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Good shakers and great glasses are all crucial parts of your home bar, but what about a stellar muddler? An excellent muddler will help you mash up your way to mojitos, caipirinhas, and more, as well as incorporate all manners of fruits, herbs, and other spices into your drinks. Muddlers come in a range of different sizes, types, and finishes. Which one is best for your home bar? A slate of professional bartenders weigh in to help narrow down your search.
Read on for the best cocktail muddlers available.
Best Overall: Cocktail Kingdom Bad Ass Muddler
This dual-sided tool works two-fold: a rounded side allows for softer muddling (think mint that bruises easily) while a reversed hard edge kicks in for tougher jobs. The muddler has textured, grippable sides to prevent it from slipping out of your hand, even when the surface is wet or sticky. Note that this muddler has a larger surface area than most muddlers, letting you crush up ingredients in larger glasses. It stands 1.5 inches in diameter and 8.75 inches long.
“This muddler is great because you don’t get the chips from a wooden muddler,” describes Jose Medina Camacho from the award-winning Automatic Seafood and Oysters in Birmingham, Alabama. “And, it lasts forever and is easy to clean.” The cocktail muddler also comes at the recommendation of Dave Arnold’s "Liquid Intelligence" book. Medina Camacho particularly favors this heavy-duty yet sleek muddler for Whiskey Smashes, Mojitos, and South Sides.
Best Budget: Hiware 10-inch Stainless Steel Cocktail Muddler and Mixing Spoon Set
“If I’m looking for a muddler, I’m looking for two things: length and if it has a flat or textured head,” describes Catrina Franzoi from WindsorEats. “More often than not, I am muddling inside of a cocktail shaker so I like to use a muddler that is taller than my shaker so I can muddle without my hand getting in the way. A muddler with a textured head, in my opinion, quickens the muddling process and extracts more flavor.”
This affordable muddler is great for imbibers of all levels. A non-scratch nylon head is excellent for mashing citrus, fruits, herbs, and spices and makes it easy to crush down ice cubes. Durable nylon prevents the muddler from breaking or scratching glasses. It's also rust-proof and durable, made with BPA-free materials, and is dishwasher safe. The nylon will not crack or leave a slight residue like wooden muddlers do. One of our favorite parts of this set? It comes equipped with a classic swizzle spoon with a trident fork.
“Never over-muddle,” says Wael Deek of New York City’s Osteria 57. “You will mess up the drink. Muddling is the best extract for essence and to bring out the profile from herbs.”
Best Wood: Cocktail Kingdom Natural Wood Muddler
“My favorite muddler is any muddler that has some heft to it, fits well in my hand, and isn’t varnished or spiked,” says Amber Pollock from Backward Distilling Company in Casper, Wyoming. Her favorite is this solid muddler from Cocktail Kingdom, made with non-traded, non-varnished smooth wood. “Avoid painted, stained, or lacquered muddlers,” advises H. Joseph Ehrmann, proprietor of Elixir in San Francisco and co-founder of Fresh Victor mixers. “It eventually all comes off...in your drink!”
Rochelle Tougas, General Manager of the FM Kitchen & Bar in Houston agrees. “My favorite muddler would have to be a simple wood 9.75 inch, no treatments or stains—just natural wood. I have had the same muddler at my home for the last eight years and it is one of those staples I feel I always like to see on my home bar! I find it so amusing to hear a guest or non-bartender ask about the 'mini baseball bat'.”
Cocktail Kingdom works with professional bartenders and cocktail writers to create ergonomically-driven products that career bartenders swear by. This particular muddler stands 9.75 inches in length and 1.25 inches in diameter.
“I would say the best tip I have for muddling is to always press your muddler down and give a little twist as you make contact with whatever you are muddling,” says Tougas. “I find I tend to also keep it going in a full circle when I muddle; by which I mean I go around the clock as I pick up the muddler to macerate more, rather than macerating in the center over and over.”
Best Stainless Steel: OXO Steel Muddler
OXO is highly regarded as one of the best brands for top-quality kitchen gadgets at prices that don’t bust budgets. This unusually-shaped muddler is particularly great for muddling sugar down, like demerara and thicker sugars used in Tiki drinks.
