Ah the humble garnish. Contributing to the taste, aroma, aesthetic or even the story of a cocktail, and in rare cases, all of the aforementioned. Perhaps not so humble after all?
When garnishing your cocktails, consider the role it’s playing in your finished drink, and how/when it should be incorporated. Be a bartender. Be an artist. But most importantly, do what feels right.
Let’s consider some garnish staples, and how best to approach them.
Citrus zests. A delicate, yet surprisingly potent ingredient. Think about the when someone eats an orange on a train!
When you ‘express’ the oils of a citrus zest, I would recommend doing this into your empty glass before adding the cocktail. This ensures that the oils incorporate into the drink, as opposed to sitting on top. Moreover, don’t be afraid to ‘express and discard’, if you only want a hint of lemon in your Martini. If the zest sits in the drink, it’ll steep and add more flavour.
Salt rims. Poorly executed, they can ruin a drink. A little goes a very long way. That’s my hot take here. The Margarita is the poster boy for salt rims, and we bottle a lot of them here at Moore House, so I think it’s worth covering.
To salt rim a glass, lightly brush the outside (not inside) rim with a wedge of fresh lime (consider only rimming one half, so you can try it both ways). Lightly tap the lime- brushed side of the glass on to a bed of fine sea salt. Try not to use large flakes/boulders of salt, as they will be too salty. Never dip the the glass upside-down on to the salt, as the salt will stick to the inside-rim of the glass and fall into the drink, making a very salty cocktail.
Fresh fruit. A big juicy wedge of fresh orange in a Negroni is a very different experience to the zest alone. A tiny bit sweeter, juicier and fresher. Half submerged in the drink to impart flavour, and half above, to get all the aroma. With juicy fruit, like an orange, consider whether you want the flavour, the aroma or both. For our Lychee Martini, we recommend either lemon zest for a drier, cleaner serve or a fresh peeled lychee for an extra hit of fruity acidity and aroma.
Dehydrated fruit. Beautifully crisp with concentrated aroma, dehydrated fruits are great to have on-hand, given their long shelf life and versatility.
Here at Moore House we make our own, and ship them with our cocktails, so I feel it’s worth discussing (particularly because I have some strong opinions on the matter).
Dehydrated garnishes should ideally never be submerged directly into liquid. This will turn your beautiful garnish into a soggy biscuit. Instead, get creative with positioning your dehydrated garnishes, either clipped to the glass or atop an ‘island’ of ice above the liquid. Dehydrated garnishes can be successfully placed on a foamed cocktail (such as with egg white) or on a bed of crushed ice.
Whatever your garnishing, take everything I say with a pinch of salt and a twist of lemon. If it tastes great, smells great, and looks great to you, then it’s a win. What we always encourage is experimentation. Our cocktails are deliberately designed to give you creative control on the preparation and the serve. Three steps toward the perfect cocktail.
In summation: Garnish thoughtfully. Consider taste, aroma and appearance. Have a good time.