How to Muddle Herbs & Fruits

The extra effort is totally worth it.

Nothing says summertime like a Mint Julep, Mojito or any cocktail that puts fresh fruit in the spotlight — and if you want to get the most out of those drinks, you need to learn how to muddle!

Muddling is a technique that’s a bit more complicated than it looks, but with a few simple tricks, it’s not too hard to keep everything straight. There are two main methods and muddler designs: those for herbs and those for fruit.
 

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1 Muddling Herbs

For the Mint Julep and Mojito (as well as a host of other drinks), you’ll be working with relatively fragile, leafy herbs like mint. When muddling herbs, your goal isn’t to mash them into pulp — instead, you’re just trying to release the essential oils that provide the cocktail’s aroma. If you crush them up too much, you’ll give everything a bitter chlorophyll flavor.
 

For herbs, you want to use a blunt muddler (as opposed to one with teeth), but as you can see in the pictures, using the blunt end of a toothed muddler works just fine.
 

Place the herbs in the bottom of your cocktail shaker or serving glass. Use a gentle, firm pressing motion to bruise the herbs. Don’t grind them like you’re using a mortar and pestle, as that will tear the leaves and overpower the drink.
 

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2 Muddling Fruit

When it comes to drinks like the Caipirinha or Strawberry Daiquiri, you’re going to be muddling fruit that can stand up to more abuse than herbs. The goal here is two-fold: to press the fruit juice and to express the essential oils from fruit that has a peel.
 

For fruit, you can use either a blunt or toothed muddler, but the latter will give you more purchase on tough fruit like citrus.
 

Place the citrus (cut into wedges), berries or other fruit in the bottom of your cocktail shaker or serving glass. Use a firm pressing and twisting motion to juice the fruit and express the essential oils. Then go ahead and add the rest of the ingredients and shake or serve as directed.
 

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3 Improvising a Muddler

Luckily, you don’t really need to buy a dedicated muddler to make these drinks. There are a number of common kitchen tools that will do the trick, and a great go-to in a pinch is simply the end of a wooden spoon.

Muddling is a great way to introduce fresh fruit, herbs and even vegetable flavors into your cocktails, which makes it a perfect technique to practice in time for spring. Feel free to experiment, as there’s no limit to what you can make!

Use your muddling techniques to make these drinks!
 • Moscow Mules: A classic cocktail that never goes out of style
 • Whiskey Smash: Bourbon-based cocktail with a hint of citrus from lemon

 

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