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11.21.10 by  

One-Trick-Pony Garnishes

If you’ve got a single shot to make a lasting impression, serve it up with a WTF. These 5 drink accessories are memorable, fashionable and easy to pull off with practice. Break them out when you want your cocktail to scream “I’m not screwing around.”

The next-to-last thing you want your cocktail garnish to do is take away from the drink experience. The very last thing you want to do is be unmemorable.  How make lasting first impression? Nail their senses with visually stimulating, aromatic garnishes. These 5 stylish glass toppers dress your drinks for success while complementing their flavor.

1. Tattoo Wedge
Legendary bartender Audrey Saunders gets credit for giving Miami Ink style to glass edges with her tattooed lime garnishes. Pick up a keyhole citrus zester instead of an ink gun for a simple chic way to add island-appeal to your evening sans the lifetime commitment.

Time to kill before your next party? Grab a zester and a bag of limes. Photo:

2. Bright Blaze
Marshall over at Scofflaw’s Den won a cocktail conference garnishing session with his Flaming Pompeii Garnish. Some may think fire as a garnish might be hazardous, but we say go for it, as long as there’s no hairspray near the open flame.

Don't toss your lime peels: Flip them inside out, fill with overproof rum and torch. Photo:

3. Caprese Salad:
This savory garnish is adapted from Saveur Magazine and Michael Chiarello’s Napa by Charles at The Taste of Oregon: A trio of beautifully skewered tomato, mozzarella and basil. Paired over a icy cold tomato water vodka martini.

A salad's almost always more enjoyable when served over a martini. Photo:

A salad's almost always more enjoyable when served over a martini. Photo:

Tomato Martini

It’s difficult to know exactly how much tomato water any given batch will yield, so err on the side of excess. Leftover nectar from my last batch held a nice, fresh flavor in the refrigerator for two days. Courtesy of

  • 3 to 5 pounds (1.33-2.25 kg.) ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into chunky pieces
  • Ice cold vodka from the freezer, optional
  • Fresh basil
  • Several grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Several bocconcini, not more than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter
  1. Place martini glasses in the freezer to chill.
  2. Place the tomato pieces in a bowl and roughly mash with a potato masher. (Saveur uses a stand mixer with a paddle to bruise and break down the tomatoes.)
  3. Set a colander into a large bowl and line it with several layers of cheesecloth or a clean, cotton kitchen towel and fill with the tomato pieces and any accumulated water.
  4. Cover the tomatoes loosely with the edges of the cheese cloth or towel and weight down with a plate and several full cans from your cupboard.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for several hours or for however long your tomatoes are dripping. (You can save leftover pulp for other uses.)
  6. Stop if you begin seeing red liquid dripping.
  7. Measure nto the chilled martini glasses: 2 parts tomato water to 1 part chilled vodka (if using – otherwise, fill your glass to the desired capacity with tomato water).
  8. Rub the rim of each glass with some fresh basil and garnish with the small tomatoes, bocconcini and more basil.

4. Starfruit Garnish
The Liquid Chef’s Rising Star combines ice wine, lychee puree, sparkling wine and is topped with starfruit for a tropical twist on a champagne cocktail.

Add height and a touch of glamour to sparkling drinks with a fresh starfruit garnish. Photo:

Rising Star

Junior Merino’s tropical champagne cocktail.

  • 3/4 ounce Inniskillin Vidal Ice Wine
  • 1 ounce Boiron Lychee Puree
  • 4 ounces Moet & Chandon Brut
  1. Pour the first two ingredients in a champagne glass stir a couple of times then add the champagne slowly stir gently again a couple of times and garnish with a slice of starfruit.

5. Floral Architecture
Tiki bars nationwide are garnishing glasses with ornate floral build-outs. A Mountain of Crushed Ice highlights some floral garnishes in their Planter’s Punch roundup, our favorite being Stephen Remsberg’s creation garnished with a simple orchid/mint combo plus a swizzle stick to stir with.

Layer flowers and herbs as cocktail garnish to stimulate your visual and aromatic senses. Photo: