Why do we double strain?

Answered by John Watkins

As an expert sommelier and brewer, I can share with you the reasons why double straining, also known as fine-straining, is a common technique used in cocktail making. Double straining is employed when a cocktail contains solid ingredients that you do not want to include in the final drink. By running the drink through two strainers, you ensure a smooth and visually appealing cocktail.

The first strainer used in double straining is usually a Hawthorne strainer, which fits securely over the mixing tin or glass. This type of strainer has a coiled spring that helps to hold back larger pieces of ice and solid ingredients, such as fruit pulp, herbs, or seeds. The Hawthorne strainer is effective in catching most of these larger solids, but it may not capture finer particles that can still affect the texture and appearance of the cocktail.

To address this, the second strainer used in double straining is a fine-mesh strainer. This strainer has a tightly woven mesh that helps to filter out smaller particles, resulting in a clearer and smoother drink. The fine-mesh strainer is typically placed over the cocktail glass or another container to catch any remaining solids that were not captured by the Hawthorne strainer.

There are several reasons why double straining is a valuable technique in cocktail making. Firstly, it ensures a more refined and enjoyable drinking experience by removing any unwanted solid ingredients. For example, if you are making a cocktail that includes muddled fruits or herbs, double straining will eliminate any chunks or bits that can be off-putting when sipping the drink. This creates a smoother texture and enhances the overall taste.

Double straining also contributes to the visual appeal of a cocktail. When you remove any solids that may cloud the drink or create sediment, the resulting cocktail will have a clean and professional appearance. This is particularly important when serving in a high-end or upscale setting, where presentation plays a significant role in the overall experience.

Furthermore, double straining can help improve the longevity of a cocktail. By removing solid ingredients that can deteriorate over time, such as fruit pulp or herbs, the drink will maintain its quality for a longer period. This is especially relevant when making large batches of cocktails for events or parties, as the drinks can be prepared in advance without worrying about the degradation of the ingredients.

In my personal experience as a sommelier and brewer, I have found double straining to be an essential technique in cocktail making. It allows me to create drinks that are not only visually appealing but also deliver a consistent flavor profile. By removing any unwanted solids, I can ensure that every sip of the cocktail is enjoyable and free from any undesirable textures or tastes.

To summarize, double straining is used in cocktail making to eliminate solid ingredients that are not meant to be part of the final drink. By employing both a Hawthorne strainer and a fine-mesh strainer, cocktail makers can achieve a smooth texture, enhance the visual presentation, and prolong the quality of the cocktail. This technique is crucial for creating refined and enjoyable drinking experiences, particularly in upscale settings.