Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Garnishes, Preparing and Serving

Garnishes add flavor and flair to cocktails and most upscale drinkers expect to see them. What is a Martini without an Olive, a Mint Julep without fresh Mint leaves or a Brandy Alexander without Nutmeg? Below is a list of the most common and popular garnishes, a description of what they are and how they are used.

Types of Garnishes

Bitters- Angostura and Orange.

Cherries- Maraschino, both red and green

Cinnamon Sticks- Extra Long

Cucumber- Fresh slices, used most often with Pimms

Lemons- Wedges, slices or wheels. Use the rind for twists. Popular in drinks with Club Soda

Limes- Wedges, slices or wheels. Use the rind for twists. Used with tonic water.

Mint Leaves- Fresh. Used in Mint Juleps

Nutmeg- Used in hot or creamy drinks. A must for Alexanders.

Olives- Small green pitted are most popular but stuffed, fancy ones are also used.

Onions- Pearl Onions. Used in Gibsons.

Oranges- Fresh slices.

Pineapple- Spears, slices or chunks. Used in exotic and tropical drinks.

Salt- Table salt in drinks (Bloody Mary or Salty Dog). Coarse salt for frosting (Margarita).

Sugar- Superfine granulated. Use to frost glasses or to make simple sugar syrup.

Cutting and Preparing Garnishes

Fruit Garnishes- Use a good paring knife and a cutting board. Cut into wheels, slices, wedges or twist the rinds.

Fruit Wedges- Cut off the ends of the fruit. Cut it lengthwise and then slice in half again. Cut each wedge crosswise to make a shorter wedge. One fruit makes 8 wedges.

Fruit Slices- Cut off the ends of the fruit. Slice the fruit lengthwise. Cut each peice lengthwise again. Repeat until the fruit yeilds 16 slices.

Fruit Wheels- Cut off the ends of the fruit. Make a cut approx. 1/4 inch deep along the length of the fruit. Slice the fruit perpendicular to this cut. This creates a "wheel" which can be attached to the rim of a glass at the 1/4 inch cut.

Fruit Peel or Rind Twists- Cut off the ends of the fruit and then stand the fruit on one end. Cut from top to bottom (a long slice), staying close to the meat of the fruit but not cutting into the fruit. Cut again approx. 1/2 inch from the original slice, making a strip of rind. Peel off this strip and twist by running it along a toothpick or fork rind. Run it along the tine until the rind twirls into a twist.

Cherry and Orange garnishes should be speared with a toothpick or swizzler and placed at the top of the drink. Olives and onions should be dropped in and allowed to float to the bottom.

How to Serve Garnishes

As a rule, Lemons are mostly used when the mixer is Club Soda. Limes are used when the mixer is Tonic Water. Limes are also popular with drinks mixed with Cranberry Juice.

A "twist" usually refers to a Lemon peel only but sometimes other "twists" are used. To use a twist properly, you should twist the peel over the drink to release the essence of the fruit, rub it around the rim of the glass and then drop it into the drink.

Drink up and enjoy!

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