Last Updated Apr 2019 – A muddler is an essential bar or kitchen tool to make cocktails or mocktails. When incorporating fresh fruits or herbs in our drinks, we should keep the texture harsh and visible enough for aesthetic purposes, yet squashed enough to allow them to mix with the drinks. That is where the muddler comes in, and it is an essential tool when you are making famous cocktails like Old-Fashioned and Mojito.
Seemingly a very simple tool without much essence, there is actually quite a wide range of varieties when choosing your own muddler. Thus, choosing the right one for your kitchen can indeed be a daunting task.
Before we delve further into our reviews, however, it is best to have a deeper understanding of the muddler. Let us begin by discussing the different types available in the market.
The Different Types of Muddler
Muddlers generally came in similar size and basic design. They are typically 6 to 8 inches long, the perfect size to reach the bottom of your average cocktail shaker or mixing glass. On the other hand, they are about 1 or 2 inches in diameter, making them easy to hold.
However, although the basic design is quite simple, they are made with different materials, each with their own benefits and disadvantages. Which one is the right fit for your kitchen or bar? Let us dig deeper into the different materials and their characteristics:
Muddlers are originally made of wood, and that is part of the reason they are still the most popular option nowadays. Wood muddlers are rather durable and quite versatile. For example, you can also use wood muddlers to crack ice cubes beside the usual fruit or herb squashing.
There are generally two basic shapes of wood muddlers: the first is a very straight design like a handbell, and the other like a smaller version of a baseball bat with a flat bottom. Both shapes are equally good, and it is simply a matter of preference.
The biggest downside for wood muddlers is that it is an organic material, and so you will need an extra care for its hygiene and sanitation. Bacteria and mold can grow easily on the wood material when not cleaned properly and can damage the muddler over time.
If you are using a wood muddler, here are a few tips to keep it hygiene:
- Always clean your wood muddler immediately after use. Some fruits can easily stain wood muddlers, so you will need an extra care
- Never leave a wood muddler in standing water, including dishwasher
- Wipe your wood muddler with dry cloth after cleaning it with water, and air dry it
In recent years, synthetic muddlers made of plastic, stainless steel, or other materials are quite popular. As you might have guessed, the biggest advantage of using plastic or stainless steel over wood is the sanitation.
The majority of synthetic muddlers come with the bat design, considering the fact that there is less friction with plastic or steel compared to woods. So, a bat design allows an easier grasp of the thinner end.
There are also synthetic muddlers with teeth-shaped designs at the bottom end. This design is actually quite useful to efficiently mash ingredients, like extracting juice from fruits.
Essentially, synthetic muddlers are easier to maintain. Many of them are dishwasher-safe, and there are virtually no staining from herbs of fruits.
The biggest downside of synthetic muddler for most bartenders is ‘feel’. Many are simply used to the organic feel of the wood muddlers, which is also an important part of food and drinks preparation. Wood muddlers are generally better for gentle mashing practices like squeezing delicate herbs and citrus fruits.
They are also great for cracking ice cubes, as mentioned. Plastic or steel muddlers, on the other hand, are better for crushing hard ingredients like nuts or squeezing berries.
As promised, here we will review three of the products we have tested, which in our opinion, are three of the best available in the market today.
Uber Bar Tools is simply one of the biggest names in the world of bartending tools. They have consistently delivered fantastic bartending tools products over the years, and the ProCrush Muddler definitely lives up to their big name.
The Uber Bar Tools ProCrush Muddler is a synthetic muddler following a baseball bat design. The handle part is made of stainless steel, while the flat bottom is plastic with teeth-shaped design on its end. Although it is relatively expensive, it offers extremely rich features compared to its competitors. In our opinion, a worthy investment worth every penny.
The patented ProGrip handle is a really nice feature to have, where your thumb goes inside the upper hole ensuring stable grip. This bat-shaped end can also be used as an amazing ice-crusher, which can break the toughest of ice cubes easily.
The bottom end, as mentioned, is plastic, specially engineered to be very strong and durable. The teeth can quickly mash the toughest fruits while can also be effective for delicate herbs.
When the muddler wears out, you can easily unscrew the head and replace it with the new one. So, you won’t have to do another full purchase.
Here are what we liked and disliked from the product:
Pros and Cons
- Very durable, and when it does wear out, you simply need to replace the head
- ProGrip to ensure a stable grip and prevents tiredness and strain
- Versatile can also be used as an ice crusher.
- Can break the toughest of fruits while also squeeze delicate herbs
- Easy to maintain and dishwasher-safe
- Relatively wide at the bottom, can prevent juice from splashing back to your face or shirt
- Relatively expensive, if not one of the most expensive options in the market
The Uber Bar Tools ProCrush is definitely the sports car of muddlers. It is indeed quite expensive, but a worthy investment with rich features, great durability, and excellent overall quality. If budget is not an issue, there is simply no flaw with the ProCrush Muddler. A high-end muddler worth every penny.
While in the first review above we have discussed a stainless steel muddler, this time we will discuss a high-end organic muddler. The Mojito Muddler is technically not a wooden muddler, but rather made of professional-grade bamboo. Bamboo as a material is increasingly popular nowadays, it is naturally stronger than hardwood while being relatively cheaper.
