I was having this conversation with a writer about my new book on cocktail technique last week, and she got on the subject of bar tools. “A lot of this stuff is really expensive,” she said, “Do you have any advice for home cocktail enthusiasts who don’t want to spend a ton of money?”
And I was thinking, you know, like – she’s right. Bar tools are super expensive, and there are some places where you can skimp, and some places where you can’t. Like, you just won’t find a substitute for a good 18/8 stainless steel cocktail shaker. A cheap one from the liquor store just isn’t going to do the job.
But there are other areas where you can have great bar tools for not a ton of money. Like, my first piece of advice when I’m posed this question is to use a plastic chopstick from a Chinese restaurant instead of an expensive bar spoon. They’re actually easier to use, and they cost very little (free, if you just steal one). Sure, they’re not very stylish, but they’ll do the job every bit as well as a $30 bar spoon.
But then I remembered my favorite muddler – the one I made myself. See, there are all sorts of wonderful muddlers made of exotic African hardwood out there that will set you back $40 if you want to go that route. But the best, easiest to use, most stylish wooden muddler in my bar bag cost me all of $5, which is about as cheap as those pieces of shit they sell next to the register at pretty much every liquor store in the world. And that, my friends, is my ten inch, maple, French rolling pin muddler.
This couldn’t be easier to do, seriously. Get yourself an inexpensive 20 inch French rolling pin. The kind with the tapered ends.
Measure halfway, ten inches from one side.
Then, simply cut it in half (ask an adult for help with this, kids).
Lightly sand both cut ends until smooth, and then finish with food grade mineral oil. You’ve just spent $11.26 on two muddlers that will last you years, and you can split the cost with a friend if you’re extra broke.
You’ve got a narrow end for lightly muddling herbs, and a wide end for mashing the heck out of some limes for a tasty Caipirinha.
There you go, cheapskates! The good news is that you can allay some of your shame with the knowledge that this is seriously one of the best muddlers you’ll ever use. Enjoy.