A muddler is a handy bar tool, used like a pestle to mash (aka muddle) fruits, herbs or spices in the bottom of a glass. This helps release and meld their flavors, the better to infuse your drink. It's kind of essential for an authentic mojito or caipirinha or mint julep. (It also comes in hand for beating back sneaky individuals who are constantly trying to filch tidbits off your cutting board.) This video
from Chowhound takes a pretty authoritative stance on how to properly use this smashing tool. I own the above version which I’m not that thrilled with because there is some sort of finish or varnish on it that comes off (into my drink?) so I suggest you find a naked wood one or maybe a metal one but maybe not one made of plastic when you make this classic mojito...
Having drunk quite a few mojitos sitting at the bar of the Hotel Nacional
in Havana, Cuba while listening to a band of swoonworthy studs play my request of "Contigo en la Distancia" (nothing
like Ms Aguilera's version), I can attest to this one's authenticity.
adapted from Eben Freeman's recipe
makes 1 drink
— 5 small mint leave sprigs for garnish
— 12 mint leaves
— 1 cup crushed ice
— 2 heaping teaspoons superfine sugar
— 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) fresh lime juice
— 2 ounces white rum (I like 10 Cane)
— 1 ounce club soda
In a highball glass, stir lime juice and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Add 1/4 cup crushed ice. Rub mint leaves over rim of glass, then add to glass and muddle gently for 15 seconds. Add rum, remaining crushed ice, and club soda. Gently stir for 5 seconds, then serve garnished with mint sprigs. Straw optional.