To the cocktail novice, double straining a drink can be a bit of a balancing act. Ensuring that your fine strainer picks up the small shards of ice, bits of fruit and other solids that can find their way past the essential Hawthorne strainer can be a battle of coordination.
But what if you could eliminate the juggling and the need for two separate tools and instead, have one device that did both jobs? This is what New York bartender George Carney has created with his new product, the Kilpatrick Strainer.
“Now you can be faster because you can strain multiple drinks at once. You are going to be more efficient, and it is going to save you time and space. It is just about streamlining the operating and doing it better,” said Carney.
Now it’s not often that advancements are made in the realm of bar tools. The shakers, jiggers, muddlers and strainers that we use today are designs that have been around since the days when Jerry Thomas was throwing drinks in New York in the late-1800s.
But when you hold the Kilpatrick Strainer in your hand, you realise that this is a tool that has the potential to change the game. Utilising the fine mesh from a tea strainer and the body and springs of a Hawthorne strainer, it is an apparatus that efficiently and effectively integrates two tools in one.
“Once people see it,” said Carney, “everyone has been having a ‘holy shit’ moment and asking why hasn’t this been done yet. That’s been pretty cool.
“Honestly, everyone seems to have taken a liking to it. It works, and it does the job that I set out for it to do, so whatever happens from here will be positive. If it is not the ultimate solution at least, it’s started the conversation, and whatever comes after it, I would love to see it.”
Five years in the making, the idea for the Strainer came about when Carney was managing a rooftop bar in Manhattan. His beverage director, Ted Kilpatrick, told him about this idea he had for a fine bar strainer. And with that, the seed was planted. Carney couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Now while the simplicity and utility of the Kilpatrick Strainer is what makes it such a thing of beauty, getting it there wasn’t easy.
“I was determined to make it happen,” Carney said. “I thought ‘that is a great idea, I am going to go ahead and make it.’ So I prototyped and prototyped and it was like putting together a puzzle, figuring out each step of the way and getting connected with people that could help make the idea come alive.
“So it was originally Ted’s idea, but then I went out and did all the legwork for it. I named it after him. He has a family, he’s just had a kid and moved back to Boston to open his own restaurant, so it wasn’t a focus for him, but I just believed in it. I knew it could work and that it would be beneficial.”
Even during the Kickstarter process, Carney was refining the design. “The window was probably like half the size, so I expanded the surface area. One of the significant changes was to increase the surface area to allow for even more liquid to flow through at once.
“Once I saw the different techniques that bartenders were using, as I was going around and having people test it out and play with it. I realised we needed to tweak it a bit more. Just watching how people were pouring, I knew I had to update it, to make it more accommodating.”
But getting to the final design wasn’t an easy road. Carney talks at length about the back and forth nature of taking an idea from initial idea to finished product. “It was maddening, maddening, knowing in your head what it could be and that it could work, yet having to climb the mountain day after day and having it in your head all the time,” he said.
“There was such a sense of relief I got once I finally launched the Kickstarter, and I was able to put it out there for people to see. When you are designing products and building out a business, there isn’t much to show until you have something like a website and a product to point to.
If you’ve got an idea for a product, I encourage everyone to go through a process. There is nothing more rewarding than bringing something to life. I enjoyed it, although it’s almost masochistic in a way. This industry, this job specifically, really helped me tap into my creative side, and it’s allowed me to find a different angle to form a career within a career.
The Kilpatrick strainer is available from November – for more information go to poormanskitchen.com