Three Best Cocktail Recipes Using a Muddler, Courtesy of James Bumbery of Pour in Mount Kisco

In a muddle: James Bumbery of Pour and his go-to tool for mixing cocktails.



In the way that the letters BC and AD separate historical eras, so should BMM (Before Mad Men) and AMM (After Mad Men) denote eras of cocktails. For American drinkers, the AMC show was a landmark that reignited our latent love for sweet, bitters-haunted whiskey drinks like Manhattans. At Pour, Mount Kisco’s moody wine and cocktail bar, James Bumbery’s drinks fall securely in the After Mad Men epoch: They’re as masculine, cool, and elegant as Don Draper’s impeccably tailored suit.

But the elegance of these drinks doesn’t mean that there isn’t heavy lifting involved in their creation. Often, you’ll see Bumbery behind Pour’s candle-lit bar, literally bashing the flavor out of his ingredients with a muddler. This tool—essentially, a miniature bat—is used to extract juices and flavorful oils from fruits and herbs. It also aerates drinks and blends ingredients while pulverizing sugar.

One could spend lots of money on titanium, graphite, or stainless-steel muddlers, but Bumbery claims to be “tool neutral.” He makes do with a basic wooden muddler that sells for less than $10 at restaurant-supply or kitchenware stores. Barring a special trip to purchase a muddler, Bumbery recommends that home bartenders get inventive. “Look, if you were stranded on a desert island, you’d make your drink with the cleanest-looking stick you could find. At Pour, I used to use a spoon. I’m not super-picky about tools.”

Sazerac Cocktail (Recipe)

Old ​Fashioned Cocktail (Recipe)

Plum Collins Cocktail (Recipe)

Julia Sexton is New York based restaurant critic, food writer and CRMA award winning blogger who, from experience, can swear to the quality of James Bumbery's drinks. Look for the debut of Sexton's book, Hudson River Valley Chef's Table, published this fall by Globe Pequot press.