Getting Acquainted with Strainers & Bar Spoons

The strainer and bar spoon have been in use for centuries and are, still to this day, astonishingly similar to their rugged origins.

There are three primary types of strainers you will see behind a bar: the Julep strainer; the Hawthorn strainer and the Fine Mesh strainer.

Recipes dating back to 1862 from Jerry Thomas – widely viewed as the original bartender – show “The Professor” straining drinks off the ice using a Caster spoon. Until then, the Caster Spoon had a large bowl with many holes designed to sift caster sugar over foods. But after Thomas’ fateful decision, bar-specific Caster Spoons were created and eventually became the Julep Strainer.

Over years of use, bartenders continually improved the Julep strainer, and in 1889 someone fitted a spring around the edge so it could fit into any mixer and it became the Hawthorn Strainer.

Like the Caster Spoon, barkeeps appropriated the Fine Mesh Strainer from the kitchen. It’s a common partner in conjunction with the Hawthorn Strainer when clarity is essential.

Like strainers, bar spoons also evolved from the primordial toddy-stick used to crush and mix ingredients. Modern bar spoons come in a wide range of styles many equipped with a multi-purpose option on the opposing side of the spoon itself. Secondary uses vary from muddling to layering to lifting, but the primary use is mixing with ice, so the best spoon to use is the one that spins the smoothest in your hand. The technique can be tricky to master. Place the back of the spoon on the inside of your mixing glass and circle the glass continuously while keeping connection between the spoon and glass. An ideal stir is smooth and silent and rotates the ice graciously.

Get started by making a delicious Mint Julep and use the Julep strainer properly in your cocktail to hold the ice back while you enjoy the ice-cold minty tipple. For a delicious switch, use Kuleana Nanea Rum instead of whiskey.

Rum Mint Julep

2 oz. Kuleana Nanea Rum 8-10 Mint Leaves .25 oz. Simple syrup

Gently press mint to bottom of Julep cup, pour syrup and rum over the top and stir lightly. Top the glass with crushed ice then lightly stir and place your Julep strainer spoon-side down over top of ice on the top of your glass. For a beautiful and fragrant display, garnish with mint and powdered sugar on the top.

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