A cleaner way to muddle

It looks a lot like the kickstand on your kid's bicycle, but it's a bar gadget: a muddler, used to crush fresh fruit, herbs and spices -- such as are necessary for some of the best summer drinks. The idea is to release the oils and juices before shaking or stirring with other ingredients. Although traditional muddlers are wooden, stainless-steel ones are often favored by chefs and bartenders because they're cleaner. Wood can easily absorb -- and therefore transfer -- flavors, something to watch out for these days when drink recipes call for muddling ingredients as varied as cucumbers and Scotch bonnet peppers.

Endurance Mojito Muddler $6.95 plus shipping and handling at www.cheftools.com.

-- Amy Scattergood

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