Best Dressed Drinks

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.

Layered effect with an orange wedge, cranberries and sprig of rosemary in the Holiday Aperol Spritz.

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.

The Savannah Special is garnished with rosemary and a blackberries.

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.

Basil, strawberries and an American flag garnish the Strawberry Basil Margarita.

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.

The Reverse Manhattan is enhanced by a simple skewer of Luxardo cherries.

 

 

 

Ice, Ice, Baby!

Baby, is it cold outside where you are?  It has been a little chilly in Texas this week, and as we look at the weather map, that is true about much of the country.  In fact, ice is even in the forecast for the Dallas/Fort Worth area tomorrow.  In honor of the cold weather, we are going to talk with you about ice.

You might think, “Ice?  What is there to talk to about with ice?”  Well, my friends, in the world of beverages, believe it or not, ice is a HOT trend.  We shared some information with you about ice back in August when we commemorated the eclipse.  This week we will look at ice and how it can change the taste and the look of your beverage.

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It’s got the look.  One reason that ice has become a hot trend in the cocktail world is that the size and shape of your ice portrays a certain image or attitude for a cocktail. It is an easy way to garnish your beverage and instantly amp up the appeal.

sphere

Gin with sphere ice

Using a sphere of ice is a big trend in many restaurants and upscale bars. We showed you in August how you can join in on this trend by  purchasing some less expensive sphere molds, such as the Neptune Ice Ball tray  or going high-end and purchasing one from Sharper Image or Williams Sonoma!

Another trend is to use large cubes. We have a mold that is similar to the one that you can purchase at Target.  We’ve also seen similar molds at World Market and Home Goods.

The large cubes not only give your drink a clean and sophisticated look, they also have a practical purpose.  By containing less surface area, the larger cubes melt much more slowly. Thus keeping your drink cool without watering down the taste. The larger cubes are typically used with classic cocktails like a boulevardier or if you want to drink a spirit neet.  No one likes the taste of a watered down cocktail, right?

boulevardier cube

Boulevardier with 2 inch cube ice

 

Crushed ice is great for beverages that you want to keep really cold.  Rhonda is a sucker for Sonic drinks, and all of the credit definitely goes to the ice.  The combination of the crushed Sonic ice with the styrofoam cup keeps the drink at a deliciously cold temperature.  The same is true for margaritas, pina coladas, and other summery, beachy drinks.  The crushed ice is the perfect garnish and temperature to keep those slushy drinks cool, calm, and collected.  Here’s a great tip: Purchase bags of Sonic ice from time to time when entertaining to give your frozen drinks a little something special.

sonic ice

Sonic ice

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This drink was mixed in a blender to create slushy ice.

Corralejo Jalapeno Popper Margarita

A Margarita with Sonic Ice = Love

Want to add a little garnish and keep your drink stylishly cool?  Add mint leaves, rosemary, or even berries to your ice cube tray as you fill it up.  This look works well if you are serving a clear spirit, lemonade or sparkling water.

mint ice cubes

Want your ice cubes to be clear?  Add boiling water to your mold.  The boiling temperature rids the water of gases that can cause that cloudy look.  Either way the ice is still cold has has the same taste– just a different look.

Regular freezer ice does have its place.  Freezer ice is great for adding to a shaker to cool down a concoction and works just as well as any other ice.

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Whether you are serving lemonade or a Manhattan, the ice you choose can make a difference in the appearance and taste of your drink.  The next time you entertain, don’t forget to think about the ice. What kind of mood you want to portray with your signature cocktail? If you try out one of our tips, we would love to hear about it.

Thank you bunches to everyone who is helping us with our challenge to double our number of followers.  We saw many new subscribers come across our feed this week and we are happy to have you join us.  Don’t forget to continue to share our blog with family and friends.