Throw as many cherries as possible into any Fourth of July picnic, it’ll make the scene more summery. Throw the phrase “muddled cherries” into the mix and it becomes the kind of picnic summer nostalgia hangs onto during colder winter nights. With a wooden muddle and some pressing and twisting, it’s easy to be the sage of summer cocktails.
A wooden muddle is a must-have summer bar tool. It’s the best way to celebrate summer fruit (like cherries) and backyard herbs. This simple tool lets the backyard become its own summer escape. Put the picnic table out, dust off the lawn chairs, and get ready to see what summer’s bounty is intended for – muddled cocktails.
The point of muddling is basic: crushing. Muddle an herb, a fruit, anything juicy and delicious and add alcohol and ice. Spices can be muddled too, but it will take more effort and time. The important trick is that all muddling should happen before liquid is added.
The effect of muddling is to release flavors, so the technique requires a little finesse to properly press down and twist with awareness about the ingredient and how much pressure it requires.
Why bother muddling? Muddling makes the drink (and hopefully the drinker) more mindful of ingredients. It makes the drink more cared for. Face it, drinking is better when there’s a touch of care and craftsmanship. A shot of well vodka has a chaser for a reason; curate liquor, attend to that spirit, and the luxury and artistry that’s possible with basic and simple care opens up.
Full flavor cannot always be extracted by mixing, stirring, or blending. Throwing a mint leaf into a mojito and letting that leaf float is not the same as tearing the leaf and gently bruising the mint to extract oils and aroma. Pressing and twisting, with the aid of a muddler tool, elevates the drink by fully incorporating the ingredient into the drink.
Many muddler devotees advocate a wooden muddler that is, much like a cast-iron skillet, seasoned from use. For an ultra cool muddler, check out PUG, a stylish muddler that’s crafted to gently fit the hand and attend to the most fragile ingredients.
With basic muddling down, get back to summer simplicity: summer BBQS, summer cherries, and backyard lounging. Take a day trip to Bakersfield, CA and pick fresh cherries at Murray’s Family Farm. This farm’s Big Red Barn, right off of Highway 58, has great cherry prices for U-Pick cherries. Call (661) 330-0100 to see what’s ripe and find out more information. Fresh cherries, like the muddler, elevates summer cocktails and makes all of summer feel more like a get away.
For the Fourth of July, keep it really simple and give homage to cherry pie. Here’s an easy cherry cocktail to get started with muddling:
In a tall glass or bar shaker, muddle up some Bing cherries, add and bruise some tarragon with the muddler. Then pour simple syrup and brandy over these muddled ingredients. Give this a gentle stir with a long spoon and pour (using a cocktail strainer to get the flavor without all the lumps) this easy drink into a glass with ice. Offer cheers for successful muddling and amazing summer cherries.