Best Hawthorne Strainer: Why You Need One and How to Use It

If you love mixing cocktails, you should invest in a Hawthorne strainer, one of the handiest bar tools you’ll use. I’ve researched the features and reviews of the best Hawthorne strainers out there, providing you a list of the top picks. Plus, I’ve included a handy buying guide with extra tips. I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about this useful bar tool.

bartender using a Hawthorne strainer

Hawthorne Strainers make the art of making cocktails easy. You know how it’s always hard to take the top off of a cocktail shaker with an integrated strainer? With a Hawthorne strainer, you will never need to wrestle one off again. There are different strainers bartenders use but the Hawthorne Strainer is properly the most commonly used. This bar tool’s distinct feature that sets it apart from other bar strainers is the spring.

Depending on your needs, the Hawthorne Strainer can have both benefits and drawbacks. You can fit in almost all mixing tin shakers. And they are generally inexpensive. However, cleaning Hawthorne Strainers can be difficult because of their design if you don’t have a dishwasher, and they aren’t as tidy on a home bar as an all-in-one cocktail shaker.

If you’re just looking for the best Hawthorne strainer and don’t want options, go with the OXO Steel Cocktail Strainer. It’s stainless steel, has a comfortable grip and feels sturdy. This strainer has lasted me a long time and is one of my go-to bar tools.  

What Is a Hawthorne Strainer?

Its name “Hawthorne Strainer” comes from a well-known manufacturer, which used to sell pronged metal strainers. A Hawthorne Strainer is a useful bar tool that filters out stray herbs and ice from a shaken cocktail. It helps create a smooth cocktail mixture.

A Hawthorne Strainer is a perforated disk with a spring positioned on a portion of the perimeter. And as liquid leaves the shaker, the spring functions as a filter. Hawthorne strainers are used more frequently by bartenders than julep strainers and mesh filters due to their versatility. They fit practically all Boston shakers and mixing glasses, which don’t feature a strainer. 

How Does a Hawthorne Strainer Work?

Generally, the Hawthorne Strainers feature 2-4 stabilizing prongs. The prongs attach to a metal shaker’s end. When you prepare cocktails fast, the protruding metal grip makes it easier to hold. Those prongs are attached to a spherical flat metal strainer through which liquid can flow. A downward spiral spring is also linked to the strainer’s edge, which makes it easy to hold it in position the shaker’s lid.

My Top Picks for the Best Hawthorne Strainer

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Dimensions: 7 x 3.5 inches x 1.7 inches
  • Features: non-slip finger rest
  • Brand: OXO
View On Amazon →Read Our Review
  • Dimensions: 1.57 x 3.94 x 5.51 inches
  • Features: multiple finishes, double pour
  • Brand: A Bar Above
View On Amazon →Read Our Review
  • Dimensions: 6 x 3.75 x 1.5 inches
  • Features: heavy duty spring
  • Brand: Barfly
View On Amazon →Read Our Review
  • Dimensions: 6.5 x 3.5 inches
  • Features: great value
  • Brand: The Barsentials
View On Amazon →Read Our Review

Reviews: The Best Hawthorne Strainer

Looking to make your own delicious cocktails soon? Here are the best Hawthorne Strainers you could use in making a smooth drink, with pros and cons to help making the decision easy. 

Best Overall

OXO Steel Cocktail Strainer

If you’re looking for an excellent and affordable option, you may check out the OXO Steel Cocktail Strainer. This cocktail strainer has a durable stainless steel body. It features a comfortable handle that offers smooth and natural pouring. It also has a soft, non-slip finger rest which prevents accidental slips. 

The OXO cocktail also features a raised lip that prevents liquids from dripping. The two short handles also help in storing this cocktail strainer. It has a timeless, classic design and fits well on various shakers and mixing glasses.  This strainer is easy to wash and is safe to throw in the dishwasher. It’s a great cocktail strainer whether you’re a professional bartender or just mixing drinks at home. 

