Ever heard the expression, “you eat with your eyes first”? Well, we’re true believers in that sentiment. If you’ve ever wondered why garnishes are so important to the culinary scene, you might not understand their importance to the cocktail scene either. But we believe that becoming your own bartender can be a little less complicated if your toolset is well-equipped with the appropriate enhancements. An easy way to boost your cocktail game is to elevate your garnishes.
The purpose of a garnish is to add simple additions to a cocktail that elevates taste and eye-appeal, without over-complicating the drink. There are five easy principles to live by when it comes to garnishing your favorite cocktails.
Add some herb appeal.
Herbs are your friend. Fresh rosemary, mint, basil sprigs and more, can take a drink from a 2 to a 10 in appearance and taste. When you’re craving a Gin Fizz or Gimlet, start by muddling berries with a sprig of rosemary at the bottom of your glass before pouring in the gin. The flavor is intensified and creates a summer reminiscence that will make you feel like a seasoned pro.
You can even get creative with your herbs, by going for bolder flavor combos. Try a little muddled cilantro in your Margarita next time Taco Tuesday rolls around, you may just be a quick convert.
No one can resist a sweet treat.
Fruits are our first thought when it comes to adding sweetness. Fresh slices of orange, dried apricot wedges, candied grapefruit peels; the list can go on and on. There are so many different types of fruits you can play with, tap into what flavors complement your preferences as well as your cocktail of choice.
Looking for something a little sweeter? Look no further than your candy cabinet. Gummy bears make a whimsical counterpart to a vodka martini or cosmopolitan. And, Sour Patch Kids are a crazy, yet somehow logical addition to your Whiskey Sour.
Lean into your bitter side.
Bitters may sound intimidating, but they can really take your cocktail up a notch or two – when used appropriately of course. Bitters and egg whites go together like peanut butter and jelly. Egg white cocktails like the “Sours” (think Whiskey Sour, Amaretto Sour, Gin Sour) are lovely just the way they are, but even more delicious with a dash or two of bitters.
After the egg white foam has settled into your cocktail, add a few drops of bitters of your choice (orange, lavender, grapefruit, etc.) on top. Then, you can drag a toothpick across the foam to create a completely customized design. A simple and fun way to impress all your friends the next time Happy Hour’s at your place.
Do the peel.
Using peels of your favorite citrus fruits is a simple technique to getting the most out of your garnish; think lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, the zestier the better! And, if you’re nervous around a knife, you don’t have to worry. You can use a potato or vegetable peeler to get curly shapes and long peels from your fruits, even creating unique ribbons to adorn your cocktail. Not only does this make your cocktail look like a knockout, but it adds an irresistible aroma to the nose, as well.
And, if you’re fresh out of citrus, you can use the peel method for other sources as well. After all, an Espresso Martini is nothing without shavings of chocolate atop the foam!
Last but not least – accentuate your rim.
You can’t go through all the trouble of picking out the perfect garnish without dressing up your glass too. Adding salt or sugar to the rim of your glass is super simple to do. Start by rubbing water (you could also use lemon or lime juice) around the rim of the glass, and then rotate it onto a small plate of sugar or salt. You can get creative with the ingredients by adding cinnamon to your sugar or chile powder to your salt; the possibilities are truly endless.
Garnishes add a huge aesthetic element to your cocktail game through their ability to intensify the flavor and a fresh aroma that seems too good to be true. One taste from a perfectly garnished cocktail, and you’ll be hooked.