Food
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What is a Bar Strainer?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A bar strainer is a gadget which is used to keep pulp, crushed ice, fruit pits, and other debris out of mixed drinks. It is specifically designed for making cocktails and similar beverages, and does not have many uses beyond the bar. Many cooking and beverage supply stores sell bar strainers, usually made from stainless steel so that they are easy to care for. In addition, stainless steel will not corrode when exposed to acidic substances like lemon juice, unlike other materials which can be used to make kitchenware.

The design of a bar strainer usually includes a long handle for gripping, attached to a flat paddle with prongs designed to hold it outside a glass. A coiled spring along the edge keeps the strainer in position and also strains the fluid being poured through it. To use a bar strainer, a bartender holds it in place on the top of a mixing glass and upends the mixing glass over the glass that the drink will be served in. The drink is able to pour freely through the device, leaving detritus behind.

Bartender serving a glass of wine.
Bartender serving a glass of wine.

Several companies make bar strainers in different sizes to fit into different glasses. As a general rule, a strainer is used with a mixing glass or beverage tumbler. These glasses are often larger than serving glasses, leaving plenty of room for mixing a drink or multiple drinks. It is important to only use one that fits snugly into the glass, because chunks can slip into the drink otherwise. People who are setting up a bar may want to consider purchasing bar strainers, shakers, and glasses at the same time so that they can check for fit.

Modern bar.
Modern bar.

Using a bar strainer will yield a drink with a more homogeneous appearance and texture, making it more pleasant to consume. Especially when shaken mixed drinks are being served, this tool ensures that no shards of ice find their way into the final product, as the chunks can be unwelcome to the consumer. In a professional setting, a strainer is crucial, and most bartenders have several at their work stations to ensure that one is always available. At home, strainer can make a big difference in the quality of the drinks being served.

After gin, vermouth, and ice are added to a shaker and mixed, they are poured through a bar strainer into a martini glass to keep the ice out.
After gin, vermouth, and ice are added to a shaker and mixed, they are poured through a bar strainer into a martini glass to keep the ice out.

In most cases, the coiled spring on a strainer is removable for cleaning. Many bar strainers are dishwasher safe, in which case the coil should be removed and put in with the silverware. Otherwise, it should be taken apart to be washed with gentle soap and warm water, and the parts should be dried separately.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Bartender serving a glass of wine.
      Bartender serving a glass of wine.
    • Modern bar.
      Modern bar.
    • After gin, vermouth, and ice are added to a shaker and mixed, they are poured through a bar strainer into a martini glass to keep the ice out.
      By: dondesigns
      After gin, vermouth, and ice are added to a shaker and mixed, they are poured through a bar strainer into a martini glass to keep the ice out.