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Muddling motivation 

Well, I think we all agree it's summer again. The heat of the world forces me to admit to myself that it may, in fact, be time for a Mojito. Judging from the last couple weeks at the bar, some of you feel the same way.

Speaking as a barkeep, there are few drink orders as unsettling as this in a packed bar. All it takes is one and the virus spreads faster than the zombie plague. Admittedly, the (sometimes more than barely perceptible) wince on the part of some bartenders following such an order has led to a stigma regarding muddled drinks. Oh well. Some bank tellers hate counting loose change, too. The point we're going to explore is why muddled drinks are so exciting, and if, in fact, there is a time and place for them.

These cocktails provoke us with the combination of the visible spectacle of muddling, and the explosion of exciting aromatics that occur. I believe a truly great cocktail is imbibed three times before it hits the lips. First is within the mind as one orders and begins to anticipate the great flavors forthcoming. Next, the eyes drink in each element of the concoction as they are woven together before you. Lastly, and I feel most importantly, the nose preempts your taste buds with tales of what's to come. It only makes sense then that a muddling of ingredients would provide just the theatrical experience that one requires to connect with a cocktail on the deepest level.

As for the time and place, the answer is simple. Just like great restaurants showcase food that's at its freshest and ingredients that are seasonally correct, so should we order our drinks. Yes, I'm sorry to say that drinks like Mojitos with their bright spearmint, fresh citrus and white rum should be enjoyed now. Not in November. During the colder months, try experimenting with heartier fruits, dark spirits and spices. Seasonal drinking starts to build rituals for you and your friends, and helps you maintain focus to master a few drinks at a time. One last bit of advice: Crush the fruit first then lightly bruise the herbs. Unless, of course, green teeth are your thing.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your muddling.

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