As we have mentioned above, a common issue with organic muddlers is sanitation. However, the Mojito Muddler tackled this issue with two approaches: first, the bamboo material is naturally anti-bacterial, which is also a quality that made it a popular material today. Second, it is carbonized to make it easy to clean, and the porous surface won’t fill with brackish water over time.
Another unique thing about the Mojito Muddler is its length, being 11″ long. As mentioned, most muddlers are only 6-8 inches long. Although 8″ muddlers, in most cases, are long enough for most mixing glasses, the extra length is a nice feature to have.
The Mojito Muddler is straight-shaped like a handbell, which in our opinion, fits well with its length. As we have mentioned, the best thing about organic muddlers is the overall feel, and how they can work better with more delicate herbs and flowers.
With those points being said, the Mojito Muddler brought out all those good qualities of organic muddlers, while eliminating the sanitary weakness. Simply one of the best choices if you are looking for an organic muddler.
Here are what we liked and disliked from the Mojito Muddler.
Pros and Cons
- Anti-bacterial, carbonized bamboo material, eliminates the weakness of organic muddlers of sanitary
- 11″ long, extra length to help with longer glasses and flasks
- Extremely versatile and can work with the most delicate herbs and fruits
- Lightweight and very durable
- Very easy to clean
- Not as useful as steel muddlers when working with tough fruits or ice cubes
- The length and overall size is sometimes an issue for those preferring a more compact muddler
If you are looking for an organic muddler, the Mojito Muddler is simply one of the best options available in the market. It brought out all the best qualities of organic muddlers: the responsive feel and the ability to work with delicate herbs. On the other hand, it eliminates the biggest weakness of organic muddlers of sanitation.
If our first reviewed product is a stainless steel/plastic muddler, and the second one is a rather unorthodox organic muddler using the bamboo material, this time we will discuss an all old-school, all-wooden muddler. As with the Mojito Muddler discussed above, the Fletcher’s Mill Muddler is also 11″ long, which is rather unusual. As we have also mentioned, the extra length is always a nice feature to have, as long as it’s not too bulky overall.
We have mentioned how the Mojito Muddler can feel a little bulky with the straight design. However, the Fletcher’s Mill Muddler is ergonomically shaped, following a modified baseball-bat design. As a result, it is more comfortable to handle, putting less strain on your arm and hand.
The Fletcher’s Mill Muddler is fully made of solid, handcrafted American hardwood. The durability is definitely unquestionable, however, as we have discussed, wood materials will always have the sanitary issue. So, you will need an extra care, especially when cleaning the Fletcher’s Mill Muddler. As long as you keep the Fletcher Mill’s Muddler clean after each use, and let it air-dry properly, you won’t have too many problems with sanitary.
The really good thing about the Fletcher’s Mill Muddler is that it is totally versatile, especially for a wooden muddler. You can use it to squeeze the most delicate herbs while being strong enough to crush tough ice cubes. This is thanks to the kiln-dried maple hardwood material, which is really strong. It is, however, not coated, so you can season it with mineral oil from time to time.
The ergonomic handle helps really well with its versatility, as it won’t put too much stress even when you are crushing the toughest ingredients or a block of ice.
Here are what we liked and disliked from the Fletcher’s Mill Muddler.
Pros and Cons
- Very strong, handcrafted American hardwood, does not stain and crack easily
- Very versatile, can be used for the most delicate herbs and crush tough ice blocks
- 11″ long, can reach the bottom of tallest glasses and flasks
- Ergonomic design, putting less stress on your hands and arms
- The hardwood material is not coated, you may want to season it with mineral oil
- Still have sanitary issues, as with all wooden muddlers
If you are looking for an all-wooden muddler, the Fletcher’s Mill Muddler is simply the best of its class. It is exceptionally strong and versatile for almost all your muddling needs, and the extra length further helps with its versatility.
The only major downside is the usual sanitary issue of wooden muddlers. So, you will need an extra care, especially when cleaning it. Overall, an excellent choice for those who prefer wooden muddlers.
Bottom Line and Tips
In our reviews above, we have covered a stainless-steel/plastic muddler, a bamboo organic muddler, and an all-wooden muddler. All three have exceptional qualities, so choosing between the three is simply a matter of preference. We have also discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the three. So, we hope you can make a better purchase decision with our review.
Below, we will also share a few tips on how to use your muddler better:
- Remember not to muddle in a shaker with a plastic bottom. They are prone to crack easily, even under the lightest pressure
- Always muddle before adding ice, which can potentially over dilute the drink. Also, the ingredients you intend to muddle will not be properly muddled
- Remember to always clean your muddler after each use, even for synthetic muddlers, and let it air dry. This will help with their longevity
Overall, it is a good idea to have both a synthetic muddler and organic muddler. No matter how versatile a muddler is, an organic, and even more an all-wooden muddler will work better for delicate ingredients. On the other hand, synthetic muddlers are generally always better for harder ingredients.
Image Credit: Fletchers Mill