To Muddle or Not to Muddle?
It’s a question that bar managers and mixologists always struggle with when creating a new cocktail menu: Do they include a muddled drink? With the Mojito craze here to stay, some bar experts have found quick alternatives to full-on muddling at their busy bars.
“At Sullivan’s, I can take a recipe that requires muddling mint or cucumber and chop up a cucumber or mint – and have that ready to throw into a container and shake it up,” says LaNasa. You can get similar results. I have tried to simplify the recipes so they don’t have to technically muddle. [They include ideas such as] taking strawberries and soaking them in balsamic instead of muddling them together.”
Pietropaolo at Local 121 has a similar trick. “I always find that replacing a sugar cube with a splash of simple syrup is the easiest way to cut down on the muddling in a Mojito or Old Fashioned,” she says. For example, the Sazerac Cocktail is usually made by muddling a sugar cube with a dash of Peychaud Bitters, then adding Sazerac Rye and ice, stir and pour into a glass coated with absinthe. Her quick method is to use simple syrup instead of the sugar cube and she adds a drop of absinthe into the ingredients, shakes and strains the drink into the glass.
This year Mez hosted a Kentucky Derby party that attracted some 400 people. They wanted to serve mint juleps, but worried about the time it would to take to muddle them. Instead of muddling each drink with mint, they created mint-infused simple syrup to blend with the Bourbon. The drinks were still garnished with fresh mint, but they did not have to completely rely on the time consuming muddling process for flavor. “We really wanted to stay true to the traditional mint julep,” explains Byrd. “We found that the mint-infused syrup really showcased the flavor of the Bourbon while speeding up service.”