What is a muddler?
Well, according to the Oxford English dictionary it is:
“the action or process of mixing a drink or stirring an ingredient into a drink. The muddling helps ensure that all the flavours are well blended”
Muddlers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and a variety of different materials. In essence, they all do the same job – crushing fresh fruit and herbs to get the most out of their flavour. It’s a must have in any bartender’s kit and a tool that is easy to master with a bit of practice.
What cocktails use a muddler?
The classic example which springs to mind is the Mojito. Lightly muddling the ingredients brings out the flavours of lime and mint for a refreshing drink.
There is also the Caipirinha, the Old Fashioned and many more.
Choosing a muddler
Now it’s easy to get lost here. With such a variety of styles, shapes, and sizes you might wonder which is best for you.
The classic wooden muddler is a choice favourite with cocktail bars as they are durable, versatile and can be used to crack ice cubes into smaller pieces.
The only downside?
They don’t fare well in the dishwasher and require prompt cleaning after use to prevent stains from berries and fruit.
For this reason, many opt to use plastic or stainless-steel muddlers, as they are easier to maintain and often come with rubber or plastic teeth and ridges to streamline the process of breaking fruit down.
Muddling Without A Muddler
Obviously, a bartender’s muddler is the best option. If you want to add to the home bar, we recommend this copper muddler.
Whichever muddler you buy, make sure it’s not been varnished… eventually this will degrade, and little bits will end up in your drinks.
If that’s not for you then there are a few standard kitchen tools that will work just as well. Try using a rolling pin or a pestle from the pestle and mortar set.
Using a muddler
Here at The Society, we pride ourselves on producing high quality drinks, and with a bit of practice, you will too. Below are a few tips to get you on your way to becoming a master muddler.
Select your ingredients. Citrus fruits, sugar and herbs are a common starting point for many famous cocktails. Place these in a mixing glass, or a durable glass of your choice (fragile glassware such as wine glasses are not recommended for the process).
Holding your muddler. With your dominant hand, pick up the muddler using a reverse grip (overhanded, as displayed in the photo below) and place it into the glass over your ingredients.
Push, twist, lift and repeat. Put a reasonable amount of pressure on the ingredients taking care not to ‘over muddle’.
The time you’ll need to spend doing this will vary based on your ingredients, but for softer citrus fruits, berries, and herbs we recommend repeating the process around 6 times (until your see a juicy paste forming in the base of the glass).
You might need to do this more if you’re working with tougher ingredients like fresh ginger or pineapple. Over muddling certain ingredients can be counterproductive by releasing bitter oils and flavours through damaging the skins or completely breaking down herbs.
Using A Muddler: Our Expert Tips
1) Always start with sugar if your using granulated products over syrups. As you’re likely to be adding citrus ingredients such as lemon or lime juice, this will aid the speed in which the sugar will dissolve.
2) If you can, always squeeze your limes and lemons into the glass prior to muddling. This will make them softer and easier to muddle.
3) Add mint and herbs AFTER your citrus ingredients. For example, it can be good practice to add mint just after you muddle your lime and sugar in a mojito.
This will help gain a good texture throughout the drink without those pesky straw sized pieces caused by over muddling ruining a perfectly good sip.
4) Clap your herbs. To bring out the oils and enhance the aroma of certain herbs like mint, ball them up in your hand and ‘clap’ them before adding to your glass to bring out the most of their flavour.
Remember these tips and you’ll be sipping a fresh, homemade mojito in no time.
Inspired to make some cocktails? Try out our cocktail recipes in our Clubhouse section.