There's a reason behind every wheel and wedge resting on the rim of your glass. When it comes to cocktail garnishes, there's much more than meets the eye. These guys imbue juice, oils, and aromatics that can either make or break a recipe. Follow these tips and tricks to ensure you’re complementing your cocktails correctly:
Twists & Peels
- If you're solely looking for aromatics, then a peel expressed over the top will do the trick. Squeeze the peel over the surface of the cocktail, rub the rim of the glass, and either drop the peel into the glass or discard.
- When cutting peels and twists, try to skin the fruit without digging too deep into the pith. The pith is the white part, just under the zest and it’s super bitter.
- For Manhattans and Old Fashioneds, we suggest using an orange peel with bourbon, and a lemon peel with rye whiskey. It does well to complement the spirits and conveniently separates the drinks visually.
- Fresh herbs add a layer of complexity to cocktails that's hard to beat, but like all garnishes, freshness is key. Make sure the herbs you're using are full, lively, and free of brown spots.
- Never pulverize herbs in the glass - they express bitter flavors. A gentle press with a muddler, or a quick slap to release the aromatics will suffice.
- If the cocktail calls for a cherry, stand clear of the brightly dyed cherries. They’re chemically processed and packed with artifical flavors that will not lend any valuable flavor to the cocktail.
- Try using real brandied cherries for the perfect balance of sweetness, flavor, and a natural pop of color.
Wedges & Wheels
- Wedges should only be used on drinks if they're intended to be squeezed in. Think of them as being a dual purpose garnish - they decorate the glass and also enable you to tailor your drink to your liking.
- If you’re only looking to make a cocktail more attractive, use a wheel so that the balance of the drink doesn’t get altered.