A muddler is one of the basic tools used behind a bar. Basically, it is intended for extracting the flavors and aromas from delicate herbs and spices as well as the juice from fresh fruit through a process called muddling. There will be a huge difference when a cocktail has muddled ingredients since the flavors are more pronounced.
Aside from being a rudimentary tool, it is perhaps the oldest one, dating back to the 18th century. At that time, it was known as a toddy stick and was used for more than one purpose. People used it to break down sugar cubes, crush spices and stir drinks. Eventually, the ice industry started to commercialize ice in the early 19th century and people opted to use syrups as sweeteners rather than sugar. With this, the uses of the toddy stick thinned out. Even so, its evolution did not make it obsolete and it still proves to be a crucial tool in making great cocktails.
How to choose a muddler?
Most muddlers today don’t look far off from the toddy stick. They still resemble the miniature baseball bat look. But, new models have been developed since it was first created and some may argue that they are better than the basic one. When you are thinking of buying a muddler, here are the things to consider to make your bartending endeavors easier and suitable for you.
Back then, muddlers or the toddy stick were only made from wood. Now, it is available in stainless steel, plastic, and bamboo. Each of the four is great in their own ways but can still have flaws. Most bars are equipped with wooden muddlers because they are easier to use especially when muddling delicate herbs like mint leaves.
Another reason why bartenders like to have a wooden muddler is that it is essentially the original muddler and perhaps they like to be traditional and pay homage to its origins. Still, wooden muddlers require higher maintenance as they can only be hand washed and occasionally need to be applied with oil to prolong their usage. On the other hand, stainless steel and plastic muddlers are great for muddling fruits and are dishwasher-safe. On busy days, this feature is very helpful in lessening your work. Bamboo muddlers are also rising to popularity nowadays. They are like the wood ones and are actually a great alternative as they promote sustainability.
As mentioned, most wooden muddlers still follow the baseball bat shape but the same could not be said for the stainless steel and plastic ones. Most of them have straight handles with a wider and flat end. Some also have handles that are thinner in the middle with one rounded end and the other flat. When choosing, pick something that is easy for you to grasp so your hands are comfortable rather than hurt in the process of muddling.
From the feel of the surface to the weight of the muddler, one can already tell what material it is made of. Stainless steel ones are heavier and smooth but be careful with these because there are instances that your hands will slip if you don’t get a good hold of it. Plastic ones are not as heavy as the stainless steel muddlers but they also have a smooth feel. Both stainless steel and plastic muddlers tend to have teeth on one end, which look like a pointed waffle iron which is great for muddling fruits.
Wooden muddlers can either be varnished or not. While varnished muddlers are smoother and prevent stains on its surface, bartenders steer clear from them because the varnish will eventually chip and will be mixed in the cocktail thereby compromising its taste. So, it is better to spend extra time washing the stain from an unvarnished muddler than having a weird taste in the drink.
Basically, the shaker glass or tin is the mortar and the muddler is the pestle in bartending. Muddlers generally range from 6 to 8 inches but some can be longer. If you have a short muddler, you would have to use a short glass to pair it with, this is okay if you’re using a rocks glass. But, when you are muddling from a mixing glass or shaker pint, then opt for a longer one. What matters is that the muddler can reach the bottom of the glass without having to hurt your knuckles.
Some have simple looks while others have sleek designs. Stainless steel muddlers also tend to have rubber ends so handling herbs won’t be as harsh. Some are also designed to be used at both ends. Style is a matter of preference so choose one that suits you and your needs best.
Muddling is the key to make your favorite cocktails such as the Mojito, Old fashioned, Mint julep, and more. Choosing one is not such a hard job when you know what to look for. Some may be more inclined to its function and others with its style. You may opt for the original design or the modern ones, it’s really up to you. What matters is that a timeless tool such as the muddler would be chosen and used according to a bartender’s and the drinkers’ needs. If you’re ready to pick out your ideal muddler, you can check out this list. And you certainly would want to learn how to use it, so do visit this article.