For well over a year I’ve been ripping drink recipes out of magazines and collecting them in an overstuffed 3-ring binder. This must indicate I’m an optimist at heart, because at this point I’ve got way more recipes stashed than I’ll likely ever get around to making. But occasionally I pull one out, round up the requisite ingredients, and have at it.
Like a lucky game show contestant being yanked from the audience, the Raspberry-Thyme Smash was plucked out of the pile and put through its paces. It was featured in the July ‘08 issue of Bon Appetit, and looked like a promising candidate for both a great Summer beverage and a way to convince myself I’m pursuing a healthy lifestyle (It contains fruit).
2 fresh thyme sprigs, divided
7 fresh raspberries, divided
2 1/4 oz. gin (Hendrick's is suggested)
1 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. fresh lime juice
Remove leaves from 1 thyme sprig. Place leaves in cocktail shaker with 6 raspberries and muddle. Fill shaker with ice and add gin, simple syrup, and lime juice. Shake vigorously and strain into ice-filled highball glass. granish with raspberry threaded onto thyme sprig.
Served at the BLT Market in New York
What I didn’t realize was that this drink had a secret ingredient: A giant muddler. Actually, I should state up front that I’m pretty certain what I have is not a muddler. I speculate that it is probably some kind of antique potato masher, but it pretty much resembles a muddler (assuming your bartender is a Norse god).
This gargantuan item, like much of my barware, came courtesy of my father who ran across it at a flea market. Upon presenting me with it, he claimed that neither he nor the seller knew what it was, but since it looked vaguely like a muddler (albeit of outsized proportions), he decided to pick it up for me.
Basically, it’s a 15-inch long cylinder of hardwood that flares at one end to a diameter of almost 2 inches. It weighs approximately a pound, and is completely devoid of any decoration or inscription that would give a clue as to its origins or purpose. Ever see those belaying pins that pirates are always clobbering each other with in the movies? It’s kinda like that.
But the important thing is that it muddles. It really freakin’ muddles. But it’s not so big that it doesn’t have room to maneuver in my mixing tin, and it’s considerable length keeps me from banging my knuckles against the rim. There’s also enough handle available to grip it in a variety of ways, so as far as I’m concerned, this thing is my new muddler.
But every time I pick it up* I feel compelled to bellow a plea to some pagan spirit and tear my shirt off (I make all drinks in the privacy of my own home, so mercifully no one will have to witness this awful spectacle).
So I take it as some sort of cosmic coincidence that the Muddler of the Gods™ showed up right around the time I found the Raspberry-Thyme Smash. The drink is wonderful, and everything a refreshing Summertime sipper should be. It is supremely balanced, and flavor-wise all the ingredients meld perfectly. So get some fresh raspberries while they’re still in season and try this one out!
And remember- when muddling, use your legs, not your back. And have a friend help you if necessary.
*something I was initially unable to do, until I began a rigorous weight-training regimen.