Shakers and Strainers
Two of the most indispensable tools for the bartender and at home mixologist alike are the shaker and the strainer. Below we set out all you need to know about the different varieties of these barware basics.
A familiar gismo in the mixologist’s arsenal is the trusty shaker. You will find three main varieties, each of which has its pros and cons. The shaker also covers three primary purposes: it thoroughly mixes your ingredients, dilutes the drink, and chills it very quickly. A basic rule of thumb is to shake any drink that contains juice, dairy, or eggs. Your cocktail should be shaken vigorously for about 15 seconds as it should reach thermal equilibrium at this point. Just remember to hold on tight…
First up is the Boston shaker, your more durable and flexible friend. Two separate cups are sealed together by placing the larger one upside down over the smaller one. Usually, they are both made of tin, but you will occasionally find one cup made of glass instead. Although sealing and unsealing the Boston Shaker may require some practice, it is a timeless piece of kit chosen by the busiest of bartenders.
The Cobbler shaker is the most quintessential looking cocktail shaker and the one that’s probably sitting in the back of your cupboard. It is a two-piece contraption with a cap and a cup. Popular with at-home bartenders, convenience is its charm as it includes a built-in strainer and there is no knack needed to separate the shaker. Yet, drawbacks include leaking and the cap often getting frozen stuck.
Less prevalent than the rest is the French shaker (or Parisian shaker) - which we think has the classiest look. Its sleek design is halfway between the two shakers mentioned above, without a strainer but a cap and mixing cup.
Equally important as the shaker, a strainer removes muddled fruit or ice until only a liquid remains. The texture created by shaking your cocktail, specifically with egg whites and muddled fruit, is elevated through straining. There are three varieties of strainer: the Hawthorne strainer, the Julep Strainer, and the fine mesh strainer. But which one is best?
The Hawthorne strainer should be your go-to. It consists of a flat, perforated piece of metal lined with a spring that catches large solids. The spring makes it flexible as it can adapt to mixing cups and tins of multiple sizes. Around the edge of the strainer, there are sometimes ears or prongs that provide an extra level of stability and ease of use.
The Julep strainer provides pretty much the same service as the Hawthorne strainer. It is a bowl-shaped metal cup perforated with small holes and has a long handle. This design allows it to fit more easily over a mixing glass than the Hawthorne, but it is more often used for stirred drinks. It emerged in the mid-1800s to help cocktail enthusiasts avoid a face full of ice when enjoying their Mint Julep, hence its name.
If you require a very clear drink, a fine mesh strainer is used to remove small shards of ice and fruit that find their way past the previous two strainers. They can be held directly beneath the first strainer to achieve quick filtration. Typically, you use the fine mesh strainer when a drink dictates double straining such as a martini, our Stone Fruit Fizz or our Foxglove.