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Muddling, Muddlers, and Muddled Drinks


birder53
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A bar around here uses muddled fruit in almost all there drinks. Kumquats, cucumbers, oranges, etc.. They technique leaves a little to be desired, however. Just a pint glass, wooden muddler, and half a glass of ice cubes, then they smash them with the muddler like they were crushing ice. End result is usually pleasant.

I often throw really ripe watermelon pieces in with a mojito in the summer. I use a bar spoon to rough up the mint leaves with the melon, sugar, and mint. Very pretty and tasty too, but that usually depends on the ripeness of the watermelon.

I suspect we'll see many more of these fruit/cosmo/mojito bits in the near future. Especially with the new line of "infused" vodkas creeping up in all the bars to remind people about real fruit.

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A bar around here uses muddled fruit in almost all there drinks.  Kumquats, cucumbers, oranges, etc..  The technique leaves a little to be desired, however.  Just a pint glass, wooden muddler, and half a glass of ice cubes, then they smash them with the muddler like they were crushing ice.

There's a special name for muddling with the ice (which I think is kind of useless). Can't remember what it is, though.

--

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It is sadly enough called the "Seattle Muddle". I think it was Gary Regan who first coined this term after seeing that everybody in Seattle seemed to be muddling their drinks like that.

Any chance I get, I try to demonstrate to these well meaning bartenders that an ice muddle really isn't very effective. Something that is quite easy to prove.

If the bar is slow, and the bartender is making me a drink doing the ice-muddle on a lime or something, as he finishes I'll have him stop, and extract the lime and place it on a napkin on the bar.

I'll now have him put a fresh lime in an empty glass, and muddle again. And then extract that lime and put it next to the other.

The lightbulb is almost intantaneous. Not only did it take less work to dry-muddle, but it also obviously extracted far more juice from the lime.

-Robert

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When muddling is it best to chop up the articles to be muddled. For instance strawberries should they be left whole (less the green leaves and stalk)?

I have been using julliened cucumber and what not but would it be better to use larger pieces?

Thoughts>

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I usually will cut the fruit into smaller pieces to aid in the muddling. For example, a strawberry I will cut off the top, and then cut the rest into fours, and limes I'll cut into wedges, and then cut the wedges into three's. It's not necessary to cut the fruit, but it does make things a little easier on your part. And it also helps the fruit to absorb whatever else you may be muddling along with it, like sugar for instance. For cucumbers, thin slices are more than enough - no need to julien, unless you get a kick out of that - I sure don't. I love muddling - it's so much fun! If you're in the market for a muddler, the best by far is the PUG muddler! Hope this helps...

Edited by The Cocktail Guru (log)
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  • 1 year later...

I've got a wooden muddler that's not really up to the task: wood's too soft, base has insufficient surface area, and it's too short for my uses. I'm wondering with what muddlers ye muddle, particularly if you have one bigger than the standard 8" item.

For example, does anyone have this 11" wooden one? Is it varnished?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Pug here. It rocks.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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You can see a review of them hereand there is contact info for Chris on the page as well.

Lenell's also sell's them.

John

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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For example, does anyone have this 11" wooden one? Is it varnished?

I got one of those for my dad last Christmas to go with shakers, strainer, spoon, jigger, etc he asked for. It is very comfortable to use and unvarnished. I nearly traded it out for one of my old ones; it's very nice.

-Andy

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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And from where can one purchase a PUG!? Google is not helping me (though I'm foggy today).

ETA: Just called Amanda at Lenell's in Brooklyn at (877) NO-SNOBS, and for $42 (including S&H) I've got one on the way.

42 bucks? It may be great, it certainly looks great, but for that price I'd expect it to be nuclear powered or something. I just cannot for the life of me imagine that it muddles that much better than my 6 dollar one I have been using for years

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42 bucks? It may be great, it certainly looks great,  but for that price I'd expect it to be nuclear powered or something. I just cannot for the life of me imagine that it muddles that much better than my 6 dollar one I have been using for years

Surely, Mike, you're not suggesting that some of us occasionally overpay for fetish culinary or cocktail objects? :wink:

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Just out of curiosity, what's the advantage of wood over other materials when it comes to muddlers? I've seen stainless steel muddlers, both bare and capped with plastic, as well as all-plastic muddlers in use in some places. Are they just inferior? Also, my AdCraft (a big restaurant supplier) catalog shows a really spiffy wooden muddler in red (Muddler WMD-8 by Admiral Craft Equipment) for about three bucks (and that's the full retail price -- restaurants probably pay a dollar). Is it junk?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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In addition to overpaying for "fetish bar equipment" (gotta :laugh: at that one), remember that a pro bartender might be muddling a hundred mojitos or dirty martinis on a Saturday night. The larger surface area will definitely be more efficient in those circumstances and the expensive bar toy will make up for itself in his tips for not keeping customers waiting too long for their drinks.

You wouldn't use a tack hammer to take down drywall, would you? NO! The biggest baddest sledgehammer you can swing is best. This is a similar situation.

Mike, for your home use purposes I'm sure the $6 one works fine.

They really are pretty great. Expensive. But awesome. Like a sledgehammer for cocktails.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Just out of curiosity, what's the advantage of wood over other materials when it comes to muddlers? I've seen stainless steel muddlers, both bare and capped with plastic, as well as all-plastic muddlers in use in some places. Are they just inferior? Also, my AdCraft (a big restaurant supplier) catalog shows a really spiffy wooden muddler in red (Muddler WMD-8 by Admiral Craft Equipment) for about three bucks (and that's the full retail price -- restaurants probably pay a dollar). Is it junk?