Pros:

– Durable cocktail strainer

– Comfy handle offers easy pour

– Classic design

– Easy to store and dishwasher-safe

– Backed by OXO’s years of guarantee

Cons:

-The spring might be too small for certain shaker tins

Best For Professional Bartenders

A Bar Above Hawthorne Cocktail Strainer

Now, if you serve cocktails for a living, invest in a Hawthorne strainer fit for professional bartenders. The A Bar Above Hawthorne Cocktail Strainer comes in different gorgeous finishes, but I chose the copper one to be on my list, because, why not?

The A Bar Above cocktail strainer is crafted from polished food-grade stainless steel. It’s been tested for durability — it doesn’t bend or rust! Its patented pending design reduces the stress on your hands. This is great for long shifts at the bar. 

With this cocktail strainer, you don’t need to worry about sharp edges digging into your thumb or use badly placed finger grips that cause hand strain because this strainer was designed by a bartender. This regular-sized strainer fits in several cocktail shakers, and mixing glasses. Its high-quality, tightly coiled spring trains finely and prevents fruit pulp and ice shards from entering your cocktail. This strainer is backed by A Bar Above’s money-back guarantee.

Pros:

– Durable and high quality

– Finger rest allows better straining

– High-quality stainless steel spring

– Backed by a money-back guarantee

Cons:

– Large and bulky

– Won’t fit cocktail shakers of the same brand

Best for Heavy Duty Straining

Barfly Heavy Duty Spring Bar Strainer

If you’re looking for a heavy-duty tool for bulky shards of ice and solid debris from fruits, you may refer to the Barfly Heavy Duty Spring Bar Strainer. This cocktail strainer is made of durable stainless steel material. It’s excellent at finely straining cocktails.

The Barfly features an optimal perforation pattern for efficient pouring. It also has integral prongs for balancing the strainer on the shaker or glass. Another important component is the finger stop. It allows for a better grip on the strainer while pouring. This cocktail strainer is also dishwasher-safe, so cleaning will be a breeze. Plus, it comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Pros:

– Heavy-duty spring to filter ice & other solids

– Integral prongs allow for balance

– Finger stop enables better grip

– Dishwasher-safe

– Comes with a limited lifetime warranty

Cons:

 – Although the manufacturer says it’s dishwasher-safe, many users contradict this

Best Cocktail Strainer Set

TheBarsentials Cocktail Strainer Set

If you’re looking to get a Hawthorne, Julep, and a fine mesh strainer, the TheBarsentials Cocktail Strainer Set could be a great deal. This cocktail strainer set is a must-have set of premium bar tools. You can filter ice, fruit bits, herbs, and other debris from your beloved margarita, mojito, and daiquiri. And just about any beverage that requires filtration.

This TheBarsentials set includes a cocktail stirring spoon with a twisted 11-inch long handle, providing excellent control and grip on the spoon while stirring. The Hawthorne Strainer can be used for different sizes of cocktail shakers. Whereas the Julep Strainer is the easiest to use in a mixing glass. Finally, the conical fine mesh strainers filter out even the tiniest ice shards and citrus or mint bits.

All components of this set are made of professional-grade stainless steel material. Suitable for everyday use in your home bar. A drawback that I can point out with this set is that the mesh strainer might not be that durable. And this is per user review. Nevertheless, I think it’s a great collection to have.

Pros:

– Practical purchase; no need to buy each strainer separately

– Premium bar tools at a reasonable price tag

– Has a bar spoon as a freebie; can stir fruit punch mixed in pitchers

Cons:

– Hawthorne Strainer doesn’t have a tab

– Mesh strainer isn’t as durable as others

Buying Guide: Choosing the Best Hawthorne Strainer

Before investing in a Hawthorne Strainer, you may want to look at the integral parts that make these bar tools effective. But one of the things you must focus on is the spring, the head design, and the handle. You can refer to the buying guide below to learn more.

Head Design

Hawthorne Strainers prevent ice cubes and debris from diving into your cocktail as you transfer it into the glass. This might seem like a basic skill, but some designs are simpler to use and are more effective for finer straining than many others due to a few considerations.

