Years ago, the use of fresh ingredients in cocktails were popularly appreciated by the people. Today, it is considered a norm. The integration of such ingredients in cocktails is made possible through a process called muddling. Muddling is done with a tool called “muddler” and the ingredients are pressed with it to extract the juices and oils. Then, the liquors, sweeteners and ice are added to complete the drink. But, muddlers are more than just pressing juices out. Keep reading to find out more about its uses.
Pestle is to the kitchen while muddler is to the bar. The pestle works with the mortar and both are made from hard materials like granite or ceramic for the purpose of grinding and crushing spices to make them into a powder or a paste. Muddlers are a bit different because their goal is to just bruise or press to collect a part from an ingredient. It is also used for more than just spices so the amount of pressure applied to each is varied. The following are some ingredients and the uses or purpose of the muddler for them.
1. Herbs - Some of the most commonly used herbs in cocktails are mint, rosemary, lavender and basil. Herbs such as these are muddled so they will release essential oils and doing so would require the lightest pressure to be applied so as to not crush them and make them bitter. Herbs provide a pleasant aroma to the drink. They won’t give much flavor but they help in accentuating the fruit flavors mixed in the drink.
2. Fruits - Fruits are muddled to extract their juice to provide flavor and color to the drink. For example, a whiskey sour is made with bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white. If a muddled fruit is added, say, peaches, then it becomes a peach whiskey sour. Citrus fruits dominate in cocktails, because not only do they provide juice but also oils from their peels. Fruits are not as delicate as herbs because they require force to be muddled and you don’t have to worry of them getting bitter, except for citrus peels which can turn bitter when overmudled.
2. Vegetables - Same with fruits, vegetables such as cucumber and beet also provide flavor to cocktails as well as color. Although, they can be tougher to muddle than fruits so they would have to be diced to small pieces first. A muddler with teeth is appropriate for vegetables so they will be pressed easier.
3. Spices - Spices such as ginger, cardamom and peppercorns provide a kick to the cocktails. Despite being hard ingredients, they are to be muddled gently because when they are muddled too much, they can overpower the cocktail.
4. Sugar Cubes - Some cocktails like the old-fashioned and mojito require sugar instead of simple syrup as the sweetener. With this, sugar cubes are muddled so it will dissolve faster when the liquids are added. Unless sugar is added with other ingredients like mint, over muddling is not a problem.
5. Ice - You don’t really muddle ice, but rather, crack it into small pieces. This is the other use of the muddler other than pressing ingredients. A wooden muddler is used for cracking ice so it would fit tall and narrow glasses.
Benefits of Having a Cocktail Muddler
- Makes fresh cocktails - Ingredients are muddled seconds before the liquors and other ingredients are added to complete the cocktail, making it taste and smell fresh.
- Good for health-conscious people - Nowadays, people are more careful with their health. Cocktails made with natural and fresh fruits, herbs or other ingredients are preferred than using manufactured ones.
- Infuses flavors - Muddling fruits and herbs will allow the liquor to be infused with its flavors, making it taste more integrated and flavorsome.
- Completes bartending tools - Muddlers are one of the most important tools every bar must have so any bar without it or anything that can function the same with it is not really complete.
- Versatility - Not only do muddlers extract juices and oils to provide flavor and aroma but also crack ice into small pieces as mentioned above and can sometimes stir drinks.
A muddler is just one bartending tool but it serves many different purposes for different kinds of ingredients. It is a simple tool but it can’t be simply overlooked. To learn how to use it, check this article and practice using it by making these awesome cocktails. And here are the muddler’s buddies in the bar, the other most important bartending tools.