Often drink recipes call for simple syrup, flavoured fruit syrups -- such as cherry,
lemon or raspberry -- or non-fruit syrups such as chocolate, maple, or coconut. Whether
bought commercially or made at home, they are used with the same aim: create a sweeter
drink, either to offset sour ingredients, to hide the strength of the alcohol, or
to suit certain dessert drinks. Syrups are used when making an Amer Bierre (lemon),
Amaretto Jack (cherry), Chocolate Snow Bear (Chocolate), Maple Martini (maple), and
a Gauguin (passion fruit).
Herbs & Spices
While herbs such as sage, basil and mint have long been used as garnishes, herbs
and spice have been arguably underutilized by mixologists. That's changing. The trend
in hip bars is grinding up fresh herbs and spices right in the glass -- everything
from ginger to cinnamon to cocoa and even coffee beans. A Gin and Tonic has a little
more -- oh -- spice if, instead of lemon one bruises or squashes rosemary into it.
The Mojito craze has inspired people to experiment -- muddling blueberry with basil
and lime before adding rum, for instance. Don't be afraid to spice things up!
Chocolate might come in handy in the bar – grated in the drink, sprinkled on top,
or on the rim of a cocktail glass. Turn the glass up-side-down, and dip the outermost
rim first in simple syrup, then in grated chocolate.
The definition of heat, chili pepper, comes in over a hundred variations. Jalapeno
is one of them, but any will do – take the kind you prefer.
With the Asian cuisine gaining interest in the western world, the spices find their
ways into our minds. Lemongrass has a great, useful taste and the benefit of being
a nice swizzle stick too.
Paprika being an vegetable is not often used in drinks but why not colour up your
margaritas, or sprinkle dried paprika powder as a topping.
Around Christmas every year, raisin consumption in Sweden increases by thousands
of per cent, as its used as a garnish in the traditional, warm Glögg drink. There
are other uses for the raisin in the bar as well – but is sure not indispensable.
Very regular in Chinese cuisine, the star anise is also common for flavouring spirits.
In pastis drinks, star anise make perfect garnish
Whenever vanilla is involved in a drink, the pod or bean can make a nice garnish.
Go easy if muddling, though, as it might give too much flavour.
The balance between sweet and sour is very individual. That's why berries, which
can be sweet -- like blueberries and strawberries -- or bitter as anything -- like
cranberries -- make such great drink ingredients. Vodka Cranberry is a refreshing
drink, but try a Cranberry Kurrant. The recipe highlights one of the newer trends
-- muddling fruit in the bottom of the glass before adding the other ingredients.
Try it with Kiwi, blueberry, even watermelon. You get all the fruit aromas, sourness
and sweetness, while avoiding the little floating bits of fruit or rind that can
be so annoying.
A bramble fruit, which deservingly has gained popularity over the last few years.
No wonder: It’s very decorative, with the blank, dark surface and deep red-blue flesh.
Like the less good-looking cousin, the raspberry, the blackberry is perfect for frozen
drinks. And as a garnish, too, of course.
Blueberries give a wonderful colour, but they also taste very well. Try muddling
them, or use whole as garnish. Blueberry is not very common in drinks, which makes
it more fun to use.
In 99 cocktail recipes out of 100 where cherries are an ingredient, we're talking
Maraschino cherries. Sometimes, however, the fresh fruit occurs. When mixing the
fresh cherries, make sure to get rid of the seeds.
For thousands of years, people in Arctic areas have eaten cranberries (also known
as moss berries in Canada). The fresh berries look better than they taste, which
makes them perfect as a garnish.
These cherries have been preserved, flavoured, and dyed – either red or green. The
red cherries have almond flavour, while the green ones have a slight touch of mint.
If to be really picky, it’s not really a berry but a drupe – but whatever; it goes
with nearly anything! Try it with vanilla, for instance. Raspberry is a winner, no
matter if muddled, in the mixer or just on top of the drink as a garnish.
This member of the gooseberry family is a little sourer than the blackcurrant. Both
are underestimated garnishes.
One of the most beloved berries is also known for its aphrodisiac qualities. You
will need to take the green caps off before muddling, but for garnish you can just
rinse them. If you want a drink to taste like summer, use strawberries: it’s hard
to go wrong.