‘Martini. Shaken, not stirred.’
To most cocktail enthusiasts, the words of James Bond are borderline heresy.
But they point towards a reality of being a bartender, whether professionally or just at home: you’re going to have to strain a lot of cocktails, regardless of whether you shake or stir them.
So you can stick to making your classic gin martini in your stirring glass.
But what if you’re making a margarita, cosmopolitan, or my personal favorite, aviation? Yep, you’re going to need a shaker and strainer.
Most cocktail sets come with a strainer, but if we’re honest they can be flimsy, low quality, and not strain your drink anywhere near well enough to make your chest swell with pride as you serve it to your friends.
With that in mind, here’s a list of the best cocktail strainers you can get your hands on!
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The 5 Best Cocktail Strainers by Category in 2023
Best Overall: The Barsentials Cocktail Strainer Set
This cocktail strainer set is the best overall because it covers all your possible strainer needs, it’s as simple as that. This set by The Barsentials will give you a Hawthorne, fine mesh, and julep strainer, and they even throw in a bar spoon for good measure.
If you just need a quick strain, the Hawthorne will do the job, while the conical fine mesh strainer will prevent any tiny flecks of ice or mint leaves from disrupting the perfectly smooth texture of your finely crafted cocktail.
If you only need one type of strainer, then this set might seem like overkill, but the versatility will mean you’re never without the right type of bar strainer for whatever drink you’re trying to make.
At only $25, you’re getting a great price for a high-quality bar set that’s guaranteed to go the distance, and keep you from needing more strainers for years to come, so the Barsentials Cocktail Strainer Kit has to take the top spot as the best cocktail strainer on the market.
Best Budget: Sky Fish Cocktail Strainer
Home bars aren’t always the cheapest to set up, especially if you prioritize getting high-quality spirits to make your drink, so here’s a great option for a solid cocktail strainer if your purse strings are a little on the tighter side: the Sky Fish Cocktail Strainer!
The big talking point is of course the price. At only $8, you’ll be getting a high-quality product for much cheaper than many competitors on the market. It’s a conventional Hawthorne design, so you’ll not be left with flakes of ice and fruit in your drink, and the stainless steel material is going to stand the test of time, giving you a bar strainer to use for a good while before it needs replacing.
Is it going to do quite as good a job of finely straining your cocktail as the others on this list? Probably not, but if you’re looking for a quick find on a tight budget, there are many many worse options out there than the Sky Fish Cocktail Strainer.
Best Luxury: Prince of Scots Premium Bar Strainer
Sometimes you’re not buying for yourself. Sometimes you want to buy a gift for that person in your life, be they a friend, family or significant other, that just can’t get enough of making cocktails at home. Or maybe you are buying for yourself and you just want a fancy treat?
Either way, the Prince of Scots Premium Bar Strainer will make a wicked addition to anyone’s home bar!
Prince of Scots specializes in affordable luxury home bar products, and their cocktail strainers are no exception. You have a choice of a classic, Gaelic style Celtic Knot, or a more contemporary Tiki Kane, whichever suits your style best.
Each strainer is handcrafted and finished from a single piece of stainless steel, so you might end up with slight imperfections, but that’s part of the charm of ordering an artisan product.
Prince of Scots isn’t just all style over substance, both designs have been seamlessly incorporated into the classic Hawthorne build, and so you’re getting a top-quality strainer to match the classy designs.
At $29, this won’t be the cocktail strainer for tight budgets, but if you want a piece of your home bar that looks and feels great to use, and acts as a conversation starter, then the Prince of Scots Premium Bar Strainer is waiting!
Best Hawthorne: A Bar Above Hawthorne Strainer
A Bar Above has really established itself as a cut above in the industry over the last few years and it’s starting to reap rewards. Their Hawthorne Strainer is simply just the top pick if you want a single strainer to do the job for your home bar.
Founded by bartenders for bartenders, A Bar Above has focussed on delivering professional quality gear for either home or work use and this is no exception. The simple, ergonomic design will fit around any standard Boston shaker and is designed to strain your drink perfectly without slowing down your service.
They’ve not tried to reinvent the wheel of Hawthorne shakers at A Bar Above, but simply give you the last cocktail strainer you’ll ever need to buy. At $16.99, it’s a great investment and even comes in a lovely little box to be gift-wrapped if you aren’t buying this strainer for yourself.
Best Julep: A Bar Above Julep Strainer
The julep is a great cocktail no doubt: an absolute classic. But to make it, you’ll need a special kind of strainer. And once again, A Bar Above takes the biscuit for providing you with the best home bar tools you could ever need.
Traditionally, a julep strainer will be used for cocktails stirred in a mixing glass, rather than shaken cocktails like the Hawthorne, so it doesn’t give you quite as fine a strain, since your drink and its ice haven’t been smashed up while being mixed.
A Bar Above has applied the same professional standard to their Julep strainer as they have to their Hawthorne, giving you a durable, quality piece of equipment for home use.
The versatile and ergonomic shape of this bar strainer allows anyone to easily mix and strain their drink.
What to Look For in a Cocktail Strainer
There are a few different things you want in a cocktail strainer, and it all depends on what you intend to use it for. Generally, you want a durable, stainless steel strainer that is going to last you a good length of time.
If you’re mainly going to be shaking your cocktails, a Hawthorne strainer is a necessity to avoid flakes of ice and fruit going in your final drink, and you might even want to add in a fine mesh strainer to ‘double strain’ your drink to keep it extra consistent. If you use a julep strainer on a well-shaken cocktail, your drink will be bitty and unpleasant, so make sure to use the right equipment!
As briefly mentioned above, the julep strainer is great for cocktails that only require stirring in a mixing glass. Since you won’t have bits of fruit and ice smashed up in there, you can strain out much quicker than if you used a Hawthorne strainer, and you won’t be affecting the consistency.
As a general rule of thumb, if a bar strainer is made of good quality stainless steel, and fits comfortably in your hand, then it’ll be a great addition to your home bar toolkit. Cheap and nasty strainers will break, or the springs will go flimsy, and you’ll be left needing another one in no time, so don’t be scared to invest in a strainer that will last.
That’s It, Those Are the Best Cocktail Strainers for 2023
So now we’re done going over the best cocktail strainers on the market for 2023. Rather than straining your eyes trying to read this you can go out and strain the perfect espresso martini or margarita, just be sure to check out the Barsentials Cocktail Strainer Set here before you go!
I started bartending in 2017, just 4 days after my 18th birthday, at a cocktail bar in my hometown. I immediately fell in love with the art and science of mixology and have since worked in bars across Yarm, York and Liverpool in England.