Much ado about muddlers

Muddled about muddlers? You are not alone. I’ve been making some beverages lately that really require muddling, but I don’t have an official muddler.

Oops, sorry — have I muddled you already?

Muddling: This technique of smashing ingredients into the bottom off a cocktail glass may have begun with the quintessential cocktail, the Old Fashioned. When preparing an OF, you drop a sugar cube into a highball glass, add a smidge of club soda and a few drops of bitters — and, with some recipes, a maraschino cherry — and crush everything lightly with the back of a spoon before topping it all off with ice cubes, a good quality whiskey, and a garnish of orange slice, lemon twist, and a couple of cherries.

It’s the dog days of summer now, which I consider to be Mojito Season, and mojitos require proper muddling. A muddler is basically a stick that you use to smash those essential ingredients in the bottom of the glass. Why muddle? Because it releases some fresh flavors to the liquid that will brighten your drink to something far beyond the ordinary.

There is a wide range of prices where muddlers are concerned — anywhere from $8 to $40 or more. You’ll find them made of pretty much every material, from plastic and metal to wood and marble. There are two types — flat and textured — providing the ability to do everything from gently bruise to coarsely crush the ingredients. Mint leaves don’t take much muddling or you’ll end up with a minty paste in the bottom of your glass, but a chunky slice of orange needs a little more work to get those essential oils flowing.

Since I don’t have a proper muddler yet, I looked through my kitchen for some eligible substitutes:

Chopstick — point is too small. Wisks have nice bottoms to their handles, but it’s a little hard to crush fruit by holding the wisk end. Crab hammer is too big for a standard glass. Potato masher has the same issue as both the wisk and the hammer, depending on which end you use. Wooden spoon handles — bingo. One is rounded, the other has a point, offering me different options depending on the ingredients.

Ready to muddle? Check back tomorrow for our weekly feature, The Friday Tipple, for a delicious recipe to get your weekend started right. See you then!

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Yay, I feel like I passed some sort of way-better-than-Dante quiz by immediately thinking “wooden spoon, wooden spoon!” Now I want a mojito. Shoot.

  2. […] you read our previous post about muddlers, then get ready to muddle. This drink is fast and easy to assemble. I prefer to use a gold rum like […]

  3. […] the rosemary in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and bruise it with a muddling stick. Pour in the gin or vodka and let sit for 15 minutes. Splash a bit of absinthe into a chilled […]

  4. […] can use a house-hold item like a wooden spoon, which is the author of the Good Booze blog’s muddler-substitute of choice. Muddlers can look very different and are commonly made from wood, metal, or […]


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