The Finishing Touch:
6 Cocktail Garnishes
There’s something very posh about drinking a fresh, finely crafted cocktail. Signature cocktails at your favorite restaurant or bar have evolved from the simple on-the-rocks or straight-up variety to elaborate offerings with artisanal ingredients – and one-of-a-kind cocktail garnishes to match. If you want to recreate the cool cocktail lounge vibe at home, you just need a few extra things. Whether you are entertaining friends or want a fancy nightcap, think about going beyond the paper umbrella. Take a look at these six tasty cocktail garnishes as inspiration for the finishing touches to your cocktail creations.
Incorporate Edible Flowers
Edible flowers, such as rose petals, pansies and lavender make cocktails pop and are popular garnishes among mixologists. For example, if you are serving drinks in a punchbowl, sprinkle rose petals on top. Make sure to trim off the white tip of the petal – it has a bitter taste. You can intersperse pansies with ice cubes in a vodka- or gin-based cocktail for a beautiful effect. A sprig of lavender can transform a tall flute of champagne.
Create Herb Appeal
Mint leaves are an obvious mojito favorite and one of the best cocktail garnishes. Even one can add flourish to your cocktail. Here’s an insider trick: Give the herbs a firm, quick slap to release their fragrant aromas before adding them to a glass. Consider tossing a fresh rosemary stem in a highball glass. Longer stems and blueberries look stunning in a drink dispenser and infuse the cocktail with their subtle flavor. Try pairing basil leaves or lemon verbena with a gimlet, or spear berries with hardy herbs like rosemary and thyme for an eye-catching and (totally edible!) garnish.
Stick to Citrus
Lemons and limes are delicious and time-honored garnishes. (What’s a gin and tonic without the lime, after all?) However, you can dress these up by creating curlicues or scoring them with a citrus stripper and a knife. Another fresh approach is combining orange slices and mint leaves in a pitcher with a clear cocktail. For more opaque drinks, such as screwdrivers, score part of the peel and pith of the citrus slice to make a sort of tail and make a cut halfway into the slice. Perch slices on the rim of your pitcher and toss others inside.
Feel Cool as a Cucumber
Few fruits are as refreshing as cucumbers. Simply slice and add to the cocktail – or use a vegetable peeler or mandolin to make long, vertical r strips and thread them on a toothpick into waves. Add to a copper mule mug for an elegant look that’s worth the little extra effort.
Put on Ice
Freeze orange, cranberry, pomegranate and any other yummy juice into cubes, then make a rainbow of colors in your outdoor glasses for poolside drinks. These vibrant cubes change the taste of the drink as they melt, so make sure you choose complementary flavors. You can also put mint leaves, blueberries or raspberries in regular ice cubes for a more delicate flavor addition.
Garnish with …Glassware
More of a first touch than a finishing one, glassware is often designed specifically for certain drinks. Few glasses can beat the classic style of a martini glass, but consider a larger wine glass for some of your fruitier creations. It allows you space for more elaborate garnishes, such as a layer of strawberries and mint leaves. The glass sets the tone of the cocktail, as well. A thick, hand-blown glass goblet adds to the timeless feel of traditional cocktails, like a whiskey sour, while a stemless wine glass creates a more relaxed, summery mood. (You can get that gown-and-tuxedo vibe with your more formal stemware.)
Let Your Imagination Run Wild
The point of a cocktail garnish is to accentuate the drink through beautiful presentation and contribute to the atmosphere of your event. With a bowl of fruit, veggies and herbs, a paring knife, zester and a box of toothpicks, feel free to experiment. Be creative and have fun – and your guests will always have an Instagram-worthy cocktail in hand.