure to consider the factors above– but trust us, we’ve tested ours for years, and you can’t go wrong with the A Bar Above Hawthorne strainer!
By investing in a high-quality Hawthorne strainer, you can take your home bartending game to the next level and create delicious, professional-quality cocktails in the comfort of your own home.

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.