Originally designed in the late 1800s and patented as a ‘julep strainer’, what we would come to know as the Hawthorne strainer actually coined the name Hawthorne from the Hawthorne Cafe, a bar in Boston in the USA. The strainer has always been a bartenders favourite – designed to instantly fit almost any glass, the coil which acts as the main strainer can be quickly and easily released – allowing it to be cleaned in a jiffy! This became a very popular feature in its early years and seen as a drastic improvement on the strainer that came before, the julep strainer.
By the time the Hawthorne Strainer was actually established and the patent had been filled, strainers had already been around for a couple of decades – the idea for them supposedly originating from the Chinese tea strainers. As technology advanced to a level that allowed the consistent supply of clean and high quality ice, all year round, strainers advanced alongside – now a bar tool that had become a necessity.
History dictates that the Hawthorne as we know it has evolved through many different designs, to become the recognisable strainer that we see in almost every bar today. For example the name Hawthorne wasn’t even printed on the original strainer and one of the most useful additions to the Hawthorne strainer didn’t come about until the late 20th century – this was of course the addition of the ‘ears’ or prongs around the edge of the outside of the strainer.
We tend to stock two versions of the Hawthorne strainer – the difference being the amount of ears or prongs, there is the 2 pronged version and also the 4 pronged version. The addition of the prongs to the Hawthorne Strainer provided an extra level of stability and ease of use as the prongs hook around the edge of the cocktail shaker or glass in most cases. Although some bartenders would prefer to have a greater freedom of movement with the strainer, particularly flair bartenders, this is where the 2 pronged version is more popular.
We manufacture our Hawthorne Strainers from a very high quality stainless steel, so you will find the prongs very hard to bend, and the spring and all of the components very easy to clean and keep in good working order.
Outside of an antique market, you’ll rarely find the perforations spelling out Hawthorne on a Hawthorne strainer these days, but the solutions provided by the original are still in use at nearly every bar in the world. Although the Hawthorne Cafe in Boston is no more, the strainer and in particular its brand live on – and will do, most likely, for many years to come. Even to this day, any strainer with a spring is still referred to by many as a Hawthorne Strainer, even though most of the time it is not – this is the true power of good branding and even better design.