We may not all be Tom Cruise in “Cocktail,” with sexy bottle flipping moves, but if you do want to impress people with a delicious signature drink at your next garden gathering or party, a muddler is an essential tool for you. Muddling allows you to add fresh home-grown flavor to any beverage of your choice.
What is a Muddler?
A muddler is a wooden tool, shaped sort of like a miniature club, that is used to mash aromatics at the bottom of a cocktail glass. Muddlers have a specially designed tip in order to crush, or gently bruise, the item in the bottom of your glass without pulverizing it. Some muddlers have a flat tip, while others are rounded or pointed. Each one serves a different purpose. The Roost Hemingway Muddlers are sold as a set of three, which equips you with a muddler for every application, from mint leaves to delicate berries to pink peppercorns.
How to Use a Muddler
A muddler is intended to be used with a gentle wrist twisting action, rather than an up-and-down plunger action. Simply place the item you wish to muddle in the bottom of your glass of choice, then gently press with the muddler, softly grinding and mashing the item along the bottom and sides of the glass. Continue with a gentle pressing and turning action for about a count of 10. If you are muddling both herbs and fruit, muddle the herbs in the glass first, then add the fruit. Or if you are muddling herbs alone, try adding a sprinkle of salt, sugar, or brown sugar. The coarseness will help to abrade the surface of the leaves without complete shredding them.
What To Muddle
Get creative! You can muddle all sorts of things into your cocktails, and you can muddle several different items in layers to create a unique combination of flavors. Here are some combos that we love:
Recommended Muddled Cocktail Recipes
We’ve been very busy testing out cocktails with muddled fresh herbs and fruits lately. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it. Our favorite recipes are those with just a few simple ingredients, and fresh flavors that we can pluck right out of the yard.
|Recipe from theKitchn - makes one mojito1 1/2 ounces Stoli Citros vodka
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 or 5 fresh shiso leaves
1 teaspoon of zested yuzu rind
juice of 1/4 lime
Tear the shiso leaves into large pieces (reserving one whole leaf for a garnish) and muddle with the brown sugar and yuzu rind in a mixing glass. Add the vodka, lime juice, and a few ice cubes and stir. Pour into an old-fashioned glass and top up with club soda and more ice as necessary. Garnish with a shiso leaf.
Cucumber Mint Gin & Tonic
|Recipe from Dirt and Martinis - makes one gin & tonic2 slices cucumber
3 mint sprigs
3 ounces gin
4 ounces Q organic tonic water
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
Muddle the slice of cucumber and 2 sprigs of mint in a highball glass. Fill the glass with ice. Add 3 ounces gin, 4 ounces tonic and 1/2 ounce of lime juice. Stir and garnish with a cucumber wheel.
Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned
|Recipe from Tasting Table - makes one old fashioned1 tablespoon vanilla-bean sugar
3 dashes orange bitters
1 orange peel
1 large ice cube
2 ounces high-quality bourbon
Vanilla bean for garnish (optional)
Combine the vanilla sugar, orange bitters, orange peel and a splash of water in the bottom of a glass. Use a muddler to crush the sugar into the rest of the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Add one large ice cube and pour the bourbon over the ice. Stir for 15 seconds, then garnish with vanilla bean, if desired. Serve immediately.
|Recipe from Martha Stewart Living - makes 8 cocktails1 1/2 pints fresh raspberries (about 4 cups)
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
6 large sprigs (about 2 ounces) fresh mint, basil, or both, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup vodka
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
1 bottle (750 mL) Prosecco or Lambrusco
Reserve 16 berries. Muddle the remaining berries, the sugar, and herbs in a large glass bowl. Stir in vodka, lemon juice, and Prosecco. Pour mixture through a sieve into a pitcher, pressing through; discard solids. Serve over ice. Squeeze 2 berries into each drink. Garnish with herb sprigs.
For More Inspiration
For more great fruit and herb muddled cocktail ideas, check out Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist. You’ll find all kinds of awesome ways to take ingredients right from the herb garden to the cocktail glass.
Want to grow your own herbs, but not sure where to start?
Check out this blog post, Grow Your Own Cocktail Garden, for tips on how to grow an easy cocktail themed garden, plus additional great recipes. Remember, you don’t need a huge plot of land to grow a garden. Even a small pot or a recycled coffee can is a prime spot for planting an easy herb, such as mint, basil, or cilantro.