He's seen an uptick in savory garnishes, including herbs, oils and vegetables such as radishes and green peas.
How does Ismail select garnishes? "Stick to the flavor profile of the drink and maintain a balance, making sure the garnish doesn't upstage the cocktail," he advises.
For one thing, you'll need a good peeler to create gorgeous garnishes. The key difference in peelers is the diameter of the blade, Hartai said.
A channel knife, one with a deep V-shaped cut blade, is great for making attractive peel garnishes. You'll also need a sharp knife: A pai ii ng knife is good, Hartai said, "but get an exacto."
Similarly, a Mesquite-Grilled Pineapple Margarita contrasts the grilled fruit muddled in the glass with a fresh slice of pineapple as a garnish and the glass is rimmed with a chile pequin-salt-In development now, says Ortiz, are also fruit garnishes made with chile pequin to enhance its flavors--a technique borrowed from Mexican cuisine.
"Cocktails have been getting more culinary over the past five or six years and garnishes add another dimension where you can be creative," posits Frankel.
Her new book, Market-Fresh Mixology: Cocktails for Every Season (Agate Surrey 2008), champions the fresh approach with simple summery garnishes such as a wedge of watermelon, a cherry tomato or a husked gooseberry.
To help with the local garnishes, Seger has set up what he calls his El HerBARio at Nacional 27, a series of planters outside and inside the bar where he grows mint, basil, thyme and herbs that he clips for his drinks.
One thing to remember is that garnishes are food items.
A common mistake at the bar is prepping small quantities of cut lemons, limes or other garnishes in hand sinks at the bar.
There's Berry Beth, the punk-haired strawberry that garnishes the Strawberry Daiquiri and the Caribbean Ruth, and Lizard Lips, a little guy made from a lime slice wedged inside an orange wedge with pineapple leaf tongues and parasol, which garnishes the Electric Lizard, Euphoria, Frozen Margaritas and the Pain in the Rita cocktails.
The garnishes also drive beverage sales, which helps to offset the labor and cost involved in making them.
And now, at the height of the cocktail craze, so very much is happening in the glass that it's imperative that produce garnishes
be worthy cocktail accompaniments.
Other fruits are great fodder for cocktail garnishes
Savvy operators know they can create a niche with creative cocktail garnishes
that catch the eye and tickle the taste buds.