When I became interested in cocktails, especially rarer and more creative varieties of mixed drinks, I focused almost entirely on flavor, strength and composition. I judged cosmopolitans on their icy smoothness, sidecars on their subtle orange notes, and corpse revivers on that little whiff of absinthe.
Recently, however, I have been more concerned with the decorative component of my cocktails. A fancy drink requires an equally fancy garnish, and sometimes the latter outshines the former. At a hotel bar in Madrid, for example, my underwhelming martini was paired with a cute branch of delicious red currant. The juicy berries almost made up for the fact that I had spent more than 10 euros on a beverage that tasted eerily similar to NyQuil.
During a sunset drinking fest at Anvil, I marveled at the rich flavors of my delicious Black Betty (Rye, Bonal, Italian & mole bitters). Then I took a bite of the black cherry skewer, and the drink took on a whole other dimension, as the fruit brought out the bitter cocoa taste of the mole bitters. Suddenly, Black Betty was a bit sweet as well as strong: a perfect combination.
I even enjoy the simple lemon or lime wedge affixed to my glass rim, though both seem pedestrian compared to other, more creative garnish possibilities. Small, fresh and edible, I think, is the key to a good garnish. I will pass on those little umbrellas, plastic swords, and massive chunks of pineapple that inevitably topple over into your drink, splashing half of it on the table.
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Recommendations for cocktails in Houston adorned with particular intriguing or adorable garnishes greatly appreciated. Any salt sculptures, perhaps, floating in giant margaritas?