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A nonslip grip and extra height make the OXO Good Grips Steel Muddler our top choice. Plus, since it's stainless steel and nylon, it won't stain or absorb odors. If you're stocking your first home bar or need a spare muddler, the HQY 8-Inch Stainless Steel Cocktail Muddler will help you make cocktails for less than a cocktail.
Good shakers and great glasses are all crucial parts of your home bar, but what about a stellar muddler? An excellent muddler will help you mash your way to mojitos, caipirinhas, and more, as well as incorporate all manners of fruits, herbs, and other spices into your drinks. Muddlers come in a range of different sizes, types, and especially finishes. You can find beautiful lacquered wood ones, modern stainless steel muddlers, or sleek thick plastic ones.
But which one is best for your home bar? A slate of professional bartenders weigh in to help narrow down your search. Plus, they give advice on muddling style so you create a deliciously complex cocktail without any off-flavors.
Read on for the best cocktail muddlers.
Best Overall: OXO Good Grips Steel Muddler
Longer than the average muddler
Soft, comfortable grip
Sharp teeth easily over-muddle herbs
Pricier than other muddlers
OXO is highly regarded as one of the best brands for top-quality kitchen gadgets at prices that don’t bust budgets. This unusually shaped muddler is particularly great for muddling herbs and sugar, including thicker varieties used in tropical drinks. It features a soft, rounded surface at the tip that sits comfortably in your palm and allows you to apply pressure and twist the muddler with ease. The die-cast zinc handle and nylon head are specifically constructed to protect glasses when muddling and prevent scratches or cracks. A soft, comfortable grip makes it easy to crush flavors and ingredients.
This muddler is a bit longer than a standard muddler, so it's a great choice if you have a larger cocktail shaker or deeper glass. The muddler stands 1.5 inches in diameter and 9 inches in length. Cleanup is easy, too. Simply pop it in the dishwasher.
Material: Stainless steel | Length: 9 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
“I would say the best tip I have for muddling is to always press your muddler down and give a little twist as you make contact with whatever you're muddling,” says Rochelle Tougas, General Manager of the FM Kitchen & Bar in Houston. “I tend to also keep it going in a full circle when I muddle, by which I mean I go around the clock as I pick up the muddler to macerate more, rather than macerating in the center over and over.”
Best Budget: HQY 8-Inch Stainless Steel Cocktail Muddler
Won’t absorb flavors
Good weight in the hand
Might be too short for some shakers
Muddled materials can get caught in teeth
If you want a high-quality cocktail muddler for less than an actual cocktail, then the HQY Stainless Steel Muddler will more than deliver. This 8-inch tool gets high marks for comfort and ease of use, and reviewers claim that the wide plastic base effectively crushes fruit and herbs for cocktail-making purposes. Also, since this model is made of stainless steel, it can be cleaned in the dishwasher, saving you from grappling with a sponge to get muddled bits and pieces out of the base.
This muddler’s sleek silhouette makes it an attractive addition to any bar cart. If you’re just getting into cocktail-making or want to keep a low-cost but well-designed extra muddler on hand, the HQY Stainless Steel Muddler is sure to satisfy.
Material: Stainless steel | Length: 8 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
“Never over-muddle,” says Wael Deek of New York City’s Osteria 57. “You will mess up the drink. Muddling is the best extract for essence and to bring out the profile from herbs.”
Best for Cocktail Enthusiasts: Cocktail Kingdom Bad Ass Muddler
Two sides for versatile muddling
Grippable, anti-slip sides
This dual-sided tool works two-fold: A rounded side allows for softer muddling (think mint that bruises easily), while a reversed hard edge kicks in for tougher jobs. The muddler has textured, easy-to-grip sides that prevent it from slipping out of your hand, even when the surface is wet or sticky. Note that this muddler has a larger surface area than most, letting you crush ingredients in larger glasses. It stands 1.25 inches in diameter and 9.75 inches long.
“This muddler is great because you don’t get the chips from a wooden muddler,” says Jose Medina Camacho of the award-winning Automatic Seafood and Oysters in Birmingham, Alabama. “And, it lasts forever and is easy to clean.”
Material: Plastic | Length: 9.75 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for Bartenders: A Bar Above Ergonomic Drink Muddler
Too large for a standard rocks glass
Bottom is slightly curved
At 12 inches in length, this muddler is one of the longest on the market, which helps keep hands from knocking the side of the glass. The smooth end of the muddler also prevents herbs from being broken down too harshly or turning bitter.
“Remember that muddling does not mean pulverizing,” says Catrina Franzoi of WindsorEats in Windsor, Ontario. “This is not an area to let out aggression—save that for the shaking. When the smell of what you're muddling hits you, stop.”
This muddler's ergonomic design is comfortable—perfect for a busy bartender who's muddling many drinks per night. The durable material is designed to last for years of cocktail hours. Throw it in the dishwasher when you’re done for easy cleanup.
Material: Plastic | Length: 12.5 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
“I like to muddle into my syrup rather than muddle ingredients on their own,” says Amber Pollock of Backward Distilling Company in Casper, Wyoming. “Also, your muddling technique should change based on what you're muddling. Be gentle with fragile ingredients, like mint or basil. No need to destroy them. A light press will do.”
