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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 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.
Best Overall: Cocktail Kingdom Bad Ass Muddler
Two sides for versatile muddling
Grippable, anti-slip sides
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, easy-to-grip sides that 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, letting you crush 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,” says Jose Medina Camacho of the award-winning Automatic Seafood and Oysters in Birmingham, Alabama. “And, it lasts forever and is easy to clean.”
Best Budget: Hiware 10-inch Stainless Steel Cocktail Muddler and Mixing Spoon Set
Includes stirring bar spoon
Durable and rust-proof
On the shorter side
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 and is dishwasher safe. The nylon won't crack or leave a slight residue like wooden muddlers do. It even comes equipped with a classic swizzle spoon with a trident fork.
“If I’m looking for a muddler, I’m looking for two things: length and if it has a flat or textured head,” says Catrina Franzoi of WindsorEats in Windsor, Ontario. “More often than not, I'm muddling inside of a cocktail shaker, so I like to use a muddler that's 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.”
“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 Stainless Steel: OXO Steel Muddler
Longer than the average muddler
Soft, comfortable grip
Sharp teeth easily over-muddle herbs
Pricier than other muddlers
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, including thicker varieties 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. A soft, comfortable grip makes it easy to crush 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 deeper glass. The muddler stands 1.7 inches in diameter and 9 inches in length. Cleanup is easy, too. Simply pop it in the dishwasher.
“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're muddling,” says Tougas. “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 for Mojitos: Outset Professional Cocktail Muddler
Long enough for pitchers or highball glasses
Awkwardly long for a rocks glass
Outset's muddler has everything you need in the tool. It’s made with anti-bacterial, carbonized, and 100 percent food-safe acacia 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.
Acacia’s properties don’t impart flavors on drinks, preserving the taste of each cocktail. The softly curving handle fits comfortably in the hand, and at a lengthy 11-inches long, fits in tall tiki glasses or a pitcher when crafting big batches of mojitos, margaritas, or the like.
“I like to muddle into my syrup rather than muddle ingredients on their own,” says Amber Pollock of Backward Distilling Company in Casper, Wyoming. “Also, your muddling technique should change based on what you're 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
Includes an ice bag
Wood muddler requires oiling
No grip on muddler
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 perfect crushed ice with a few swings of a mallet. Simply add a handful of cubes, crush the ice with the mallet, and add to your favorite muddled drink. The bag is even designed to absorb extra liquids, ensuring your bar top or counter won’t be filled with puddles. 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. 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
Too large for a standard rocks glass
Bottom is slightly curved
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 turning bitter.
“Remember that muddling does not mean pulverizing,” says WindsorEats' Franzoi. “This is not an area to let out aggression—save that for the shaking. When the smell of what you're muddling hits you, stop.”
This muddler's ergonomic design is comfortable—perfect for a busy bartender who's muddling many drinks per night. The durable material is designed to last for years of cocktail hours. Throw it in the dishwasher when you’re done for easy cleanup.
Best Versatile: Winco Wooden Muddler Lacquered Walnut
Ideal for fragile ingredients, like herbs
Lacquer can chip off over time
Hard to grip when wet
“To muddle multiple ingredients, you need a versatile muddler,” says Nate Fishman, a bartender at New York City's 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. It's incredibly easy to clean, too, as the lacquer protects the wood from being porous. All you have to do is wash, rinse, and dry. However, since it's lacquered, it may get slick when wet. When preparing drinks, Fishman notes that muddling is always based on the ingredient rather than the cocktail, and that it's best to muddle the ingredient alone before adding any liquids.
Fishman recommends two to four light presses for mint; six to eight for berries, cucumber, and ginger; and ten to 12 for citrus.
Bartenders swear by Cocktail Kingdom’s Bad Ass Muddler (view at Amazon), noting the two sides will make quick work of any and every ingredient you’re looking to muddle. If you’re looking for a tool with more style points, the design of the Outset Professional Cocktail Muddler (view at Amazon) gives off a mid-century modern appeal.
What to Look for When Buying a Cocktail Muddler
Materials matter. Wood with lacquer, paint, or other finishes may add an aesthetic appeal, but over time, they will likely chip off and land in your drink. Opt for high-quality, food-safe polypropylene or natural wood.
If you purchase a wooden muddler, extend its life by taking proper care of it. Just like you would a wooden cutting board, oil the muddler with grapeseed or olive oil to prevent it from drying out. Wash a wooden muddler via hand.
Consider that you’re going to put this muddler to work. You want one that will fit snugly in your hand while muddling down ingredients. With that in mind, look for a muddler with an ergonomic design and heavy weight, making it less stressful on your muscles to grind down herbs, spices, and fruits.
How do you muddle a cocktail?
Start off by adding your ingredients to the glass. From there, gently press and twist the muddler over the bushels of herbs or spices. If you’re working with herbs, take care not to overwork the leaves, as over-muddling will leave you with bitter, tannic flavors rather than fresh herbaceous scents. When muddling spices, you can apply more pressure to release the fragrances.
Which cocktails need to be muddled?
The classic muddled cocktails are mojitos and caipirinhas. That said, any cocktail that requires the addition of herbs and spices, like the raspberry lemon or ginger tea cocktail, could benefit from a muddle to express the flavors of the ingredients.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Kate Dingwall is a seasoned spirits and wine writer, working bartender, and sommelier. She is based in Toronto and holds a Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level III qualification. She has also written about the best cocktail shakers and margarita mixes for The Spruce Eats.