We typically see bartenders use a cocktail strainer to filter not just ice but the lump of ingredients from the drink as well. But what is the spring on the cocktail strainer for? To answer that question, we need to identify what kind of strainer we’re dealing with first. The one with the spring (some call it a coil) is called a Hawthorne cocktail strainer.
Fixed around the edge of the rim, the Hawthorne cocktail strainer’s metal spring rolls inward to fit inside the glass. Another purpose of this spring is to trap large chunks of ice and other solid ingredients like muddled fruit or mint leaves.
The Advent of the Spring in Cocktail Strainer
The Hawthorne strainer, which earned its name because of its use at a bar called ‘The Hawthorne’ in the late 1800s, revolutionized cocktail strainers with its handy spring contraption. It was designed to sit perfectly over any cocktail shaker or glass without any locking so that it can be easily removed.
This cocktail strainer was also modeled after the traditional Chinese tea strainer, but the spring was added and patented later. It became popular when fresh, clean ice became available anywhere, which made straining almost mandatory rather than optional. Strainers of this type are specifically used for shaken cocktails served “up” that have shards of ice in them.
Today, any cocktail strainer with a spring is called a Hawthorne, even in cases where it’s an entirely different brand. Still, this type of cocktail strainer is one of the most utilized because of two game-changing features: the design and the spring. Its design allows it to instantly fit any shaker glass, while its spring can be replaced and cleaned of any fruit seeds or shreds any time.
To use a cocktail strainer with a spring, just place it over the glass or shaker's opening with the drink you wish to strain. Next, you have to push the tab down to close it, allowing you to double strain your cocktail. Lastly, you have to slowly pour the cocktail through the strainer into the serving glass.
The spring or the coil on the Hawthorne cocktail strainer is considered a breakthrough in the realm of mixology, and the fact that it’s being used as standard by any bartender is a testament to the ingenuity of its design. Plus, you have to admit that the spring just makes this bar tool look way cooler.
Did this article satisfy your curiosity as to why there’s a spring on a cocktail strainer? If you have something to share, please do so in the comments! We’d love to hear about it.