Just like the right accessories for your favorite outfit, the trend in cocktails is the more embellished, the better. Any trained chef will tell you that the presentation is almost as important as the taste. We have wanted to write this post for more than a year, but always seemed to have a more urgent recipe or idea that we wanted to share with you. Once we started exploring the idea of cocktail garnishing we realized that this topic goes much deeper than a cute umbrella in your pina colada! This post is going to focus on some common and easy ways to garnish a cocktail.
In our Orange Basil Spritzer, we glazed some blood red oranges with some sugar and a creme brulee torch. Then we added a whole basil leaf as a float.
First you want to make sure that the aroma and the flavor of your garnish pairs well with your drink. You don’t want to stick a cube of cheese with tequila based cocktail or pair watermelon with a bloody Mary. Or maybe you do?
In our Orange Anejo Sour we use the froth from the egg white to help our slice of orange float.
There are a variety of items that you have around your kitchen that can easily be used or purchased to give your cocktails a little extra flair. Here are some of our favorite choices for garnish.
Use Fresh Fruit. The easy choices are fresh fruits. Place a slice of citrus, such as, a lime wheel or a slice a pineapple on the edge of the glass. It is simple, but still adds a pleasing visual to your cocktails that entices the senses.
The layering effect of the wine, square ice cube and a dehydrated lime wheel give an interesting visual for our fall cocktail the Rojo.
Use citrus peels. Using the peel of citrus is a very popular way to garnish cocktails. Use a peeler to peel off a piece of the peel. You can simply plop the peel into the cocktail or you can ribbon it through with a cocktail skewer for a fancier look. Fine ribbons of peel are popular to use. You can spiral them around the glass or twist them around a skewer into a cute little spiral. We have even seen bartenders take citrus peels and fold them like origami into cute sculptures to place on the edge of a glass.
In the Spiced Manhattan we ribboned a lemon peel through a skewer and added some Luxardo cherries.
Use berries. While we are on the topic of fruit, don’t forget about fresh or frozen berries. Berries can easily be placed on a skewer, toothpick or just plopped in the glass or pitcher as a float. Berries are one of the easiest ways to add color and some added appeal to a cocktail.
Use fresh herbs. Sprigs of fresh herbs also make a great garnish. Not only is this an easy garnish to use– all you have to do is snip it and place it in the drink. We love to use fresh herbs in the summer. We just go out to our garden snip a few herbs and head back inside — instant garnish. Herbs that we often use for garnish are: thyme, basil, rosemary, and mint.
Use vegetables. Vegetables are often forgotten as a garnish for cocktails, but can make a very effective display. One of our go-to vegetables to use is cucumber. We like add slices or long strips of cucumber to summer drinks. Other great vegetables to use for garnish are carrot strips, pickles, asparagus, celery, tomatoes (yes, its a fruit…), and little baby corns.
Double Thyme is garnished with fresh thyme and a sliver of cucumber.
Bacon, peppers, celery, and shrimp anything goes in this Bloody Mary.
Don’t forget the ice! The kind of ice you choose and what you put into the ice can also be used to impress your guests with a very visual cocktail. We share some of our ideas about ice with you years ago in our Ice, Ice Baby post.
A flag and a moon shaped ice cube finish the look of the Moon Walk.
Berries, fresh mint and a heart stirring stick layer the garnish for the Raspberry Mojito.
Use fun trinkets. You can use non-edibles in your cocktail, like colorful straws, cute stirrers, cocktail umbrellas or other funny little trinkets.
The Menta Daiquiri looks like a party on the beach with a cute umbrella.
Make sure to layer. The real artwork in garnishing comes from layering several of these ideas together into a spectacular visual display. Depending on the look you are going for, the crazier the better.
It’s all in the details. Whether you are serving a glass of sparkling water or a bloody Mary to your guests, take time to prep for a special garnish. It makes any beverage look best dressed and makes your guests feel a little more pampered. What is your signature garnish? We would love to hear your ideas. Look for future posts on garnishes. We still have more ideas to share with you.