It’s always good (where possible) to use fresh ingredients in your cocktails. And if you’re using herbs or fruit (for anything other than a garnish), you’ll probably be muddling them.
To muddle means to press the ingredients against the side of the glass or shaker tin with a muddler.
The muddler itself is really nothing more than a bartender’s pestle but is an essential bar tool designed to smash and mix cocktail ingredients.
Some of the most popular cocktails, including the caipirinha, mojito, and old-fashioned, are muddled.
Why You Want To Muddle
Muddling is the process of crushing fresh fruits and herbs to release their flavours and aromas into the drink.
A long bar tool usually made of wood or steel, a muddler can have either a flat bottom or teeth that help mash down any ingredient.
The juices, oils, and even the flesh of the fruit are released into the bottom of the glass for maximum flavour with each turn of the muddler.
Which Type Of Muddler
Basically, it all boils down to a choice between wood versus a dishwasher-safe material like plastic or metal, whether you want tooth grip or smooth, and what width and length.
A wooden muddler is a classic, they are simple but effective. The downside to wood is that it needs to be Stainless steel construction makes this muddler the most sanitary choice having no pores and is dishwasher safe.
It’s important not to get a vanished muddler. These muddlers may look great to start with, but it doesn’t take long before the varnish begins to chip (usually falling into your drink).
Whether the head has teeth or not comes down to personal taste. Some people feel that it shreds the herbs too much, others feel it gives exactly the right sort of mash.
It’s important that any muddler you use feels substantial enough in your hand. It shouldn’t be too heavy or too flimsy. Length is particularly important as you hands should not be hitting the lip of the glass or tin as you are working.
How To Muddle
The act of muddling is fairly straight-forward, but it’s easy to get wrong. If you exert too much force on the ingredients, they can become pulverized and release unwanted, bitter oils that contaminate your drink.
Sure, you may need to use a little force with some fruits and berries, as your aim is to extract the juice. But that said, you are not trying to take your aggressions out on them – if you want to release your anger, grab a mallet and a Lewis bag and take it on on your crushed ice, not your herbs and fruit.
A gentle muddle will release the oils in both the mint leaves and the lemon or lime peels.
So, Let’s Get Muddling
- Muddle ingredients in the bottom of your glass before adding ice.
- To prevent broken drinkware, use a sturdy drinking glass, or even better, use a mixing glass to muddle. If you do choose a thinner glass, proceed with extra caution.
- Hold the glass with your non-dominant hand while your dominant hand cups the top of the muddler in your palm, and then ground the muddler down with gentle, yet firm revolving movements.
- Avoid resting your palm on the side of the glass.
- Don’t slam your muddler into the glass. This can bruise and damage the ingredients or even break the glass, which is a mess no one wants.
- Don’t use overly large chunks of fruit. Wedge-sized pieces are the way to go.