Fall is one of my favorite seasons for making cocktails! There are so many incredible seasonal flavors – everything from spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to fruits like pear, dates, apple and pomegranate. Muddling is a great technique used by mixologists to help release the flavors of these awesome ingredients.
To start, you'll need a muddler, essentially a bartender's pestle. If you don't have an real muddler, don’t worry! You can easily use the end of a wooden spoon or small french rolling pin.
First, add the ingredients you'll be muddling to the bottom of either your cocktail shaker or a sturdy glass. Many recipes call for muddling ingredients in a cocktail shaker before adding ice and the remaining ingredients. Other recipes, such as the mojito, call for muddling ingredients directly in your cocktail glass.
If you're working with herbs, the goal is to release their essential oils. For fruit, you're extracting the juice in addition to essential oils in the peel. Here are some tips on working with each kind of ingredient:
- For herbs such as mint or thyme, gently press the muddler down and give it a half-turn just a few times. Gentle muddling will prevent the herbs from releasing too much chlorophyll, which can be bitter when over-extracted. For hardier herbs like rosemary, you can use a heavier hand.
- For fruits like apple or pear, muddle a bit more forcefully to release the juice.
- Some recipes call for adding sugar or simple syrup to the glass with the herbs or fruit before muddling. This can help to blend flavors with the sweetness of the sugar or syrup as you muddle.
Once you're done muddling, follow the directions of the recipe you're making for when to add the spirits and ice. If you're making a cocktail directly in your serving glass, add ice and remaining ingredients, then stir. If you're muddling ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add your ice and remaining ingredients, shake well, and then either strain or simply pour the drink into a glass.
Ready to get started? Try out our recipe for a pomegranate whiskey sour below. Enjoy!
Pomegranate Whiskey Sour
- 2 oz bourbon
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 1 tsp fresh pomegranate seeds
- Muddle pomegranate seeds in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.
- Add simple syrup, lemon juice and bourbon, then ice.
- Shake until cold then strain (to remove seeds) into a rocks glass with fresh ice.
- Garnish with a lemon peel.