Bartender Cocktails: Brittany Chapman of Grille 401's Red Cougar and Açaí Mojito

As annoying as it may be for bartenders -- it takes precious time away from serving other customers -- muddling fresh fruit and herbs makes a huge difference in cocktails.

From traditional mojitos to ubiquitous new specialties like cucumber basil martinis, freshly pressed ingredients are available all over the place these days, and frankly, we think it's fantastic.

The only problem is the $14-a-pop price tag. A that price, you want to make sure you understand what you're getting into.

See also: Bartender Q&A: Brittany Chapman of Grille 401 on Grey Goose and Vodka and Her Least Favorite Bar Customers

To help you on your very own muddling spree, bar manager Brittany Chapman of Grille 401 gave us a couple of recipes for a couple of the bar's signature drinks, the Red Cougar with vodka, strawberry, and basil and the açaí mojito, a spin on the classic Cuban concoction.

Red Cougar

Muddle five fresh strawberries

One ounce simple syrup

Half ounce fresh lemon juice

Two ounces Stolichnaya Vodka

One basil leaf

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail mixer with ice and shake vigorously. Strain and pour into a martini glass and top with a splash of soda. Garnish with a basil leaf and a fresh strawberry.

For a perfectly chilled martini, add ice and water to the martini glass while you're making the drink. Toss the mixture away when you're ready to pour the cocktail into the glass.

Açaí Mojito

Muddle fresh mint and half a lime

3/4-ounce simple syrup

One ounce Cedilla açaí liqueur

One and half ounces Bacardi Silver rum

Muddle the mine and lime in a tall glass. Add the remaining ingredients, stir, and add ice. Top it off with a splash of soda water.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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