another edition of Moose Mixology,
as seen on Dashing through Winston-Salem this week…
It has come to my attention that in the few posts I have done through Moose Mixology, as well as my regular blog posts, I mention muddling a lot. It has also been pointed out to me that I might be muddling the minds of some readers who aren’t sure what this technique is all about. So allow me to elaborate on this simple concept that might make you feel like a professional bartender. Even if muddling doesn’t take you to the Tom Cruise tossing bottles over your shoulder level, it will at least turn a plain Vodka tonic into a Raspberry & Herb infused Vodka Tonic, if nothing else. Your cocktail hour might never be the same.
Muddling a drink simply means smashing an ingredient to extract the flavor, and or color. For the sake of this simple explanation, let’s use mint as our ingredient. You place the mint in the bottom of a thick glass and use a muddler to bruise it, to really smash it up and release the oils and flavor of the mint. You will smell it, and if someone walks into the room and smells it too, you will know you have done it enough to move on to the next step in your cocktail.
Some of you are probably wondering what does a muddler even look like? A traditional muddler looks like a wooden stick, a small baseball bat to be honest. Commonly made of wood, one end is skinnier than the other end, and the larger end usually has a rounded area. The larger round end you use to smash ingredients in the bottom of your glass, the skinny end can be used for stirring. When you smash an ingredient like mint, you are releasing the flavor of the oils into the glass. When you muddle a berry, such as a raspberry, you release little pods of flavor, and color. Some muddlers are more modern and sleek, and some muddlers have teeth that can be used for heavier or bulky ingredients, such as berries. While it can be fun to have different types once you really get into it, it is not necessary. You can muddle your drinks with a wooden kitchen spoon if you need, or want to!
Depending on my ingredients, I will sometimes strain my cocktail before pouring into a glass to enjoy. This will be your choice, and will largely be based on the content of what you are muddling. Think of a mojito, one of the most popular muddled drinks, you often are served a mojito with the mint all throughout the glass, and sometimes it is strained and the mint then used as a garnish. Personal preference, time and the number of cocktails you have made and enjoyed already will most often dictate what you do.
Most importantly, muddling allows you to play, to get creative in the kitchen, to use what you have in your garden or what you bought at the farmers market and aren’t sure what to do with! Yes, there are lots of recipes out there to research and try, but make up your own drinks and have fun….I love doing this! The other week I made the most fabulous Muddled Mulberry Margarita, super simple. Using fresh mulberries my kids had picked at their grandmother’s, I muddled the berries with lime in a glass, making a lime mulberry syrup. (See how simple that is, just sounds like it took a lot of time.) I juiced two whole limes into that, then added tequila and triple sec at their proper proportions. Because of the seeds in the mulberries, I did strain this mixture into a shaker, then mixed up one of the most clean and delicious tasting cocktails I’ve enjoyed in a while. It wasn’t the maker, but the fresh, local flavors that allowed me to indulge, to sip, to savor the best of food and life in my glass. For those of you who want a little hand holding, click on this link for a Mojito or Raspberry Smash recipe, or this link for a Hudson Lemonade or Black & Blue. As with anything these days, there are limitless numbers of recipes out there just a click away.
Once upon a time cocktails were clean and simple, and mixologists were something you found in a lab and not a bar. But in the mixology world, muddling has become quite the trend in the past couple of years. So don’t muddle a rebuttal, try it tonight!