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Halloween Hack #2: Garnishes

Posted by Reese on 2008-10-30 @ 08:27pm

I’m of the opinion that garnishes by no means “make” a drink.  A good drink can always stand on its own, but in that same breath garnishes can raise a good drink to greatness.  Garnishing improves a cocktail’s visual appeal and, as we all know, we eat (and drink) with our eyes first.  I think that sentiment goes doubly for themed or special occasion cocktails.  You can take a relatively run of the mill Manhattan and add a special garnish and suddenly it’s a blood colored theme cocktail perfect for Halloween.  Here are some of my favorites from around the web.

I’ll start with the Eerie Eyeballs from The Spirit World, these are great.  I think the radish and olive eye would be quite tasty.  The Lychee eyes are good too, but I like the ones from Hostess Blog a bit better.  I think the blood looks more realistic.  If you’ve not had lychee before they have a flavor a bit like a slightly bitter green grape.  I think they would work well with almost any fruit based cocktail.

I also like the Jack Daniels O’Lanterns that Cocktail Times employed in their Halloween Cocktail.  Some seriously delicate knife work required for carving tiny faces in to those olives.  I’d recommend you execute that procedure before sampling the cocktail recipes. :)

Talk of Tomatoes has some awesome shots of their Halloween concoctions including the Liquefied Ghost, Purple People Eater, Maggotini, and Black Widow.  These are awesome!  The tiny cucumber chunks in the Maggotini are just classic.  But, let’s face it, the clear winner is the skeleton crazy straw in the Liquefied Ghost.  And you know why?  Cause crazy straws are awesome, duh.

Cook and Eat throws down the gauntlet for garnishing/decorating with their Dark Chocolate Martini.  This presentation is just absolutely gorgeous and I think it’s the glass that really sets it apart.  It looks like chocolate syrup drizzled inside the glass.

There are a couple of other ideas that I’ve been tossing around.  One could hollow out a tiny pumpkin and serve the cocktail inside.  You could even freeze them before hand.  The problem with this plan is that the pumpkin may add a bit of an off flavor to your cocktail.  Maybe I’ll explore this next year.  The second idea, which isn’t really my own, is the use of everyone’s favorite chilling ingredient and bomb component, dry ice.  Dry ice is just a classic.  If you’re going to be serving any sort of punch at a Halloween party, alcoholic or otherwise, dropping in some dry ice will give it that “witches brew” look that just works with Halloween.  I’ve also seen it used with great success in large bowl drinks, like the Scorpion.

You’ll note that the main similarity between these two uses is that both keep the dry ice away from direct skin contact.  Dry ice is cold, like supremely cold (-109F).  If it comes in contact with you skin it can burn you, well quick freeze you actually.  So, it’s use in individual cocktails needs to be done so with caution.  Make sure to warn people about the dry ice and you should be good to go.  A tiny piece, marble size, will provide plenty of good looking fog for an individual drink.

Tomorrow I’ll be covering the third hack which is what I’ve been spending the work experimenting with and also be unveiling my signature Halloween cocktail.  Until then eat some candy and enjoy a delicious cocktail.