You’ve been through your liquor cabinet a million times and the hinges on your fridge are almost worn through. Each time you look, you’re hoping to find inspiration for something new to consume. Well, here’s something you may not have tried yet – combining the ingredients of your liquor cabinet and refrigerator. You can use ingredients from your fridge and entire kitchen to create great new cocktails by muddling ingredients as part of your cocktail recipes. We’re talkin’ fruits, herbs, spices, sugar cubes, candy . . . you get the idea, almost anything except fish, we don’t recommend muddling fish 🙂
Some easy go-to muddling options include basil, thyme and, of course, mint. These are simple to grow at home – they grow fast and with almost no care at all. For fruit, almost anything will do, but we use oranges, cherries, and blackberries often. All widely available at the grocery store, of course.
There are a few rules of thumb to observe when muddling . . .
- You don’t need any fancy tools to muddle ingredients. The back of a big spoon will do just fine. But, if you want to upgrade to something easier to use that will give you more control over your results, something like the one we recommend here works ($5 at Amazon). There are metal ones with rubber smashing ends, but we like the old school wood ones. They make it easier to avoid going all Terminator on the ingredients.
- Generally, you’ll muddle in a mixing glass or a mixing tin. We recommend a glass, if you have it. It’s good to see what’s going on in the muddling process.
- We like to start with a small amount of a liquid ingredient in the mixing glass first. Say, if a recipe calls for a 1/4 oz of lemon juice or a 1/2 oz of simple syrup, we put that in the mixing glass first, then add the ingredients we want to muddle. the idea here is that you’re expressing the flavors from the muddled ingredients into some liquid. This will grease the skids for the muddling, as it were, but still make it relatively easy to work the muddler without having to deal with several ounces of other liquids.
- Unlike like what you see happen in the movies or even at the crappy bar you used to go to pre-coronavirus, muddling is a gentle affair. You don’t want to pulverize the ingredient, you want to lightly release its goodness. For herbs and spices, the veins of the leaves are general bitter. That’s not the taste you’re looking for so avoid smashing them to death. Just roll the muddler easily over the leaves to release the right tastes. Similarly, for fruit, the rind is generally bitter. So, you don’t want to smash up the rind in your cocktail. Either cut the rind away, or avoid muddling that part of the fruit in the drink.
- You can leave the muddled ingredients in the mixing glass while you add the other ingredients and shake or stir. You’ll usually want to strain the ingredients after shaking or stirring, but sometimes, it’s cool to leave them in and have them float around in the drink. This assumes that they’re small enough not to be a choking hazard.
That’s really about it. Super easy and broadens the range of drinks you can make at home substantially. To give you a head start, here are some Consumatorium drinks that call for muddling ingredients.