Choosing the right garnish for your cocktail can make the change from an ordinary drink, to a WOW drink! They are used to complete the presentation of the cocktail and would normally be hooked onto the side of the glass or placed within it. This blog discusses a number of basic staple garnishes that can add the finishing touches to your cocktails.
A garnish can be anything from a delicious piece of fruit to a sweet taste of confectionary, it’s completely up to you! For garnish inspiration use the ingredients of the drink. For example, if your drink contains banana liqueur, then a safe option would be to garnish the cocktail with slices of banana but the more adventurous may add cocoa chips or a vanilla pod (depending on what else is in the cocktail).
The best garnishes will complement the drink, enhance the aroma and flavour and add some theatre to your cocktails!
Perfect in a Bloody Mary. Celery sticks should be free from bruises and cut slightly longer than the length of the glass. Try to choose sticks that are firm as they typically are used to stir the thick juices of the drink.
Cinnamon sticks are full of flavour and really complement a hot drink such as a Hot Toddy. Usually, you drop the stick straight into the liquid so it can slowly release its strong taste and aroma of cinnamon. Try adding a cinnamon stick to a warm mulled wine.
A flamed zest twist garnish instantly attracts the eye and really will complete a cocktail! The fruit that works best when flamed is the peel of an orange. Use a potato peeler to peel around the full circle of an orange and light until flamed. Use a long handled lighter to make the process easier. By burning the aromatic oils the zest will be exposed adding a sweet orange taste and flavour. You will also get lots of comments on how good it looks!
A Kiwi can be used as a garnish in two ways. You can simply wedge it onto the side of the drink or if you want to be really fancy, try piercing a cocktail stick straight through the centre and balance across the glass. Try kiwi as a garnish with a Caprioska or fruity punches in summer.
Lemon as a garnish can have 2 different purposes. One is to add flavour to the drink, do this by squeezing in the juice from wedges and then dropping the remainder of the wedge into the drink allowing further juice to release as well as looking nice. The other is to cut the lemon into slices and add the slice onto the rim of the drink. This is also referred to as a ‘Lemon Wheel’. You can never go wrong with a lemon garnish!
Lime as a garnish has the same role as a lemon. It can be used to add juice and flavour, but also to decorate on the edge of the glass. It can sometimes be down to personal preference and taste whether somebody prefers lemon or lime in their drink, but lime is becoming increasingly popular and used in many gin & tonics and vodka mixers as well as more complex cocktails. Definitely a staple garnish for your cupboard! To make life easier why not introduce yourself to Ice and Slice. Click here to find out more.
Maraschino cherries are known for being bright red in colour with a long red stem. The name comes from the Maraschino Liqueur as they were once originally marinated in the drink to hold the taste and flavour. This is not as common now as they are usually sweetened and died bright red. The long stem has been said to make the garnish more appealing and attractive and is best used in long drinks. Most commonly known to top off a Pina Colada or Manhattan but is also great in other sweet fruity mixes.
Most famously served in a classic Mojito, mint leaves are to be muddled into the cocktail around the ice and alcohol. Use a muddler as a handy tool to do this, find out more about muddling in Part 2 of the Beginners Guide to Becoming a Mixologist. A fresh green leaf or mint sprig adds colour to the cocktail as well as a fresh fragrance, so is great in lighter drinks such as an Elderflower spritzer.
Served in a shaken or stirred Martini, olives can be dropped into the drink or served on a cocktail stick, check your guest’s preference. They should be refrigerated and left in the oil or brine before being added as a garnish to the cocktail. Prior to garnishing, the olives should be free from any oil as this may spoil the taste and look of the cocktail, unless you’re making a Dirty Martini then this is not necessary!
You might have noticed when you order a Margarita that it is served with salt around the rim. This isn’t just for effect, it also adds to the flavour when you sip the drink. To do this you need to add a couple of tablespoons of sea salt to a small plate. Then, moist the rim of the glass with lemon and dip into the salt and turn. For sugar it’s best to use a sweeter fruit to moist such as an orange or why not try adding a few drops of the cocktails liqueur onto a paper towel and use this to dampen the rim of the glass before turning in the sugar.
This is an introduction to basic garnishes for getting you started on your way to becoming an expert in Mixology. It’s the little things that complement a drink so take the garnishing side seriously! As with many things less is more and remember, a garnish can be just as important as the main ingredients as in many cases they add flavour and aroma to the cocktail.
Choose wisely but be adventurous, you do not have to stick to the above, for example many people now add cucumber to their cocktails and seasonal fruits such as strawberries, lychees and even flowers (yes, flowers!). If you do step out the box and add a garnish completely away from the ingredients in the drink, find out your guests opinions and see if they liked it, that way you will know if it has worked!
A round up of the Beginners Guide to Becoming a Mixologist so far…Part 1, 2 & 3!
In this 4 part blog series we have so far discussed:
- The vital tools needed in your cocktail making kit.
- The essential glassware to use when making cocktails.
- How a garnish will complete and complement a cocktail.
In the final part of the blog series we will look at the most important ingredients that you will use in many popular cocktails. These ingredients are useful to know as they come up in a variety of recipes, so it is worth having them in your cupboard.
Don’t forget The Ice Co’s Cocktail Bar App is a perfect place to store all your favourite cocktail recipes and when you become really good, you can make suggestions of recipes to feature on the app itself! To find out more download the app here for FREE: http://theicecococktailbar.co.uk/
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