03 October 2010
When you have to decorate a drink, many recipes will tell you to "garnish" with an ingredient - typically a slice of lime or orange.
When choosing a decoration for your drink, it is important to think of four main factors:
1) The decoration should compliment the taste of the drink or have a neutral taste.
2) The decoration should never overpower the taste of the drink itself.
3) The decoration should contrast the colours of the drink and look good.
4) The decoration should be appropriate for the class of drink and the people you are serving it to - no umbrellas and straws in your dad's brandy!!
It is also important to make the correct size decoration - very thin slices of fruit will fall apart or hang and look messy while thick slices of fruit will look silly or worst of all overpower the taste of the drink.
Here are some classic decorations:
Maraschino Cherries - You should always have plenty of these ready when you are making cocktails. They are available in different colours and flavours and are extremely popular to garnish with.
Straws - So cheap and simple, and they come in thousands of colours. They are essential for many types of drinks, especially cocktails.
Frosting - Many drinks including Margarita's and Bloody Mary call for lining the edge of the glass with sugar or salt. To do this properly, take the EMPTY glass and rub the rim with a piece of lime, then press upside down in a small bowl of the wanted frosting. Do not try to pour it onto the edge, and do not try to add it after you have poured the drink.
Cocktail Sticks - The name says it all. Use these to spear several pieces of fruit for a cocktail. You can get wooden or plastic ones, and plastic sticks will often be washable and reusable and have some sort of design at the top.
Citrus Twist - One of the most used garnishes, and often added to water and soft drinks at restaurants as well. Cut a thin slice of lime crosswise, twist it and put it in the drink or on the rim of the glass. If you cut a thicker slice and do not twist, it is referred to as a wedge.
Citrus Peel - Very beautiful and versatile decoration. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin of a lime in a circular motion. Make sure to cut only the outer skin as the pith below is very bitter. Use the strips of peel to make long spirals, small half moons or carefully tie a knot on the peel and drop it in the drink.
Mini Umbrellas/Parasols - Mostly used for exotic cocktails and girly drinks, these small silly decorations can compliment a good drink very well. You can also use them to spear fruit.