How to make your own unforgettable cocktail garnishes
The glory days of the gaudy cocktail umbrella, sad slice of lemon, and uninspiring olive are over. All hail the new era of wonderful, inventive, imaginative garnishes, which add fitting finishing flourishes to marvellous mixology concoctions everywhere. You wouldn’t pair a Dior dress with a tired old pair of sneakers, so why do our drinks deserve anything less than the best?
So, what’s the point of a garnish anyway? Isn’t it just something slightly irrelevant stuck in the top of my drink to make it look more jazzy, which will probably just get picked out and discarded within seconds? Oh no, no, no.
A really great garnish should be clever; it should elevate a drink; it should enhance the carefully mixed flavours; it should surprise and entice; and most of all, it should look and taste FANTASTIC. In short, it should be an integral part of the drink, not a limp afterthought.
We think that garnishing drinks shouldn’t be reserved for bars and restaurants, so we have put together some garnishes that anyone could easily make at home.
It couldn’t be easier to add a little flair to your Friday night G&T, or impress your next dinner guests:
Candied Rosemary with Flamed Orange
Heat ½ cup of water and ½ cup of sugar in a saucepan, without boiling. Heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in 20 rosemary sprigs, 1 or 2 at a time. Let them dry on a wire rack for approx. 1 hour until tacky. Pour ½ cup of sugar onto a clean plate. Dip, roll or sprinkle sprigs with sugar, until coated. Allow to dry completely on clean wire rack.
Peel a large section of skin from a fresh orange using a potato peeler, at least an inch in diameter. Holding your flame a couple of inches above the drink, twist the peel while scorching the skin to release drops of fragrant citrus oil. Nestle your candied rosemary sprig in the curve of orange peel and perch atop your drink.
When to use it?
This sweet but citrusy garnish perfectly complements the earl grey and vanilla notes in our small batch Fernie Fog liqueur. The fresh orange and sweetened herb works in perfect harmony with the bergamot flavour in the earl grey. It would also pair beautifully with any light gin-based cocktail.
Apple Pie Umbrella
This garnish couldn’t be easier but packs a big visual punch as well as dressing up your drink with a classic flavour combination. Thinly slice an apple horizontally, so that you are left with crisp rounds with the pip hole in the middle. Push a cinnamon stick through the hole, to get a ‘umbrella’, with the apple slice about ¾ of the way up the cinnamon stick. Simply put the long end of the cinnamon stick into your drink like a straw, with the apple balancing tantalisingly on the rim. A new and tasty twist on the poor old 90’s cocktail umbrella.
When to use it?
This garnish will add both warmth and freshness to more autumnal beverages, such as our 5th & Park Damson gin. Try a simple mix of damson gin and ginger ale over ice, topped with your reinvented umbrella.
The cinnamon will infuse into the drink, while the apple will refresh your palate and provide a satisfying contrast in texture.
Dark Minty Indulgence
This could read like a dessert recipe, but cocktails come in all sorts of flavour profiles and deserve garnishes to match, so bear with me. Besides, it’s important to break the mould of tired and cliched fruit slices!
So simple, yet so decadent; simply break off a square of the best quality dark chocolate you can lay your hands on, balance on the lip of your glass, rub a mint leaf around the rim, and add a sprig of fresh mint to give height and infuse in the drink.
When to use it?
Rich but aromatic, this would be the perfect accompaniment to a White or Black Russian, or any creamy or coffee-based cocktail, preferably made with our No 9 Mine Vodka, of course! This would give a dinner party an expected and memorable twist if served as the ultimate grown up dessert.
So, go ahead; trail blaze those garnishes, and most of all, HAVE FUN! Think of yourself as an alchemist and break down the flavours in your drink, think about what will make them sizzle and sing, and give it a go! The quirkier the better, and only one rule, NO UMBRELLAS!