I believe that everything matters. The smallest details will catch someone's attention. Take garnish: the oft forgotten, crucial element of a well composed drink. Featured here are some of my favorites. Remember, garnish is not only the final touch, but it is the final ingredient to a perfectly balanced cocktail.
Filthy Foods Olive stuffed with "Kinpira" braised burdock root and carrot. Julienned burdock root is threaded through, and knotted at the top of the sliced olive. The final touch is a chili thread, delicately balanced atop. The glass plays a role with this cocktail, chosen for it's angular structure, it highlights the rounded details of the olive.
I use "clips" cut from citrus to hold herbs in place on the edge of the glass, just under your nose. In this case, a swath of lime hangs on to the side of a rocks glass by a slender rectangle, cut from the right side. On the left are cut out windows, creating a more aromatic and visually alive drink.
Smoke & Floss
Japanese cedar wood smoke is held suspended above the liquid, by a puff of maple cotton candy. When it comes time to drink the floss may be eaten right away, or dropped into the cocktail to dissolve into nothing -- a show which I rather enjoy.
Pickled Lotus Root
Lotus root is naturally visually striking. Here, it serves a myriad of purposes: wedging the ice, accenting the dimples on the hand-chipped ice ball, soaking up the flavors of the cocktail for a tasting bite when the liquid has been consumed.
Thinly sliced carrot slices are folded over like waves onto themselves, and then held in place by another slice wrapping around the circumference. Last, is a thyme wreath, secured about the ornament as a final fixture.
Foie Gras Shavings
Foie gras torchon, frozen, and shaved over top an eggwhite cocktail. This cocktail was inspired by peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Foie gras was offered as a supplemental garnish, along with shavings of roasted peanuts.
Pâte de Fruit
Etrog pâte de fruits, cut into perfect little cubes, and dusted with the flavors of the 5 core ingredients of the Corpse Reviver cocktail.
Curry Leaf Confetti
Dried curry leaf is extremely aromatic. Native to South Asia, these leaves are actually not related to the curry powder we know, but the aroma is distinctly familiar. The strong, piney aroma melds with a satsuma-orange tang. This cocktail is finished off with some freshly grated nutmeg to add some baking spice notes.
I wanted guests to have the chance to experience fresh sugarcane and finger lime. This is a multi-step garnish involving finesse and balance. Sugarcane is cut into batons and then compressed with cachaça. I then dipped the compressed sugarcane into a Mycryo and white chocolate blend. Using a coconut agricole liqueur, I made a pudding using Ultratex 8. This holds a cilantro leaf with finger lime cells, caper, and toasted coconut flakes.
A fresh approach to the cucumber garnish. Rather than the typical wheel or ribbon, this is a spiral/ribbon combination garnish. Not-so-fondly called the side salad garnish by the bar team, this garnish takes a deft hand and sharp mandoline to make.
Something to consider is the composition of the drink as a whole. With a cocktail such as the martini, or in this case, a brandy aperitif, consider the garnish as the last element needed to complete the drink, after the cocktail its self has been poured. In this case, we have the chilled sidecar, olives, and a knotted twist.
This is a carefully stenciled rim, positioned so as not to clash with the beautiful etching of the glass, just running along the edge of the glass. Rose liqueur was sprayed onto the glass to hold a dusting of white peppercorn, hibiscus salt, and sugar.
It's good to have a little bit of fun every now and then. This little smiley face was made using a stencil, placed over the white canvas of coconut milk. Star Anise was grated over the top for an aromatic compliment to this chamomile and saffron drink made to pair with a special pineapple dessert at Oriole, Chicago.