I remember reading an interesting blog thread a while back on Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s site regarding a bartender’s method of straining a drink. The point of discussion was on whether a bartender uses a strainer or whether they “crack the egg” <– which is slang for opening up the boston shaker just enough so the drink comes out but the ice is held back.

Of the replies from veteran bartenders, many spoke on points of etiquette (using a strainer) or speed (which method is faster), as well as keeping track of your tools (strainers get lost)… etc…. Missing from the discussion was a very compelling point and a somewhat inarguable difference between the two forms of straining.

  • Using a strainer takes ONE hand
  • “Cracking the egg” takes two hands (usually).

So what? This makes a huge difference to the number of drinks that can be strained at the same time. When a bartender can strain with a shaker in each hand (using a strainer) as opposed to only one shaker at a time (cracking the egg) then the number of drinks that one can make in a unit of time exponentially grows. In fact, we did a little test and here is the data:

This is the time it takes in seconds to strain ( y-axis) VS. the number of drinks made per shaker (x-axis). In other words, if you only make one drink, and you only need one shaker, the relative time difference is insignificant and will vary on a great number of things. But as the number of drinks goes up from 2 – 4 drinks, and you have to start using more than 1 shaker, there is no contest in speed. The use of the strainer is almost twice as fast.

The reason why this was missed in the Morgenthaler thread speaks to the irony of the situation. Most craft bartenders I know don’t make more than 1 drink per shaker so as to not imbalance the ice-to-spirit ratio and craft bartenders use strainers. The club/sports bar bartenders make as many drinks as possible in one shaker and they usually crack the egg. The effect of speed is so much more enhanced when coupling multiple drinks per shaker with using a strainer. That this is the less preferable way amongst most “fast” bartenders is ironic, and a point absent in the Morgenthaler thread.