Wood muddlers are a bartender’s tool. They are used like a pestle to mash—or muddle—fruits, herbs, and/or spices in the bottom of a glass to release their flavor.
Many muddlers are made from wood because wood will not react with ingredients. Wood muddlers require careful maintenance, and they may even, on occasion, need to be oiled.
Muddlers can be produced in an assortment of sizes and shapes which can be used in various glasses and to blend a variety of drinks.
Classic muddlers are produced with a slightly flared bulbous end and the very end of the rod is flattened. This allows the drink maker to crush ingredients against the side of the glass. The flared end can be used like a pestle to grind ingredients in a glass.
When using a muddler for making drinks, the drink maker crushes ingredients like limes, lemons, and mint against the glass before pouring ice in. The crushing with the muddler encourages these ingredients to release their volatile aromatic oils, where the flavor is concentrated. When ice, mixers, and alcohol are added, these oils blend with the ingredients, creating a very intense, rich flavor.
A muddler can also be used to stir a drink, blending the ingredients together for an even flavor. Muddlers are commonly used to make drinks like mojitos and lemon drops. In both cases, the drink will taste more complex if a muddler is used to release the flavor compounds in the mint and lemon respectively. Drink makers can also use muddlers as juicing instruments to extract juice from wedges of lemon, lime, and other fruits.