Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What the Hell is a Muddle Anyway?

Be honest, your first thought when you read this title was "A non Magic.... er wait that's a 'Muggle'... what the hell is a muddle?"

Now I know some of you do know what it is, for the rest of I will try to enlighten you. But first, let me ramble for a bit.

When I was invited recently to a
Muddle Making Class at the Muddle Bar at deseo at Westin Kierland Resort, I was intrigued. Cocktails and mixology are, frankly, something I just do not know a lot about. I mostly stick to drinks like Jack and coke, or a nice stout or hefeweizen. Also, I often feel out of my element in higher end resorts and restaurants, but man, this just seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up. So up to Scottsdale I headed.

When I arrived at the Muddle Bar at deseo, I was struck by the richness of the ambiance. The winding staircase, the deep woods and leathers, yes this is the kind of place that you want to go unwind (Or as Colleen Chase
said a bit later upon eyeing the leather padded wall, "Fitting they would put us in a padded room"). A tad overwhelmed I entered the bar area and prepared to learn about making Mojitos.

Ahhh see, some of you were thinking the muddle was the drink, but in reality the muddle is a wooden stick, slightly resembling a miniature baseball bat that is used to "create exotic cocktails by smashing together the freshest of fruits and herbs to release their intense flavors"
. The muddling action causes the essential oils in the fruits and herbs to co-mingle and create a great 'pop'.

The most easily identifiable muddled drink today is a Mojito, which involves 'muddling' lime and mint, then adding ice and simple syrup (a mixture of equal parts water and sugar), and then rum.

As we bellied up the bar where a fresh mojito was waiting for us, the lesson began. We were quickly introduced to the origins of rum and the mojito. The word 'mojito' it was explained, is actually derived from the African word, 'mojo', which means 'to put a spell upon'. When you think of the effects rum can have, it certainly is a fitting term. We also learned that rum is creating by fermenting and distilling sugar cane, that true rum originated in Barbados, and that the different spiced rums of the world are created using the native plants of that particular region, which is what gives the different and unique flavors.

It was a very informative session which had the added bonus of Chef Douglas Rodriquez
hanging out in the bar and interjecting as he wanted to clarify a point here and there. Now some of you may hang out with chefs, all the time, I do not. So that was a pretty cool thing to me.

Just as I was adjusting to the fact that I was relaxing in this fantastic bar setting, sampling a drink that had just been made and placed before me, the second part of the muddle lesson began. You see, by taking the original recipe, just as in cooking, you can add on top of the base flavors to make something unique with depth and qualities all it's own. This time, the mojito was enhanced with the addition of fresh berries

This created a drink that tasted only partly similar to the original. I had always thought that each cocktail had it's own unique recipe, and the idea of just expounding on the original drink was completely foreign to me (although it makes perfect sense).

We then learned that the drink could be changed just by changing it up slightly, instead of a splash of soda water, just use a splash of champagne! Susie Timm certainly was a fan of this concept. instead of champagne, use orange juice. The concepts seem so simple, and yet, who knew? You? Certainly not me!

Oh, aaaannnd then, as if this wasn't enough to hook us in and make us want to return, they serve white truffle oil popcorn. I'll let you savor this thought.
As the lesson was wrapping up, it dawned upon me(and maybe it was mentioned) that this was only the amuse bouche if you will. Next we were to head into the dining room, for what what I had thought would only be a light sampling of ceviche, but it quickly became apparent that it would be another lesson all to itself...

So what the hell is a muddle? In a way, this first instincts of the 'Harry Potter' Universe are not so far off. It certainly seems to be a magical instrument. Now if I could just figure out how to get the muddle to make me some butterbeer!

I want to extend a sincere thanks to Phoenix Bites and the very hospitable staff at the Westin Kierland Resort for allowing me to partake in #Tasteofdeseo.

...to be continued


  1. Great post, Rodney. Did the bottom of your mixing glass conform to the shape of the muddler, or does that not matter? It would seem like you'd not get a good muddle if you were to have a muddler that was incongruous with the mixing glass.

  2. The muddle will generally be much smaller in diameter than the glass itself, with both being fairly flat bottomed. You want to crush the fruit and herbs slightly, to release the oils, but avoid complete maceration.