Friday, August 20, 2010

Lesson 4: Garnishes

Welcome back to Free Online Bartending School! In this lesson, we will go over some of the most popular garnishes that you will be using as a bartender.

So to start things off, what exactly is a garnish?

Garnish is an embellishment on a cocktail for either visual purpose or to perfect the drink. Some of the most common garnishes will be discussed below, but it includes anything from a lemon wedge, to an olive, to salt on the rim of your margarita. Some garnish is an absolute must for a cocktail, while others are there for purely visual effect. As the lesson progresses, you will need to learn what garnish is required for a given drink. But that is for later lessons.

So what are the most fundamental garnishes that bartenders use? Well, here they are:

Celery: Celery is used as a garnish mainly for the Bloody Mary. There isn’t very many other drinks where it uses celery in its drink recipe. To prepare it for the Bloody Mary, you’ll wash the celery, take it apart, and cut off its end. Some bartenders like to keep the leafy area on the celery, while others like to cut it off. That decision is up to you. Celery does go bad pretty quickly, so keep an eye out for its quality before serving it to your customers.

Cherries: Bartenders use the same maraschino cherries as the one you see on top of an ice cream sundae. For most drinks, the cherries are used solely for embellishment purposes, and you can go with or without one. Having a maraschino cherry in a drink usually makes it fun for the customer, and hence it is used often in sour drinks like, Midori Sour or Whiskey Sour. There are a few cocktails where maraschino cherries are required to be in, one of them being a Manhattan. You can buy these cherries at a local grocery store for you to practice with.

Cinnamon Sticks: Cinnamon Sticks are used frequently for coffee cocktails. They act as an embellishment and also as a stir stick for the drink. Cinnamon sticks have a wonderful aroma that adds to the enjoyment of the drink. Cinnamon sticks however tend to be relatively expensive, and most bars will not use it as a garnish. If you work at an expensive hotel, they may use it for their patrons for its coffee drinks.

Lemons: Lemons wedges are a popular garnish, and a garnish that you will need to have every day. You use lemon wedges for a wide variety of drinks and they act as both an embellishment as well as to enhance the flavor of the drink. There was a YouTube video on how to cut lemons and limes, so you can see it right below.

"How to Cut a Lemon Wheel"

Limes: Lime wedges are also used quite frequently when making cocktails. Many drink recipes will actually require you to garnish the cocktail with a lime wedge. Cuba Libre and Gin Tonic are representative examples. Again, there was a YouTube video on how to cut limes, so it can be seen right below.

"How to Cut a Lemon & Lime Wedge"

Nutmeg: Nutmeg is used in a few drinks you will prepare as a bartender. Some of the representative drinks that use nutmeg are Brandy Alexander and some of the coffee drinks. However, it does not have a huge role in the modern bar, and you will use them only occasionally when a customer orders a particular drink with nutmeg. Nutmeg has a wonderful aroma, but also can be quite over powering if you use too much of it in a drink.

Olives: In bartending, olives are used for one of the most popular cocktail, the Martini. The most popular type of olive is the small, green, pitted olives, but you can also use the larger sized olives as well. Olives can come in all sizes, and it is personal preference on what type of olive to use for your cocktails. There are also stuff olives in the market, where it uses non-traditional ingredients such as onions or anchovies to stuff its olives with. When practicing, try making a martini with different types of olives to see the difference in taste that it brings.

Onions: Pearl onions are also used as a variation on the theme for martini olives. A Martini that uses an onion instead of an olive is called a Gibson. Onions do not have a big role in the world of modern bartending, but they are still one of the fundamental garnishes that you’ll need to know about.

Oranges: Orange wedges are used mainly when making tropical drinks. Orange wedges do have a less significant role compared to limes or lemons at the bar. However, they are still occasionally used for several drinks including the sour drinks or for your Mai Tai. Other drink that you absolutely need a orange wedge is the Old Fashioned. Orange wedges can be cut in similar style as lemons and limes, as seen on the second video above.

Pineapple: Pineapple wedges can also be used quite frequently. This is especially true if your bar is used to serving tropical drinks to your customers. Serving a Pina Colada with pineapple and cherries makes the whole experience very enjoyable. Again, there is a video on how to cut pineapple wedges. Some bars like to leave the skin on while others like it off when they serve it to its customers.

"How to Cut a Pineapple Wedge"

Salt: A few drinks will require you to rim the glass with salt. One of the most popular representations in this category is the Margarita. Unless the customer asks for no salt, it is required for you to rim a glass with salt on your margarita. Other drinks that may use the salt rim are Bloody Mary or a Salty Dog. Most bar use the coarse sea salt to rim their glasses with. There is a YouTube video below on how to rim your glass with salt.

"How to Rim a Glass with Salt"

Sugar: For some drinks, you can rim the glass with sugar instead of salt. Bartenders use superfine grade sugar, and often times they color the sugar using food coloring to add an extra oomph to it. Sugar unlike salt can get real sticky real fast, so be skillful when using it. A nice Lemon Drop will usually have a sugar rim to it. There is a YouTube video below on how to rim your glass with salt or sugar.

"How to Rim a Glass with Sugar or Salt"

So here was Lesson 4 on garnishes you will use as a bartender. Be sure to master how to cut the wedges of lemons, limes, and oranges as this is an essential skill you need to possess as a bartender. Also rimming a glass with salt or sugar is another skill that you will need to become masterful with. These are the two skills you should initially focus on as you start your bartending training. As part of your training, I would also recommend you going out to buy some of the garnishes above to taste it and experiment it with some drinks. Understanding the ingredients is a critical part of becoming a great bartender.

This will conclude Lesson 4 on Garnishes. Next in Lesson 5, we will finally start getting into the alcohol aspect of bartending. Lesson 5 is about the Speed Rack and its Liquor.

We hope you enjoyed this lesson of our Free Online Bartending School, and until next time, Cheers!

Lesson 3: Mixes

Lesson 5:
Speed Rack, Ice Bin, & Speed Gun

1 comment:

Leslie Lim said...

I read your blog.I thought it was great.. Hope you have a great day. God bless.



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