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Cocktail garnishes – the all-important first impression! Your eyes always do the first drinking-in.

It’s cocktail foreplay! Of exciting, irresistible anticipation – you can’t wait to bring to your lips.

If you don’t get the garnishes right, you’re not creating the FULL cocktail drinking experience. So, you always need to be using the right tools. To ensure you create the perfect – most exquisite garnishes. Every last detail counts or the effect you want is lost. No stunning first impression!

Check out the pro garnishing tools you need for your bar now

Cocktail garnishes – two roles.

A cocktail garnish is often seen as a simple decoration. But its role is actually two-fold. All garnishes are intended to be eye-catching, and have a supreme, final touch. At the same time, many garnishes are also added to enhance the flavour and/or aroma of the drink itself.

For example, fruit wedges, slices, or twists actually lend their citrus juice to subtly influence the drink. That’s why many rum-based cocktails, particularly fruit-flavoured drinks, are often decorated with “tropical-themed” garnishes or slices of fruit.

Citrus fruits, olives, or cherry

Tequila-based drinks tend to favour limes and other citrus fruits while gin and vodka-based drinks rely more on restrained garnish flavours such as olives, onions or a single maraschino cherry.

Some garnishes are essential to completing a cocktail, such as the olive in a Martini, or lemon slice in a Manhattan brandy. The main cocktail garnishes often used tend to be Maraschino cherries, stuffed olives, lime or lemons wedges, orange slices and whipped cream.

Some cocktails would taste very different indeed without a specific garnish, such as the classic Cyprus Brandy Sour without the lemon slice or a Negroni without an orange peel. And not all garnishes can be prepared in the same way.

Garnishing mistakes you can avoid

Mistakes to avoid can include an overly thick and ragged peel or too much pith in a grated citrus. A badly placed fine garnish can fall or be submerged into the liquid.

That’s why any serious mixologist never leaves out the garnish or does not prepare properly – using the right tool for each type of garnish to be prepped.

So how do you get to cut a citrus fruit into wondrous wheels and delicate wedges or skewer berries, cherries, and olives to eye-popping cocktail perfection?

There are many types of garnishes. But with a few essential, tailor-made tools you’ll soon raise your cocktail game to a whole new level.

Let’s check out what you need to get started…

Essential cocktail garnishing tools

  1. Paring Knife Has to be top of any list of garnishing tools. A high-quality, sharp paring knife will create perfect peels and decorative garnishes.
  2. Canelle Knife / Lemon Decorator The second essential knife for decorating fruits and vegetables. A thin strip of skin can be cut away to form a fascinating shape or pattern.
  3. Citrus Zester Essential tool for decorating fruit and vegetables by also cutting away a thin strip of skin to leave an intriguing shape or pattern.
  4. Fine Peel Zester A tool which takes peeling to the next level. Here. The zester will decorate fruits and vegetables by cutting the peel into fine hair-like tendrils and similar forms.
  5. Vegetable Peeler Recognisable as a food preparation staple, this peeler is designed for the fast cutting of thin strips of vegetables, apples, or citrus fruits.
  6. Pinzetta Your fine and delicately made garnishes will need to be picked up and precisely placed. A pizzetta is a precision tool that you can also use for or ice cubes.
  7. Fruit Carving Spoon The secret to making the perfect melon ball and raspberry vodka cocktails. This handy spoon can decorate any fruit and vegetable by sculpting small, round shapes of deliciousness!
  8. Deco Grater A handy way to prepare specific ingredients such as long fruits, vegetables, and chocolate into impressive decorative effects.
  9. Nutmeg Grater Another important bar tool used to grate fresh nutmeg seeds before adding to a finished cocktail, such as a Brandy Alexander.

Each tool behaves differently

Learning to handle your garnishing tools properly is, of course, crucial. You need time to get comfortable with how each is designed to work. Each will behave differently.

The all-important rule is to always have sharp, sturdy, well-fitting garnishing tools. If you want to master the art of superior pro-cocktail decoration. Whether it’s a very simple lemon twist or a flaming zest with a 3D butterfly.

Author Costas Nicolaides

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