Since cocktail shakers come in a variety of sizes, a Hawthorne strainer’s head design is important in gauging how well it will fit on various containers. Its spring slips inside the shaker to fit snugly, and the prongs attached to the top usually help the strainer sit on top of multiple sizes of shaker tins. 

I recommend getting one with longer prongs to span the rims of large tins and has room to spare. This ensures that it sits snugly. Some stainers have prongs that don’t quite reach the corners of some Boston shakers’ larger part. When this happens, you’ll need to work with it to get it to lock on. 

Handle and Finger Grips

Handle and finger grips also enhance the usability of a Hawthorne Strainer. While doing my research, I discovered that professionals prefer strainers that are well-balanced with short, lightweight handles. Some feature an excessively hefty and long handle. This makes it impossible to keep the strainer on the shaker while keeping it in place. The inevitable happens, in which the shaker flips backward.

You may also opt for strainers with finger rests. These are small tabs protruding from the center of their heads. Finger rests offer a more stable grasp and precise control. Simply place your index finger on the small tab, then press it against the head. This will keep the strainer placed firmly against the shaker’s rim.

You may also squeeze the spring and limit the space by which your liquid strains. You can do this by simply pressing down on the tab. Doing this allows you to have a more finely filtered drink.

Spring Design

This is the most important feature of a Hawthorne Strainer. The spring design indicates how well it performs in filtering out the solid bits. If you’d like a cocktail that’s clear of bulky ice cubes, fruit pulp, and herbs, you may consider looking at the spring design of the strainer.

Many Hawthorne strainers won’t completely get rid of the teeny tiny bits of pulp and ice off your drink. In this case, you can always use a fine mesh strainer together with the Hawthorne strainer. It’s how bartenders do it. 

Strainers that have closer coils on the spring can filter better. Those with coil gaps of only about a millimeter filter liquids incredibly finely. They allow very little to no ice, citrus, and mint pieces through. Strainers with a spacing of 1.3 to 2 millimeters, on the other hand, can leave chunks of ice and allow pulp and small bits of herbs to pass through.

Tightly coiled springs can be even more difficult to clean than loosely coiled springs since they collect more bits. Though I believe the efficiency outweighs any slight inconveniences in cleaning.

Material and Finish

When shopping for a strainer, you’ll learn that most strainers are made of metal. However, some strainers contain rubber parts, which are the tabs or handles. Stainless steel is always a great option for kitchen and bar supplies. Modern strainers are available in a variety of finishes. Such as rose gold, copper, silver, as well as matte black.

Ease of Use

Always pick the most convenient strainer to use for you. And I cannot stress this enough. A Hawthorne Strainer with a tab is a wonderful option for most bartenders because it’s comfortable, easy to grip, and helps cocktail making a speedier process. 

Price

Price is always something you consider, no matter what you are buying. But you need to also evaluate the item’s value. A pricier cocktail strainer but is more durable could be a preferable option. Particularly in professional bars. Luckily, Hawthorne strainers are not very expensive, and all the top picks are great choices for any home bar. 

How To Use a Hawthorne Strainer

You don’t need to be a bartender to become an expert with a Hawthorne strainer. Here’s how to use a Hawthorne cocktail strainer to get clearer juice and cocktails.

  1. After you’ve mixed or shaken your drink, set the cocktail strainer over the shaker.
  2. Check that the strainer is tightly installed on the shaker’s edges. The key to knowing this is that you shouldn’t have to hold the strainer in place at this step.
  3. Fold your palm around the shaker’s rim, then place your index finger upon the tab on the strainer’s head.
  4. Using your finger, push down and against the cocktail strainer to reduce the gap between its spring and the shaker.
  5. Pour it into your glass, and enjoy a smooth, refreshing cocktail.

Why Do You Need a Hawthorne Strainer?

Bartenders already understand why such strainer is important in the wonderful world of mixology. But if you love making cocktails like margaritas at home, a Hawthorne Strainer is useful in getting rid of the solids in a beverage, such as herbs and ice.

