It is fascinating to me how differently a cocktail may be perceived based on the angle of the viewer. Through photography, we are reliant on the lens and the focal point dictated by the photographer’s eye.
However, at the bar and on the restaurant floor, the glass and cocktail are moving elements, going from empty to full, naked to garnished, on the bar-top to the guest’s lips. At each moment the glass is seen not only by the bartender and the person for whom it is intended but by the entire room.
For this reason, I like to think of the drink as a floral arrangement that will be set in the middle of the room. It should be gorgeous to the person facing it, of course, but also to the guests who see it passing by on a tray, or sitting across from the one who got the drink.
This is this ever-so-popular overhead shot, a position that few of us are ever actually in when we are looking at a drink, but a really fun way to showcase the drinks as if it were confined to the plane of a flat circle. The glass truly is the canvas. The density of the cocktail dictates what may be floated or painted on to the drink. When there is ice in the glass, it serves the role of continuous chilling, but it also acts as a support for garnish.
Keep in mind that like the angle at which the drink is seen, time has a way of warping perspective as well. When using ice, it is important to think about what happens as the drink is being sipped, and the ice is melting. How does the garnish look once the drink is halfway gone?
Each of these drinks "ages" in a different way. On the left, the Hummingbird Highball. The dill is held to the side of the glass by the lime clip. Therefore, as the drink is sipped, the dill slowly follows the ice downwards but remains on the side of the glass as an aromatic element. In the center, an egg white cocktail.
Egg whites create the perfect white canvas for painting with aroma, color, and flavor. In this case, aromatic bitters with fresh chamomile flowers and greens. The micro foam of the egg white retains its texture and hold as the drink is enjoyed, slowly creeping towards the bottom of the glass, but never losing its structure.
Finally on the right, the Hammersmith Palace spirit free (nonalcoholic cocktail). A fountain of tarragon bursts from the center of a lime wheel. This lime will acts as a flotation device so that as the drink goes down, the lime keeps the tarragon upright.
While a bit unrealistic, my aim is for a drink to be as beautiful and camera ready when it returns to the glass washer, as when it was just made and placed in front of the guest.