If you’ve ever seen a bartender going hell for leather on some rather innocent-looking lime and mint for your mojito, chances are they were using a muddler. Just as its almost-onomatopoeic moniker implies, this nifty bar tool is designed to mash-up or muddle the ingredients in one’s drink.
Beyond that zesty rum-based cocktail, a muddler is used to make such classics as a mint julep, an old fashioned, a caipirinha and a caipiroska. Of course, once you have a trusty muddler of your own, you can incorporate all manner of fresh fruits, herbs and spices into your cocktails. Blueberry, thyme and gin is a particularly winning combination, but you can pretty much use whatever you have lying around the house.
Muddlers come in a variety of different finishes, including wood, stainless steel and even silicone, so you can pick a design that suits your bar. But, folks, size does matter. You want a muddler with enough length to reach to the bottom of a tumbler, cocktail shaker or mixing pitcher. Here, we’ve curated four of our favorites to get you muddling in no time.
1. Bamboo Mojito Muddler
Wood muddlers have been used in bars since the very first cocktails were mixed, and they are by far the most popular pick. This particular muddler is crafted from 100-percent bamboo—a fast-growing alternative to traditional timber—so it’s both sustainable and stylish. Bamboo is also tougher and more moisture-resistant than most other woods, which means this model will stand the test of time. The 8.5-inch muddler also has a comfortable round handle that allows you to smash to your heart’s content.
Pros: Good karma thanks to its eco-friendly edge.
Cons: Like all wood muddlers, you have to wash by hand.
2. Hiware Stainless Steel Muddler Set
Stainless steel muddlers are all the rage right now as they’re dead simple to clean. Unlike their wooden counterparts, you can just pop this baby in the dishwasher and get rid of any bacteria. Spanning an impressive 10 inches in length, this modern muddler can reach the bottom of even the tallest glass and has a gridded rubber head to really mash up those ingredients. It can even crush ice.
Pros: The set includes a chic mixing spoon.
Cons: Given the size, it might be larger than you really need.
3. Winco Wooden Muddler
This 8-inch wood muddler proves that just because something is simple, that doesn’t make it any less effective. With an elegant minimalist design, this model is fashioned from walnut wood and has a fine-yet-open grain that will look at home in any bar. Thanks to a rounded top, you can mash and muddle for hours on end.
Pros: Its simple design gets the job done.
Cons: The rounded head lacks the traditional griddled surface.
4. Acacia Cocktail Muddler
Designed in Seattle, this muddler is handcrafted from beech hardwood and will appeal to imbibers who appreciate the finer things. Its wide crushing base can tackle the everyday tasks, like the gentle muddling of herbs and fruits, as well as the heavy-duty jobs like cracking ice. Best of all, you get a matching burlap pouch to store it in.
Pros: Given the high-quality, it’s somewhat of a bargain.
Cons: Light-colored woods may stain from dark fruits or herbs.