Episode 036 - Muddler Mania

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Interview with Brendan Donovan of Muddled and Rolled

Welcome back to another episode of the Modern Bar Cart Podcast. I’m your host, Eric Kozlik, and this episode is a part of our Bar Cart Hardware series, where we take a deep dive into the equipment that you need to make great drinks.

I ran across Brendan Donovan of Muddled and Rolled on social media, and I was really drawn in by the beauty of the muddlers that he made. And, since I was always that kid in woodshop who got a B- for effort, but not results, I was curious to learn about how these beautiful muddlers actually got made--and then how to use them properly.

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Brendan is a really fun dude to chat with, and you can tell just how passionate he is about his craft. Some of the things we discuss in this episode include:

  • How a handcrafted muddler is turned and assembled
  • Different approaches to muddling certain ingredients, from sugar to citrus, and beyond
  • The ergonomics of the muddling process, and how muddler shape affects results
  • Why Brendan enjoys craft cocktails despite a limited ability to perceive flavor
  • A few speculations about Nicola Tesla’s elderly affinity for pigeons
  • And much, much more

This was a really fun episode to record, and to show you just how much we love you all, we’re gonna do a social media giveaway of one of Brendan’s gorgeous muddlers. So, if you’re not following @modernbarcart on Instagram, you should be. We’ll be announcing this contest on Thursday, February 15, 2018 (the day this episode first airs), and we’ll select a winner by the end of the day on Friday. So, get excited, and stay tuned to your Insta feed for a chance to win.

Featured Cocktail - The Whiskey Smash

Our featured cocktail is none other than the Whiskey Smash, and this is a very easy drink to make if you’ve got some mint and lemon around because about the only other ingredients are sugar and whiskey. To be more specific, you need:

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  • 2 oz whiskey (rye or bourbon here)
  • ½ oz lemon juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • Mint (with some reserved for a garnish)

You’re going to muddle your simple syrup and your mint in the bottom of a cocktail shaker, then add ice, lemon juice, and whiskey. At that point, you shake until chilled, strain into your glass of choice, and garnish with another sprig of mint.

This drink is halfway between a whiskey sour and a mint julep, and it’s a super easy crowd pleaser to break out when the weather warms up and you fire up the grill with some guests.

Lightning Round

Favorite Cocktail

The Old Fashioned

Favorite Spirit


Cocktail with Anyone, Past or Present

Old Fashioneds with Nikola Tesla in 1942 at the New Yorker. I'd want to tell him that what he did made a different...and ask him why he was somewhat obsessed with pigeons toward the end of his life.

Influential Books

The Alaskan Bootlegger's Bible by Leon Kania

Advice to New Home Bartenders

Learn not just how to perform those basic foundational tasks, but learn WHY you're performing them. Because later that's going to be real relevant when you decide well, should I do this, should I not do this, should I do this in a different way? If you've always been very phonetic about how you've performed a task without that deep understanding, it's going to limit your ability to really innovate later.