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Muddlers

Wednesday, 13 October 2010 | Tags: ,

Fresh ingredients are a big deal these days (as they very well should be), but it doesn't just apply to what you eat. Fresh fruit and herbs in your beverages can add an incredible flavour to your mix. We test some muddlers, an essential bar tool for infusing your drinks with these fabulous flavours.

The Basics

  • A muddler is a bartending tool used to crush cocktail ingredients like mint, ginger, and various fruit. Its purpose is to help release the fresh flavours and essential oils into the liquid.

  • Most bars have an assortment of muddlers to perform various tasks.

  • A classic muddler design is a short rod with a slightly flared, bulbous end, allowing the bartender to crush and grind ingredients against the side and bottom of the glass.

  • Ingredients are crushed before pouring any liquid or ice in. Adding liquid and ice after muddling creates a very intense, rich flavour.

  • Muddlers are typically used to make drinks like mojitos and lemon drops, giving these drinks a more complex taste.

  • Muddlers can be used to stir drinks, and also to juice fruits like lemons, limes and oranges.

Shopping Tips

  • Most commonly, muddlers are made of wood, which doesn’t react with the ingredients. However, if not properly cleaned, they can harbour harmful bacteria. It can also stain if you’re crushing blackberries or herbs.

    • Wood muddlers should be non-lacquered as any special finish like this can potentially flake off into your drinks.
  • Other muddlers can be found made of glass, ceramic, stainless steel, or bone. Glass and ceramic aren’t durable, but they are easy to clean and usually dishwasher-safe, as is stainless steel. Bone can also harbour bacteria, and as with wood, may need to be oiled occasionally.

  • Glass, ceramic and stainless steel muddlers can be hard on your bar glasses. Be gentle with them so you don’t end up chipping the inside of your glass and serving up unwanted ingredients.

  • Ideally, look for a muddler with a loop or hole near the top so that you can hook it on a rack and avoid having the muddling end come in contact with unwanted flavours or mixtures.

  • Choose a muddler that is long enough to fit into a tall glass or martini shaker and still fit comfortably in your hand. You don’t want your knuckles rapping on the glass rim as you crush ingredients.

  • Look for a tool that offers a good grip and a slightly heavy feel.

  • The muddling end of the tool is a matter of preference. Some like the waffled ends because they make a little less work, while others think the waffled ends are too rough on the ingredients.

  • As long as you have good leverage and length, you don’t need to use much force to muddle your fruits and herbs.

TEST CRITERIA

We took three muddlers to a bar and recruited Bartender Thomas to help us put them to the test. Our products:

  • Danesco (stainless steel, textured end): $19.98
. . Amazon.ca
  • RSVP Endurance (stainless steel, Santoprene (rubber-like) end): $16.98
. . Amazon.ca Amazon.com
  • Kotobuki (wood body, smooth ends): $5.99
. .

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars)

Muddling Test

We mixed mojitos with mint, and also mojitos with cucumber and watermelon. To really test our muddlers, we made sauza mango gingerade, with pieces of crushed ginger root.

  • The wood Kotobuki was way too short for our glasses. We kept banging our knuckles on the rim and it was uncomfortable to use.

  • The Danesco stainless steel with the textured end worked well, but we had to be gentle with it so as not to damage the glass.

  • The RSVP stainless steel with the rubberized end was nice and long. It was easy to use and comfortable to hold. In the ginger test, it didn’t quite work the tough root as much as the Danesco.

OUR TOP PICK

Muddling is definitely a lot of work! While we were fans of the all stainless steel Danesco because it really worked the tougher fruits and the ginger. However, for our mojitos and the more delicate ingredients, we preferred the RSVP Endurance muddler, with its comfortable grip and long length.

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