Cocktail Strainers

Cocktail strainers are a bar essential. They strain ingredients and ice from the glass to serve a clear drink to customers. It is usually made of stainless steel metal for easy cleaning and maintenance. The two types of strainers are the Hawthorne and Julep strainers.

The first patent for the “Julep cocktail strainer” was awarded in 1889 to Charles P. Lindley of Bridgeport. He invented a strainer with coils surrounding the base so the ingredients and the ice can stay in the mixing glass and a clear liquid can be poured into the serving glass.

Unfortunately, this design was similar to Hawthorne strainers, leading to Lindley’s patent not being considered. Julep strainers are pretty common compared to the Hawthorne strainers. 

Around 1881, a patent by H. C. Alden featured a short handle. He called it a web-type strainer, but it bore a striking resemblance to the Julep strainers. Many believed that Julep strainers evolved from a soup strainer to a cocktail strainer we know today.

Hawthorne Strainers

Julep Strainers

The Difference Between a Hawthorne and a Julep Strainer

Hawthorne Strainers. These are Julep strainers with a coil surrounding the outer area. It was designed to be bigger to fit Boston shakers for an easier way to strain out ingredients.

The inventor William Wright didn’t even use his name to create the patent in 1894, but it was named after a Boston Bar called The Hawthorne Cafe. Hence it’s Boston roots and the reason for it being an essential tool for Boston Shakers.

The design took inspiration from Chinese tea strainers with two or three prongs supporting them and keeping the ingredients from falling into the glass. The perforated spoon with the surrounding coils makes it easier to keep the elements in one spot.

It’s one of the most popular strainers for home or professional bartending. However, bartenders still prefer the simple Julep strainer due to the difficulty of cleaning the coils. Depending on what you choose, Hawthorne strainers can be a valuable tool in the bar.

Julep Strainers. These are designed to be bowl-shaped perforated spoons. They fit nicely in a glass so the bartender or mixer can pour the cocktail directly into the glass with the strainer covering the mixing glass.

It was believed that Julep strainers were invented for gentlemen with mustaches. To keep their whiskers clean, the strainer is used to strain any solid ingredients when they sip. Nowadays, Julep strainers evolved from mustache guards to a useful bar tool.

Surprisingly, they’re not made for drinks like mint juleps, as you need the ingredients to be inside the glass to get all of the flavors required. Mint Juleps require muddled mint leaves and sugar to be placed at the bottom of the glass; straining this out will dull the taste.

These strainers are excellent for beginner bartenders as they are easier to control compared to Hawthorne strainers. Its simple design is less daunting and how it works is pretty straightforward.


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