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In the tradition of Art Basel, here’s a miniature manual to make sure your drinks
look as good as they taste — no matter what the occasion.
T E X T BY RYAN JAR R ELL
T he drink sent me reeling. And not in the way we all love.
My Bloody Mary was a weekly tradition, a ritualized way to
toss aside the oh-so-fashionable nervous tic I ceaselessly
sported after a grueling week, but what sat in front of me just
seemed...wrong. Sure, there was a healthful dollop of my favorite
import vodka, of course it bore the signature crimson of quality
tomato juice and Texas Pete, but it seemed off, symmetrically
dissonant, as if it would slide right off the bar top. That’s when
it hit me: no celery. A Bloody Mary simply wasn’t without that
signature verdant stalk. Garnishes, although often tossed upon
premium cocktails with an afterthought, have the ability to
make or break a drink’s core artistry. First, the basics: Any home
bar worth its salted rim should have a certain small selection of
classic garnishes. These include olives and onions for martinis,
a few sprigs of mint, a small lemon, a lime and kosher salt for
everyone’s favorite Mexican quaff. An expressive garnish that
looks impressive but is incredibly easy is the citrus twist. To
make it, simply select your favorite citrus fruit and with a sharp
paring knife cut a thin, elongated oval out of the skin. Twist the
skin over your drink, making sure to empty out the citrus oil and
run the peel along the rim of the glass. Place upon your drink for
an added visual zest, and Instagram-worthy photo opps. After
128 all, a garnish doesn’t have to be edible to be incredible. A dainty
umbrella or plastic sword can add a whimsical umph to your
lackluster liqueur. Beachside resorts and poolside bars around
the world swear by it.
Ice, Ice, Baby
Ice is an essential ingredient in almost every cocktail, so
why limit yourself to the hum-drum cubes that reluctantly
clunk out of your refrigerator’s ice machine? Besides being
incredibly easy to prepare, these dashes of sub-zero suave
can be formulated whole months in advance of a crucial
cocktail party. Adding herbs to your ice tray can add an
interesting visual counterpoint to an otherwise standard
mixed drink. Another easy way to spice up your ice is
freezing fruit juice or other more viscous substances, such
as herbs and spices. As the night wears on, the drink is
mellowed by the adulterant. For a final trick, try doing both.
Grind up some of a drink’s signature herbs, infuse it with
an appropriate fruit juice, freeze, and you have a textured
drink addendum that keeps on giving with every sip.