Hawthorn Strainer

Not for straining hawthorns

The hawthorn strainer put to good use in its most usual and popular function


Unsurprisingly, many people, on first encountering this unusual and bizarre-looking utensil are left puzzled and confused as to what its possible use in the kitchen - or, let's face it, anywhere else - could be. Looking like the illegitimate child of a whisk and a teapot stand, the strange appearance of the hawthorn strainer is in fact the inevitable consequence of its design fitting its specific purpose so precisely. The hawthorn strainer is a tool used solely for the purpose of straining chunky bits out of liquids - and in its purest sense, for straining the ice from gin & tonic.

Knowing that, you might easily thus be misled into thinking that, according to its name, the original purpose of the hawthorn strainer must have been straining hawthorn juice. An easy mistake to make, especially given the large number of bits likely to be present in hawthorn juice. But - and not just because the prospect of anyone drinking hawthorn juice, bits notwithstanding, is too horrible a concept to fully appreciate - that is simply not correct. The utensil is, in fact, a very modern device, invented and perfected in the late 1930s by Professor Wilbur Cartwright Plunkington-Hawthorn while researching polar survival equipment for the ill-conceived 1939 British bicycle expedition to the North Pole.

Plunkington-Hawthorn, best known as the inventor of the sub-zero gramophone and the polar smoking jacket, carried out extensive study of the drinks cabinets taken by Scott and Byrd to the Antarctic, seeking to modify their oak-inlaid-with-walnut-and-rosewood-panelling design to fit the back of one of the expedition's bicycles. During his work he established the essential need for a strainer suitable for separating polar ice from gin & tonic mixing glasses subjected to temperatures as low as -40°C, and that could also be readily handled wearing sheepskin mittens, so as to partially alleviate the need for the entire expedition team to grow massive, ridiculous-looking moustaches.

After five years of research, the Plunkington-Hawthorn Strainer (Gin & Tonic (Polar Use)) Model A was produced. Unfortunately, because of a combination of circumstances including the outbreak of the Second World War, and the Professor's untimely death while designing a front bicycle light suitable for calming angry polar bears, none of the expedition's equipment was properly field tested, and the hawthorn strainer is the only of the professor's creations to have made its way into general use, albeit that modern devices are considerably smaller and not normally practical for straining containers of gin & tonic greater than ten litres in volume.

The hawthorn strainer is far from ideal as a substitute for other kitchen utensils
Use this utensil to make Gin & Tonic, the perfect accompaniment to all of the Ready, Steady, Chuck! dishes.



  • use the hawthorn strainer to strain bits, such as ice, out of drinks, such as gin & tonic;
  • keep a hawthorn strainer handy if you plan on making a lot of gin & tonics.


  • use the hawthorn strainer to strain bits from containers of liquid over 10 litres in capacity;
  • use the hawthorn strainer to strain the chunks out of chunkies. That misses the point entirely;
  • use the hawthorn strainer as a substitute for any other utensil. The hawthorn strainer is so perfectly designed for its purpose that it simply cannot fulfil any other;
  • attempt an expedition to the north pole on a bicycle. There are lots of very good reasons why this is a bad idea. But if you do, don't modify your bicycle by fitting it with an oak-inlaid-with-walnut-and-rosewood-panelling drinks cabinet.

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