Best For Mint Leaves: Hudson and Lane Wooden Cocktail Muddler
Not made of real walnut
On the shorter side
When muddling herbs like mint and basil, a muddler that can extract the fragrant oils from these leaves without grinding them too aggressively (and releasing bitter notes) is an ideal choice. That’s why we recommend the smooth-based wooden muddler from Hudson and Lane for mojitos, mint juleps, and other botanical cocktails. Reviewers claim that this muddler’s smooth wooden handle is easy to securely grasp in the palm, and the base has the right width to exact even pressure over the leaves. Also, this muddler’s walnut varnish is an elegant addition to any bar setup.
Since the Hudson and Lane muddler is made of wood, running it through the dishwasher is not advised. However, the company assures buyers that “the durable commercial grade materials make cleaning a breeze, and quality craftsmanship ensures years of use.”
Material: Wood | Length: 8 inches | Dishwasher Safe: No
“Keep hardwood muddlers in good shape with mineral oil,” advises H. Joseph Ehrmann, proprietor of Elixir in San Francisco. “Just like a cutting board.”
Most Versatile: Winco Wooden Muddler Lacquered Walnut
Ideal for fragile ingredients, like herbs
Lacquer can chip off over time
Hard to grip when wet
“To muddle multiple ingredients, you need a versatile muddler,” says Nate Fishman, a bartender at Liquor Lab in New York City and ambassador for Santera Tequila. “A wooden muddler lets you extract the flavor of everything from herbs to spices. If you want to find a muddler to use specifically for cocktails, a wooden muddler—lacquered hardwood with a flat end—is best.”
This affordable option is designed specifically for the rigorous demands of hospitality professionals. It's incredibly easy to clean, too, as the lacquer protects the wood from being porous. All you have to do is wash, rinse, and dry. However, since it's lacquered, it may get slick when wet. When preparing drinks, Fishman notes that muddling is always based on the ingredient rather than the cocktail and that it's best to muddle the ingredient alone before adding any liquids.
Nate Fishman recommends two to four light presses for mint; six to eight for berries, cucumber, and ginger; and ten to 12 for citrus.
Best Bamboo: HIC Harold Import Co. Natural Bamboo Mojito Muddler
More sustainable than other types of wood
Easy to handle
Delicate bamboo is prone to cracking
Needs to be hand-washed
As the tropical drink resurgence continues to grow and expand throughout the cocktail world, bamboo bar gear has never been more popular (and more Instagrammable). That rule certainly extends to muddlers, which is why bamboo versions are in plenty of demand these days. If you’d like to bring a taste of the tropics to your bar cart, consider the HIC Natural Bamboo Muddler, a reasonably-priced model with lots of retro flair.
Reviewers like this muddler’s 8.5-inch length, which makes it more appropriate for full-sized shakers than its 8-inch competitors. They also praise the fact that the muddler is made of unfinished wood, which eliminates any problems with chipped and bleeding varnish. The muddler’s light weight does mean that you’ll need to put more force into your muddling efforts, but the textured base helps bring some extra oomph.
Material: Wood | Length: 8.5 inches | Dishwasher Safe: No
A nonslip grip and extra height make the OXO Good Grips Steel Muddler our top choice. Plus, since it's stainless steel and nylon, it won't stain or absorb odors. Meanwhile, bartenders swear by Cocktail Kingdom’s Bad Ass Muddler, noting the two sides will make quick work of any and every ingredient you’re looking to muddle.
What to Look for When Buying a Cocktail Muddler
Materials matter. Wood with lacquer, paint, or other finishes may add an aesthetic appeal, but over time, they will likely chip off and land in your drink. Opt for high-quality, food-safe polypropylene or natural wood.
If you purchase a wooden muddler, extend its life by taking proper care of it. Just like you would a wooden cutting board, oil the muddler with grapeseed or olive oil to prevent it from drying out. Wash a wooden muddler via hand.
Consider that you’re going to put this muddler to work. You want one that will fit snugly in your hand while muddling down ingredients. With that in mind, look for a muddler with an ergonomic design and heavy weight, making it less stressful on your muscles to grind down herbs, spices, and fruits.
How do you muddle a cocktail?
Start off by adding your ingredients to the glass. From there, gently press and twist the muddler over the bushels of herbs or spices. If you’re working with herbs, take care not to overwork the leaves, as over-muddling will leave you with bitter, tannic flavors rather than fresh herbaceous scents. When muddling spices, you can apply more pressure to release the fragrances.
Which cocktails need to be muddled?
The classic muddled cocktails are mojitos and caipirinhas. That said, any cocktail that requires the addition of herbs and spices, like the raspberry lemon or ginger tea cocktail, could benefit from a muddle to express the flavors of the ingredients.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Kate Dingwall is a seasoned spirits and wine writer, working bartender, and sommelier. She is based in Toronto and holds a Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level III qualification. She has also written about the best cocktail shakers and margarita mixes for The Spruce Eats.