What exactly IS muddling?
Our pals over at Mirriam-Webster define it as something like this:
mud·dledmud·dling \?m?d-li?, ?m?-d?l-i?\
Definition of MUDDLE
Befog or stupefy? Make turbid or muddy? Make a mess of?
Taking it down a bit, muddling is a way to bring out flavors and oils in ingredients to help them permeate a drink more. Mojitos rely on bruising (NOT mangling or shredding and some overzealous bartenders are wont to do) of mint leaves to let the flavor combine with the lime and sugars. Caipirinhas benefit from muddling the lime and sugar.
If you are mixing up a cocktail that calls for muddled blueberries or orange peel, you need a bit more muddling power. In a previous post, we mentioned you can use an immersion blender when berry muddling is at hand. This is a little too much for the leaves and herbs one might also use in a drink, however, so the hand muddler is best for this.
Now, to throw more fun into the muddling mix, there are muddlers with rounded ends and then muddlers with teeth. Best rule of thumb we have found is to use the rounded end for bruising to extract oils, like in mojitos, and the rougher ends when muddling berries or citrus. There are also wooden muddlers and steel muddlers (Shaker One has an awesome wooden parrot muddler that just seems to make mojitos and the like taste even more festive.)
Your brain muddled even more now? We hope not…