It features a soft, rounded surface at the tip that sits comfortably in your palm and allows you to apply pressure and twist the muddler with ease. The die-cast zinc handle and nylon head are specifically constructed to protect glasses when muddling and prevent scratches or cracks from happening. A soft, comfortable grip makes it easy to crush up flavors and ingredients.
This muddler is a bit longer than a standard muddler, so it's a great choice if you have a larger cocktail shaker or a deeper glass. The muddler stands 1.7 inches in diameter and 9 inches in length. Clean-up is easy: simply pop this muddler in the dishwasher.
Best For Mojitos: Outset Professional Cocktail Muddler
Outset's Mojito muddler has everything you need in a muddler: it’s made with anti-bacterial, carbonized, and 100 percent food-safe bamboo wood. It’s easy to wash and the sturdy construction makes it less likely to shed or flake any wooden particles into your cocktail. Plus, a guaranteed lifetime warranty promises this muddler will stay with you for years.
Bamboo’s properties don’t impart flavors on the drink, preserving the flavors of each cocktail. The softly curving handle fits comfortably in the hand and at a lengthy 11-inches long, it fits in tall tiki glasses or in a pitcher for when you’re crafting cocktails for a crowd. The bamboo will also add a tropical aesthetic to any bar cart.
“I like to muddle into my syrup rather than muddle ingredients on their own,” says Amber Pollock of Casper, Wyoming's Backward Distilling Company. “Also, your muddling technique should change based on what you are muddling. Be gentle with fragile ingredients like mint or basil. No need to destroy them: a light press will do.”
Best For Mint Juleps: Barillio Big-Shot Hard Maple Muddlet Mallet and Lewis Ice Bag Kit
One of the most crucial parts of a Mint Julep is crushed ice. Wrapped up in this all-in-one kit are all the crucial elements to make an excellent Julep: a muddler and an ice mallet, all packed inside a Lewis bag. The heavy-duty canvas bag is designed to create the perfect crushed ice with a few swings of a mallet. Simply add a handful of cubes to the bag, crush the ice with the mallet, and add the ice to your favorite muddled drink. The bag is designed to absorb extra liquids, ensuring your bar top or counter won’t be filled with puddles after crushing. It's triple-stitched and can handle up to 14 ounces of ice.
The muddler is made with durable, high-density hard maple from Canada. Natural grains and a mineral oil finish give it a handsome aesthetic and the finish prevents the wood from flaking or scratching on the inside of your glass.
“Keep hardwood muddlers in good shape with mineral oil,” advises H. Joseph Ehrmann, proprietor of Elixir in San Francisco. “Just like a cutting board!”
Best For Bartenders: A Bar Above Ergonomic Drink Muddler for Home Bars and Professional Bartenders
At 12 inches in length, this muddler is one of the longest on the market, which helps keep hands from knocking the side of the glass. The smooth end of the muddler also prevents herbs from being broken down too harshly or from turning bitter. “Remember that muddling does not mean pulverizing,” says Franzoi. “This is not an area to let out aggression—save that for the shaking! When the smell of what you are muddling hits you, stop.”
Plus, this muddler's ergonomic design will reduce hand-stress—perfect for a busy working bartender who's muddling many drinks per night (or the hustling hostess who’s prepping cocktails for a crowd). The food-safe, durable material is designed to last for years of cocktail hours. Throw it in this dishwasher when you’re done and make cleaning up a breeze.
Most Versatile: Winco Wooden Muddler Lacquered Walnut
“To muddle multiple ingredients, you need a versatile muddler,” says Nate Fishman, bartender at Liquor Lab and ambassador for Santera Tequila. “A wooden muddler lets you extract the flavor of everything from herbs to spices. If you want to find a muddler to use specifically for cocktails a wooden muddler (lacquered hardwood with a flat end) is best.”
This affordable option is designed specifically for the rigorous demands of hospitality professionals. “For cleaning,” describes Fishman, “the lacquer protects the wood from being porous. Just wash, rinse, and dry.” However, since this muddler is lacquered it may get slick when wet. When preparing drinks, Fishman notes that “muddling is always based on the ingredient rather than the cocktail. Muddle the ingredient alone before adding any liquids.”
For each herb, Fishman recommends two to four light presses for mint, six to eight for berries, ten to 12 for citrus, and six to eight for cucumber and ginger.