Since cocktails are often shaken, you’ll likely find shards of ice in them. And that’s where the Hawthorne Strainer comes into play. With this bar tool, you can have a glass of delicious and refreshing cocktail that’s free of ice, mint, citrus, or fruit pulp.

Hawthorne Strainer vs. Julep Strainer: What’s the Difference?

A Hawthorne strainer and a Julep strainer are often mistaken for one another, but they do serve different purposes. A Hawthorne strainer is typically used to strain out large pieces of fruit or herbs from your cocktail while the Julep is used to hold back ice when straining stirred drinks Neither is better than the other, it just depends on what type of drink you’re making and how much liquid you need in the glass.

And whether you use a Hawthorne Strainer or a Julep Strainer, occasionally you’ll still need a bit of help from a fine mesh strainer, since tiny shards of ice and chunks of fruit can pass through such strainers. A fine mesh strainer would be required for any drink that needs to be double strained.

Julep Strainer

The traditional use of a Julep strainer is to hold the ice back in a mint julep while sipping. However, it can be used in other ways.

The design of the julep strainer is basic and shaker-like. This strainer is usually a simple perforated metal disc. And it features somewhat curved sides as well as a functioning handle. When you filter a cocktail from a mixing glass, you can use a julep strainer, as long as there isn’t small debris. 

Hawthorne Strainer

For a couple of reasons, more experienced bartenders may believe the Hawthorne Strainer is a preferable alternative. Well, they might be right. This cocktail strainer effortlessly adapts to mixing glasses and tins of various sizes, which you may need when making a variety of drinks. Another perk is speed. It strains drinks more quickly. Plus, it appears to be attractive.

Fine Mesh Strainer

Fine mesh cocktail strainers, which come in a variety of sizes, are often held just below the first strainer to ensure satisfactory filtration. The style of the filter was originally adopted from tea manufacturing and is now a staple in nearly every bar.

Whether you’re using a Julep or a Hawthorne strainer, these don’t always collect all of the pulp and ice. So, who do you call up? The fine mesh strainer! You can simply filter the beverage through it to guarantee that your drink will be smoother. It’s a very common technique. 

How to Double Strain

Sit the mesh strainer on top of the serving glass. With your hawthorne strainer on the cocktail shaker, pour your drink through the mesh strainer into the glass. That way, anything that gets past the first strainer won’t make it through the mesh. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a good Hawthorne strainer?

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the spring design indicates how well a Hawthorne strainer will do its job. The most critical element is how the strainer filters away the solids. Hawthorne strainers with even more tightly spaced coils are more effective at filtering out the solids in cocktails.

Which strainer is Hawthorne?

It’s easy to recognize a Hawthorne strainer from a Julep Strainer. If you see a spring in a cocktail strainer, you’re looking at a Hawthorne strainer. It’s the one bartenders use with mixing tins. No other cocktail strainers will have a coil. 

Which cocktail strainer is best?

I recommend the OXO Steel Cocktail Strainer. This cocktail filter is the best for clearing your drinks of solids. It’s also a cocktail strainer that professional bartenders swear by. It perfectly fits inside Boston shakers and many mixing glasses.

What can I use instead of a Hawthorne strainer?

A tea strainer will be useful if you don’t have the strainers that bartenders use for double straining. Just make sure that the strainer is smaller in diameter than the cocktail shaker you’re using. Then you should be fine.

Conclusion

My favorite Hawthorne Strainer is the OXO Steel Cocktail Strainer because it’s affordable and durable. But if you’re a seasoned bartender or want different finishes, the A Bar Above Hawthorne Cocktail Strainer may just become your favorite cocktail strainer. If you’re looking for one that is up for the task of removing ice shards and solid bits of fruits and herbs, the Barfly Heavy Duty Spring Bar Strainer may be a great option.

I hope you find this guide helpful in finding the best Hawthorne Strainer for your bar or restaurant. And even if you’re a beginner and just looking to add to your home bar, any of these options will be perfect for making refreshing beverages. 

Check out the latest prices and discounts on these awesome Hawthorne Strainers, and don’t forget to let me know how well you did with your mocktail concoctions. Good luck!