You can think of mixology kind of like cooking. The basic concept is similar: combine measured ingredients to create something pleasing to the eye and tasty to the mouth. Like cooking, mixology is about much more than simply mixing ingredients. A good mixologist has a talent for creating balanced drinks and, like any good chef, needs essential equipment to do it well. One example of these basic mixology tools is the cocktail muddler.
What is a cocktail muddler?
When cooking, you might use a pestle to ground particular ingredients, like herbs, spices, avocado, and so on. You can think of a cocktail muddler as a similar tool for bartenders or home bar hobbyists.
A cocktail muddler is a long thin object with a flat head that may or may not contain grooves or ridges. It is usually around the same length as your typical mixing glass, perfect for reaching the bottom with ease.
What is a cocktail muddler used for?
Similar to the pestle, a cocktail muddler is used to ground or combine cocktail ingredients that will be included in your drink of choice, such as:
- Different fruits
- Fruit and sugar
- Mint and syrup
Usually, a cocktail muddler is used to combine wet ingredients, finely grind them, or for those ingredients that need to have their flavours mix well with the liquid.
What are cocktail muddlers made from?
You can find muddlers in a few different materials, including wood, plastic, and stainless steel.
A wooden muddler is popular with bartenders but less hygienic than plastic or stainless steel options, as it’s harder to clean and requires a bit of extra effort to wash and dry immediately after use, or else risk bacteria and mould growing.
Stainless steel muddlers, on the other hand, are usually dishwasher-friendly, easy to wipe clean and generally longer lasting because they’re easy to care for.
If you choose a muddler with a grooved head, you’ll likely find this is made from nylon, which is a long-lasting and non-biodegradable material.
How to use a cocktail muddler
The right way to use a cocktail muddler might seem pretty straightforward and you’d be forgiven for thinking you simply put the ingredients you need to muddle into a cocktail shaker or mixing glass and start mashing.
In reality, the point of a cocktail muddler is to grind the ingredients in the right way to retain the flavour and release the most important parts.
To do this, you’re better off gently pressing and turning the muddle into the ingredients a handful of times.
The need to muddle ingredients without crushing them is the reason for the grooved head we mentioned earlier, this avoids breaking the leaves as you muddle.
As a beginner in mixology, you can follow these guidelines to make sure you’re muddling properly.
Fun fact: the first version of a cocktail muddler was the ‘toddy stick’, used in the 18th century to break up sugar and grind spices.
Which cocktails require the use of a muddler?
The Mojito is well known for being the perfect cocktail for muddling. However, there are quite a few cocktails that include fruits, herbs and other ingredients that are best muddled for releasing those intense flavours.
So, if you’re partial to any of the below, you should definitely add a muddler to your collection of mixology tools.
- Old Fashioned
- Whiskey Smash
- Kiwi Martini
- Fruit Punch Lemonade
- Pomegranate Margarita
- Mint Julep
Ready to get started with the art of cocktail mixing? Aside from the cocktail muddler we’ve discussed today, there are other mixology tools you’ll need. Two of the most important are the cocktail jigger and finding the best cocktail shaker for your bar.
Continue with our Mixology 101 series for beginners to learn more about different mixology tools and why you need them.
READ NEXT: Choosing a Cocktail Jigger for Your Bar