Whether you’re serving an elegant Martini or a summery G&T, garnishes and flavourings boost your drink both as a visual accompaniment and from a flavour-profile point of view.
Sometimes you can really get creative—it’s the case of the gin and tonic, which typically works as a blank canvas for your experiments. Sometimes you have to play by the rules—a Martini wants olives, an Old Fashioned requires a slice of orange zest, et cetera.
Let’s see which garnishes and flavourings a well stocked home bar typically has.
Bitters – They’re highly concentrated alcoholic elixirs made with liquors and herbal ingredients, oftentimes developed initially for medical purposes. Angostura is one of the most popular. They’re measured in drops (or dashes).
Grenadine – A sweet syrup made from pomegranates, with low-to-no alcohol content. Sweetens and colours mixed drinks thanks to its crimson tonality.
Tabasco sauce – Produced in Louisiana, United States, this sauce can be used as marinade, seasoning, but also in cocktails to spice them up.
Worcestershire sauce – It’s a fermented liquid condiment from Worcester, England, frequently used to enhanced food and drink recipes.
Fruits, citruses, jars
Citruses (lemon, lime, orange) – typical garnishes for many drinks. When peeling the zest, avoid the bitter white pith and twist to release essential oils from the skin.
Herbs – at least mint, time, rosemary, for a wide variety of cocktails.
Cocktail olives – Green, firm, small olives, not just for your Martini’s.
Maraschino cherries – Sweetened cherries, preserved in a brine solution then soaked in a suspension of food colouring, sugar syrup and other components. They provide a nice little boost to so many cocktails, predominantly from an aesthetic point of view.
Simple syrup – It’s a basic sugar-and-water syrup used to make cocktails sweeter. It’s made by stirring sugar into hot or boiling water until the sugar is dissolved, and then letting the solution cool. Sugar to water ratio can range anywhere from 1:1 to 2:1 by weight.
And of course, the staples of every kitchen: Salt, pepper and sugar.
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