How to Muddle Herbs for Cocktails and Mocktails

Learn to muddle herbs for fantastic cocktails and mocktails. This simple technique releases amazing flavor for tasty summertime beverages with or without alcohol. Read on for tips on how to muddle, what to muddle and some tasty beverage recipes.
herb muddled drinks
Four refreshing beverages featuring muddled herbs from the garden. Try all the herbs – mint, thyme, sage, rosemary, lemon verbena, lemon balm, purple ruffle basil, basil, lemon thyme, lemon grass, etc.

Also Read : How to Make Simple Syrup & Herb Infused Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Simple Syrup, How to Make Tea with Fresh Herbs

HOW TO MUDDLE HERBS

muddling mint and sugar with back of spoon in jar
Using the back of a spoon to gently but firmly press mint against the jar just to release the aroma – not to shred the leaves.

WHAT IS MUDDLING

Muddling is when you gently and lovingly release aromatic oils from fruits and herbs. To release the aroma you can use a fancy cocktail muddler, the back of a tablespoon or the bottom end of a wooden spoon.

Muddling is NOT tearing, cutting, mincing, ripping or otherwise pulverizing herbs to bits and pieces. You do not want to smush herbs so hard that they become tiny bits or bleed green chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has a bitter flavour that you do not want in your drinks. And you certainly don’t want little bits of herbs stuck on your teeth – it’s just not that sexy!

torn basil leaves with green smudges on counter
Too much muddling is NOT good. It tears leaves into tiny bits and releases bitter chlorophyll – the green smudges you see on the counter. This muddling tool is great for fruit, but it can be too much for tender herbs. Flip it around and use the smooth round end instead or use the back of a spoon.

Muddle any herb that has a flavour you love – mint, lavender, lemon balm, rosemary, etc.  Also try some unexpected herbs like sage, basil and thyme – you’ll be amazed at the flavour when mixed into beverages.

purple ruffle basil and strawberries muddled in a glass
Experiment will all kinds of herbs and fruits. This is purple ruffle basil with strawberries. Makes a stunning burgundy coloured drink.

Basic Steps to Muddling

  1. Use a sturdy, thick walled glass, canning jar or cocktail shaker.
  2. Add herbs and a bit of sugar or simple syrup to bottom of glass.
  3. Add fruit if desired.
  4. Use a cocktail muddler, end of a wooden spoon or back of a tablespoon to gently but firmly press the herbs against the side of the glass, twist and repeat. Do not shred the herbs to bits and pieces – it can make your drink taste bitter and you’ll end up with tiny green bits that aren’t pleasant to drink.
  5. Just twist until you smell the aroma of the herb. That aroma will get stirred in to your beverage beautifully.
muddle thyme and lime
Muddling thyme and lime with a little bit of sugar in a sturdy glass with back of spoon.

HOW MUCH TO MUDDLE

Be kind and gentle and squeeze just until you smell the aroma of the herbs.

mint leaves on spoon showing good muddling
Well muddled herb leaves look bruised, but are still in tact. Release the flavour without shredding the leaves.

Stop if your leaves are starting to tear or you see green streaks on the bottom of the glass.

Easy does it!

Which of the following mojito mint beverages would you rather drink?

mojito with mint bits too muddled
Mojito mint that’s been over muddled. Little bits of green floating everywhere makes it hard to drink.
mojito mint with mint leaves still intact
Muddled mint leaves that are still mainly intact. Get all the flavour without mint stuck in your teeth!

MUDDLING DRINK RECIPES

The best way to learn is to try it! Here are some delicious recipes to experiment with. You’ll be an expert muddler before you know it.

lime thyme beverage
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Lime Thyme

A sophisticated drink with a deep flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 wedges fresh lime
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 3-4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Ice
  • Sparkling water or soda

Instructions

  • Squeeze juice from lime into thick, short tumbler. Add the lime wedges and additional lime juice into glass.
  • Add thyme and sugar into glass.
  • Muddle to release aroma.
  • Fill glass with ice. Top with soda.
  • Garnish with flower and mint.
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mojito mint with mint leaves still intact
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Sparkling Mint Lemonade

The perfect patio drink!

Ingredients

  • 5 leaves mint
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Ice
  • ¼ cup lemonade
  • Sparkling water or soda

Instructions

  • Place mint and sugar in short, thick glass.
  • Muddle to release aroma.
  • Fill glass with ice. Add lemonade, top with soda.
  • Garnish with flower and mint.
Tried this recipe?Mention @GetGettyS or tag #GetGettyS
sparkling berry and mint beverage
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Berry Basil Sparkler

Berry season is short! This drink uses tender basil and sweet berries to make a delicious and unique combination.

Ingredients

  • 5 leaves basil
  • 2-3 Tbsp whole/diced berries
  • 2-3 tsp simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Sparkling water or soda

Instructions

  • Place basil, berries and simple syrup in short, thick glass.
  • Muddle to squish berries and release flavour of basil.
  • Fill glass with ice. Add soda.
  • Garnish with basil leaves and a few fresh berries.
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NEXT LEVEL – SIMPLE SYRUP & HERB INFUSED SYRUP

Take things to the next level by adding simple syrups and Herb Infused Simple Syrup to your beverage making.

Simple syrup is sugar water. Instead of using granulated sugar or honey that don’t dissolve easily in ice cold beverages, you use simple syrup where the sugar has already been dissolved.

Go even a step further and use herb infused simple syrup. This is when sugar water is steeped with fresh herbs, so the simple syrup is flavoured with herbs. Seriously good stuff.

If you are making many beverages and don’t want to muddle every drink – use herb infused simple syrups instead.

Try making:

Pina Romera – pineapple juice with rosemary simple syrup

Blue Ginger Spritzer – blueberries with ginger and lemon grass simple syrup

Rhubarb Mojito – mint with rhubarb syrup

variety of herb infused simple syrup on table
Herb infused simple syrups quickly and easily add great flavour to summertime beverages.
Will you muddle herbs this summer? Which bevie will you try first? Comment below or if you make one of these recipes, share your photos with me on Instagram @getgettys or Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.
Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker, frequent media guest and writer dedicated to putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of several recipe books on enjoying and preserving fruit, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener. Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this.

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