Before you smell a food, or taste a drink, you devour it with your eyes. That’s why garnishes are a great way to spruce up any cocktail. Sure, they add a little flavor, but their big impact comes from the visual appeal. With the right technique, making your own garnish is easy and most definitely Instagram-worthy.
The exact origins of the garnish are unknown, but rumor has it that classic juleps and cobblers are responsible for the tasty accessory. Nevertheless, records of garnishes date back into the 1800s, so this is no new practice! While there are infinite ways to decorate your drink, these are the most common types of garnishes you’ll find.
The wheel and the wedge:
A wedge is 1/8 a lemon, lime or orange. It’s essentially just a chunk, cut out and “wedged” on the side. The wheel, on the other hand, is a perfect circle of a citrus fruit with a slit on one end that allows you to set it on the drink’s rim. To make a wheel, cut off the ends of the fruit and then cut slices from one end to the other.
To make a twist, all you need is a sharp knife. Cut both ends off the fruit and separate it from its skin. Roll the skin up, and cut it, so you’re left with a long piece of citrus skin. The twist not only looks complex, and beautiful, but the oil from the citrus fruit permeates your sense of smell to enhance the experience.
This effortless garnish is typically placed in drinks like the Old Fashioned. Simply use a knife to cut an oval shape out of the fruit’s skin—but not too deep or you’ll get the bitter flavor of the pith. Before placing this garnish in the drink, rub it around the glass rim to impart some citrus flavor.
The skewer is the most versatile garnish of them all. From simple fruit to savory treats, each drink can look uniquely yours but skewering your favorite fruits and veggies on a stick.
Herbs can bring freshness, flavor and some color to a cocktail. A popular one is fresh mint. And here’s a tip: when using mint, slap it in your palm right before adding it to a drink to release its aroma.
So what are you waiting for? Whether you decide to go all out, or super simple, any garnish will add some pizazz to the most basic cocktail.