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In a sea of similar-looking bar products, finding the perfect piece can be overwhelming—that’s why we’re here! For those looking to up their at-home cocktail-making game, having a solid cocktail strainer on hand is a must.
We took to the pros and vetted out the best go-to pieces for mixing up drinks from the comfort of your own bar. The results are in! Check out these top cocktail strainer picks from bartenders, mixologists, and brand ambassadors from around the country, here.
Best Overall: Koriko Hawthorne Strainer
Very tight coil
Slightly pricey for the category
"The Cocktail Kingdom Koriko Hawthorne strainers are the best all-around for getting the job done,” says Robby Dow, beverage director at Brooklyn's Grand Army Bar. “They fit perfectly into shaking tins to pour a shaken cocktail, and also fit perfectly in a mixing glass to strain a stirred cocktail as well,” Dow notes that the strainers additionally allow one to compress the spring for a tighter fit, which keeps unwanted ice chunks out of the cocktail. “This is an ideal strainer for a home bartender looking for a one-stop shop that is used and trusted by pros.”
Maxwell Reis, beverage director of plant-based Mexican restaurant Gracias Madre in Los Angeles, uses the stainless steel Koriko Hawthorne Strainer as well. “The Koriko Hawthorne Strainer is designed to make it easy to do a true split pour, plus fits large and standard mixing glasses,” he explains, noting that this product should be an industry standard. “It’s built to last and has the finest strain on any Hawthorn strainer on the market,” he says. “Once you go Koriko Hawthorn, you won't go back.”
Kristine Schranz, lead mixologist for Chicago's Adorn Bar & Restaurant, also agrees. “Cocktail Kingdom's Koriko Hawthorne Strainers are the industry standard for cocktail service,” she explains, citing them as durable, weighted, and easy to handle. “They fit snugly onto your shaker tin for quick/easy straining, especially when double straining.”
Best Budget: Bar Products No Prong Cocktail Strainer
Made with professional grade stainless steel
No prongs (obvious)
Who says you have to spend big to get a great strainer? For those building their at-home bars on a budget, this solid pick from Bar Products offers the perfect solution (at less than $5!) The No-Prong model is made to fit any shaker and ensures a tight strain with every use.
Sai Hamsala, bartender and brand ambassador for Diplomatico Rum notes that Bar Product’s No Prong With Handle strainer comes at a very affordable price and lasts for a long time. “It’s made of stainless steel and is very durable,” he says, noting that the tight fit of the strainer’s coils, as well as its absence of prongs, allows the strainer to fit inside the mouth of a cocktail shaker or mixing glass.
Best Splurge: Tepotztli Cocktail Strainers
Looking for a jaw dropping statement piece to add to your at-home bar? Look no further than these hand-painted strainers by Tepotztli. Available in 16 different options, ranging from classic steel to colorfully painted, these conversation pieces promise a gorgeous, ice-free pour every time.
Jon Bamonte, head bartender at Vernick Fish in Philadelphia, can’t sing the praises of Tepotztli strainers enough. “What I like about [these strainers] is that they have a similar design from a functionality standpoint, but the pieces are unique and handmade, crafted from hammered pieces of copper and hand painting,” he explains. Bamonte notes that Tepotztli pieces help make cocktail experiences more special, as well as spark great conversations with guests.
Best Hawthorne: Buswell’s 4-Prong Hawthorne Strainer
Fits most glasses
The more popular stainless steel version is often out of stock.
Dave Purcell, beverage director at The Waterfront in Venice, Calif., reveals that Buswell’s 4-Prong Hawthorne Strainer is his go-to pick within the category. “It's really versatile, so it'll fit whatever mixing glass or tin you're using, and it strains all the little ice chips out so that you don't get a puddle on top of your cocktail,” he explains. Purcell notes that seeking out a strainer that provides comfort, ease, aesthetics, and utility is key.
Ryan Chetiyawardana, global bar innovator for the Lore Group, agrees. “I favor function over form in this field, and heavy, 4-pronged Hawthorne strainers, such as those from Cocktail Kingdom, are stable, fit most shakers and mixing vessels, and are easy to master,” he says. Chetiyawardana notes that these features, when coupled with a mesh fine strainer, creates a perfect tool that can handle most drink creations crafted by those of all cocktail-making levels, from at-home novices to seasoned mixologists.
“This is the best cocktail strainer in my book, as it's perfect for stirred or shaken cocktails. Cocktail Kingdom is an industry-standard for a reason!"
— Ryan Williams, lead bartender at Denver’s Poka Lola Social Club
Best Julep: Barfly Scalloped Julep Strainer
5 finishes available
Barfly Scalloped Julep Strainers are as beautiful as they are useful. "For Julep strainers, we use Barfly scalloped because of their elegant look but workhorse durability,” says Jonah Dill-D'Ascoli, beverage director at New York's Rosemary East. Dill-D’Ascoli notes that the bar uses julep strainers frequently, so having something that can “stand up to a lot of punishment” is key. “We also want our guests to have an elevated experience, so something clunky takes away from that dance at the bar,” he adds. The strainer’s handle bend also allows for easy resting on shakers/glass rims to ensure that the strainer doesn’t slip.
(For an additional scalloped strainer recommendation, Hamsala also recommends Wilkinson’s Scalloped Strainer. Its beautiful vintage design, inspired by David Wondrich and Greg Boehm's private collections, is crafted with a traditional, silver-plated EPNS finish, “ he says, though notes that it can be hand-washed only.)
