The paddle attachment of a stand mixer excels at beating batters and doughs, but we found it’s also great for mixing up another treat: muddled cocktails.
Muddling releases potent oils locked in citrus peels and fresh herbs. Done properly (not too aggressively), the technique can suffuse cocktails with brighter, fresher flavor than infused syrups. A mojito—the refreshing Cuban cooler—is a prime example: White rum and a splash of club soda are transformed by lime wedges, mint and sugar that have been melded together with a muddler.
But a haphazardly muddled mojito can be bitter or grassy if the herbs are torn or the citrus is overworked. And scaling up a recipe for a crowd can be a complicated endeavor that yields too little juice and makes a mess of the mint leaves.
This is where a stand mixer and its paddle attachment come in handy. The flat beater evenly (and effortlessly) extracts the juices and oils from citrus and mint; hygroscopic sugar helps draw out moisture from the mixture, forming a viscous, flavorful syrup in the mixer’s bowl—no water added.
For Milk Street’s batch mojitos, we chopped the limes to help them break down more easily in the mixer. Four cups of mint leaves gave our syrup an intensely fresh flavor. A pinch of kosher salt, added along with the sugar, functioned in the same way does in baking recipes—enhancing the syrup’s sweetness by curbing the perception of bitterness. Mixing for two minutes or more made the mint bitter; about a minute was just right.
Straining the mixture produced a cloudy fluorescent-green syrup that was as tart as it was sweet, without any stray bits of mint. Mixing the syrup in a pitcher with white rum gave us the base for a bright, bracing cocktail. Generously garnished with sprigs of mint, poured over a full glass of ice and topped with club soda, our mojito rivaled those we’ve enjoyed under the paddle fans of Calle Ocho in Little Havana. All it needed was a swizzle stick.