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Muddling flavours into your cocktail

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Using a little stick could make the difference between a grassy-tasting cocktail and a tasty concoction with a variety of subtle flavours.

Muddling is an age old cocktail mixing technique where a wooden stick is used like a pestle to press herbs and spices in the bottom of a glass to release their flavour. This technique is especially important in cocktails that use fresh herbs, like the mojito, which uses mint leaves.

cocktail
By Dinner Series
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Fruits, herbs and spices are ideal for muddling into cocktails.

Herb leaves that contain chlorophyll will release it when they are crushed or shredded, and the green pigment is bitter tasting. This affects the flavour of the entire cocktail. If you’re stocking a bar at home, look into getting a traditional, unvarnished wood muddler. A plastic toothed muddler can be used for fruits or thicker ingredients.

Before mixing, consider storing your herbs in a refrigerator like the Electrolux Nutrifresh, whose crisper’s humidity can be adjusted to keep them as fresh as possible for maximum flavour. Its Nutrilight feature can also enhance their vibrancy and nutrients for a more flavourful and colourful cocktail to entertain your guests.

The muddling technique

When muddling, be sure to use a sturdy mixing glass that won’t break or chip. A pint glass or shaker tin works well. Place the leaves into the bottom of the glass. Press down lightly with the muddler and give it a few gentle twists of your wrist rather than an up and down motion. Continue for about a count of 10.  Don’t crush or pulverise the leaves, or you’ll release the chlorophyll.

Muddling
By Dinner Series
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A gentle twisting motion is all that’s needed for muddling.

If the concoction smells minty or herby, stop and add the fruit, then muddle them until the juice has squirted out of the flesh. The leaves should be bruised but not ground up into paste. Fruit should be pulped, and take care not to crush any seeds which might make the drink bitter.

Add condiments

If you’re muddling just the herbs alone, try adding a sprinkle of salt, sugar or brown sugar. What you use depends on the flavour of the cocktail. The coarseness of their grains will help to abrade the surface of the herb’s leaves without shredding them.

Getting creative

With the right muddling technique, you can add all sorts of flavour combinations into your cocktails. Muddling in several items in layers can create a unique and tasty combination.

Common herbs, fruits and spices used in combination in cocktails include:  Cilantro, Cranberries, Cucumber, Dill, Basil, Blackberries, Figs, Lime, Lemon, Mint leaves, Pineapple, Rosemary, Strawberries, Thyme

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