Just saying the word muddler is fun, but making cocktails that require muddling are even more fun! I’m talking Mojitos, Caipirinha, Mint Juleps, sometimes even the Old-fashioned. Time to pick the perfect muddler for you!
Some of the most popular cocktails in the world are muddled, which means you definitely need a muddler as one of your Home Bar Essentials.
What is a muddler?
What’s a muddler you may ask? Many compare it to the chef’s pestle without the mortar, but I think of it as the massage therapist of home bar tools.
If you’re looking to get every last essence and oil out of a fruit or an herb and into your cocktail, then the muddler is your tool. It’s all about the gentle, but firm, touch. It’s really easy to use and fun to whip out at a party to wow your guest.
Where did the muddler come from?
Maybe not as much fun to say was toddy stick, the first generation of muddlers. An 18th C creation, the toddy stick was used to make, you guessed it, the hot toddy. It was the tool you needed to crush sugar or cinnamon or any spices, not then available in an easily pourable or shake-able form.
As cocktails became popular, the tool was used to crush even more sugar to make syrups, a crucial ingredient in early cocktail recipes. As drinks became more refined, so did bar equipment. The toddy stick morphed into the muddler we know now. It was no longer needed to crush ice and sugar, so its only extremely important use is for drawing out those wonderful fruit and herb essences in some of our favorite cocktails.
What muddler to use?
The most common muddlers are made of wood, but you can find them in stainless steel and plastic, as well as on the end of some barspoons. They usually are the length of your highball glass, cocktail shaker or mixing glass and about 19-25 cm long and 3 wide or 6 to 10 inches and about 1 inch wide.
I prefer a wood muddler, because I have never seen a great bartender use anything else. They come in loads of shapes and sizes, but here are a few things to remember before you decide.
- Wash them right away or they might stain, especially if you are crushing mint!
- Never put them in the dishwasher
Here are a few different styles of wooden muddler I can recommend:
Stainless steel and plastic muddlers
I’m lumping these together as they have the same cleaning requirements. Again, there are lots of different styles and looks.
- They can be more slippery in the hand than their wooden counterparts
- You can put them in the dishwasher
Here are a few different styles I can recommend:
How to muddle
The first rule is take it slowly! Don’t go in there all gangbusters! It’s about easing the oil or essence out of the fruit or herb, not bashing them on their heads. You don’t want to get any of the bitterness of the peel or pith.
- Muddle first – so do this before doing anything else in the cocktail recipe
- Add fruit to the bottom or your mixing vehicle be it drinking or mixing glass or shaker.
- Take your muddler in hand and gently press down on the aforementioned fruit.
- Repeat a few times and then continue to make those cocktails!