Red?

If it's painted or shellacked (many are), yer gonna have to sand that off and refinish with food grade mineral oil. Flakes of shellac or paint aren't welcome garnishes in most cocktails. The time you spend sanding, is gonna pretty much eat the additional $10 for the Mr. Mojito muddler.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I don't know what to tell you. These guys are restaurant suppliers and all their stuff is supposed to be up to code. But yes, the catalog as well as every picture I can find when I Google that product shows it as red.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Just out of curiosity, what's the advantage of wood over other materials when it comes to muddlers? I've seen stainless steel muddlers, both bare and capped with plastic, as well as all-plastic muddlers in use in some places. Are they just inferior? Also, my AdCraft (a big restaurant supplier) catalog shows a really spiffy wooden muddler in red (Muddler WMD-8 by Admiral Craft Equipment) for about three bucks (and that's the full retail price -- restaurants probably pay a dollar). Is it junk?

At work we have wooden (unvarnished) muddlers and plastic ones, and while I don't know if there's a real reason behind it, the plastic ones just feel wrong. It could just be the traditionalist in me, but I don't like them. Also they appear to be of cheap manufacture and the bottom is somewhat uneven where the casting marks are.

-Andy

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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The deal with the red lacquered muddlers is that, food-grade or not, the lacquer will eventually wear off and the red dye will eventually wear off. This won't be in chips, as Eric suggests (or at least I've never seen that happen), but it is true that the dye and lacquer will end up in your drinks. I've seen plenty of those red muddlers with the finish worn off of the base and the red color looking like it's partially soaked off.

As with anything, of course, whether it makes sense to spend 30 bucks on a muddler will depend on how much muddling you're doing, and also whether it's enjoyable for you to have a nice muddler. The PUG! Muddlers, as well as some of the other "artisanal" muddlers not only do a great job, but are also a joy to hold and a joy to behold. No, you don't need one of these to make a great drink, but you don't need copper cookware and a professional-quality stove to make a great pork chop either. For those who make few muddled drinks and aren't particularly interested in bar equipment, one can easily find bar spoons with a flat disk on the end opposite the spoon that can be used for muddling. We've even known those who put the wooden end of a potato masher to good use when muddling is required.

Choice of muddler will be a personal one, just like choice of chef's knife. There is no one obvious answer. I know a few people who use the stainless/rubber muddlers, but most seem to feel that the top of the stainless muddler is too small and hurts the hand when any pressure is applied. The plastic muddlers, I think, are slippery and too light, and often have a seam right across the top of the handle. I can't imagine that too many bartenders are actually choosing to use them, and have to believe that they're chosen by management because they can be thrown into the dishwasher.

In my opinion, what you'd like to have in a muddler are these characteristics:

1. Long enough to easily fit into a tall glass or mixing tin with plenty of muddler left available to grip.

2. Flat, round base that is large enough to cover most of the bottom of the glass or mixing tin without getting stuck.

3. Heavy enough that, if one is muddling mint, the muddler can simply be "dropped" onto the leaves a few times for a few light tape.

4. The top part of the muddler should be broad enough so that when any pressure needs to be applied (e.g., in muddling limes) it doesn't hurt your hand.

5. It shouldn't be slippery.

6. It shouldn't have any material that is likely to dissolve, flake away or otherwise find its way into any drinks.

7. It should be made of a material that is durable, long-lasting and relatively nonporous.

For a home user, however... if you don't really like having cool bar equipment and you don't muddle very often, why not just use the handle end of a nice thick wooden spoon?

--

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I had to look up the definition of muddler, and now that I know what it is, I'm still not sure I understand what they exist.

What are the specific reasons for, or advantages of, bruising/crushing ingredients in the serving vessel?

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My first muddler was one similar to the ones Fat Guy linked to. Brown varnish, though, not red.

I do find it too short to work well in mixing tins or tempered pint glasses. I think a 10" muddler would be much better. Works fine for muddling in the glass, as for Caipirinhas.

Initially, I dismissed recommendations that I needed to sand the finish off. One day, though, I noticed that, yes, chips of colored varnish were missing from the business end. At which point, embarrassed that anyone might have sampled a cocktail with varnish chips, I took it down to the garage and spent about an hour sanding the rest of the varnish off.

Anyway, the one chrisamirault initially linked to, looks like a good compromise between cost and function. Though, as jmfangio points out, if you've already got something similar in your kitchen, you may not need to invest. Pestle from your China Cap, maybe...

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I had to look up the definition of muddler, and now that I know what it is, I'm still not sure I understand what they exist.

What are the specific reasons for, or advantages of, bruising/crushing ingredients in the serving vessel?

Herbs and/or fruit and fruit peel has long been an essential ingredient in a host of classic drinks, most famously mint in drinks like Mojitos and Mint Juleps, and sometimes fruit shows up in drinks like an Old Fashioned, although Basil, Thyme, citrus peel, apples, and cherries can and have also been used just to name a few. A muddler is an efficient way to extract the flavorful essences from these ingredients for incorporation into cocktails. It really opens up a new demension of what flavors and layers of texture are available to add to drinks, but like all trends it is very prone to abuse.

-Andy

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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