When a cocktail recipe calls for muddling it can mean two things: smashing the hell out of fruit or lightly crushing herbs. If you’re muddling lime quarters into a Caipirinha or blackberries into a Bramble, go ahead and take out a day’s worth of rage on the poor produce. If you’re muddling herbs like basil or mint, on the other hand, that calls for a bit more finesse. Your goal isn’t to juice the herbs or crush them into submission. All you want to do is activate the herbs and release their aromatic awesomeness into the drink.
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Add the herbs and sugar (or simple syrup, bitters, or whatever else the recipe calls for) into a shaker tin or pint glass. We prefer to use a tin so that the glass doesn’t break in your hand if your muddling gets too ambitious.
Take your muddler and press and twist it into the herbs gently. Don’t grind into the glass--you aren’t trying to tear the herbs to smithereens (unless you prefer to chew your cocktails). The end goal is to release the oils of the herbs into the core of the drink.
Build the remaining ingredients of the drink on top of the muddled herbs or fruit and shake.