Best Fine Mesh: Viski Stainless Steel Mesh Cone Strainer
Great for fine particles/herbs
May be too simple for those who prefer Hawthorne styles
When it comes to sifting out itty bitty particles (ice chips, herbs, and beyond), seeking out a fine mesh strainer is key. Created to fit most standard mixing glasses, this professional-grade strainer is crafted from stainless steel and can be used underneath a Hawthorne or Julep strainer for a double strain.
Schranz calls Viski’s Stainless Steel Mesh Cone strainer her favorite for double strain cocktails. “The main reason why is because they have a deep cone and wide-mouthed construction, which allows for easy straining with multiple cocktails in a tin,” she explains.
Related: The Best Bar Tools in 2021
Best Design: Cocktail Kingdom’s Antique Style Hawthorne Strainer
For a fun twist on the classic Hawthorne strainer, Purcell recommends Cocktail Kingdom’s Antique Style Hawthorne strainer. “It’s a fun specialty piece; I like the crimped metalwork of the handle that fits nicely on the edge of a tin or in a mixing glass, and it also allows for easy movement and a nice consistency of flow.”
Anthony Bohlinger, national brand ambassador for Fistful of Bourbon, agrees. “For a standard shaken cocktail, like a gimlet, I prefer using the Antique Hawthorne Strainer from Cocktail Kingdom,” he says, describing the piece as super simple and efficient. Bohlinger also notes that using the piece with other barware can help amplify the cocktail-making experience. “[For example], pairing it up with a tea strainer works best to remove any smaller bits of ice as well,” he says.
Best Short Handle: Piña Barware ‘The Hawthornette’ Hawthorn Style Strainer
Some may prefer longer handle
This short-handled strainer from Piña Barware is durable, practical, and dishwasher safe. The strainer’s two coils allow for pour-speed control, and the non-slip rubber finger grips ensure that cocktails end up in the glass (and not on the bar). This 100% stainless steel strainer was built with professionals in mind—in short, heavy and long-term use encouraged!
Cassandra Pease, beverage director at Hermanito, cites this short-handled strainer as her go-to. “I [personally] love the short handle and the double coils that reach all the way around the circumference of the glass,” she explains, citing the strainer as both practical and durable. “The rubber finger grip not only helps to secure the strainer in place, but it also makes it very easy to control the speed of your pour,” she says. Pease also notes that in addition to being very reasonably priced, the piece is also dishwasher safe.
Best Versatile: A Bar Above Hawthorne Strainer
Some may prefer longer handle
At the end of the day, versatility is key, and A Bar Above’s Hawthorne Strainer can truly do it all. The strainer was designed with comfort, durability, and speed in mind—and at less than $15 a pop, you really can’t go wrong here.
“I love A Bar Above’s Hawthorne Strainer because it’s durable and has really tight coils, so it does its job well,” says Anna Mains, national brand ambassador for Monkey Shoulder. Mains notes that although everyone’s hands are different, this strainer is particularly comfortable and generally allows for a natural “finger rest” and “finger hold” on the product.
“The strainer doesn’t rub or cut into the side of my hand like some other strainers do during a busy shift, plus, it is easy to use and is super affordable! Win Win!”
— Anna Mains, national brand ambassador for Monkey Shoulder
At the end of the day, Cocktail Kingdom products tend to reign king in the realms of quality, price, and durability (as well as industry approval). Hawthorne style strainers tend to be the most commonly recommended, though fine mesh strainers are great for smaller particles. You can’t go wrong with the Koriko Hawthorne Strainer (view at Amazon) or Buswell’s 4-Prong Hawthorne Strainer (view at Amazon), though products from Tepotztli (view here) or the Antique Style Hawthorne Strainer (view at Cocktail Kingdom) offer a more aesthetically-pleasing pour.
What to Look For
When seeking out a high-quality cocktail strainer, be sure to find something versatile and durable. Non-slip finger rests and handles are great added bonuses, and double coils allow for pour control. The springs found in Hawthorne strainers ensure a snug fit, though fine mesh strainers will often be better for finer particles/ice chips/sediment.
Why do Hawthorne strainers have springs?
The main purpose for Hawthorne strainer’s springs are to fit snugly inside of the glass, as well as to trap large chunks of ice, leaves, fruit, or other ingredients and keep them out of the glass.
What’s the best way to clean strainers?
As with most barware items, washing strainers by hand with warm soap and water is your best bet—so long as they’re not mesh, that is. We recommend washing your mesh strainers in the dishwasher (should they be labeled as dishwasher safe), as washing mesh strainers by hand (with a sponge) can frequently result in little pieces left behind.
Which strainer is best for fine/muddled herbs?
We’ve found that fine mesh strainers are best for fine/muddled herbs. If using a traditional Hawthorne or Julep strainer, simply filter through a mesh strainer below for double (and extra reliable!) strainage.
Can I use cocktail strainers for other things besides cocktails?
Of course! Just be sure to thoroughly clean the strainers when you’re finished.
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Vicki Denig is a wine and travel journalist who splits her time between New York and Paris. Her work regularly appears in major industry publications, and she is also the content creator and social media manager for a list of prestigious clients, including Sopexa, Paris Wine Company, Becky Wasserman, Volcanic Selections, Le Du’s Wines, Windmill Wine & Spirits and Corkbuzz. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine.
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