One Cocktail, Please, Heavy on the Garnish

Categories: Booze

Thumbnail image for Anvil 003.jpg
Anvil.
When I became interested in cocktails, especially rarer and more creative varieties of mixed drinks, I focused almost entirely on flavor, strength and composition. I judged cosmopolitans on their icy smoothness, sidecars on their subtle orange notes, and corpse revivers on that little whiff of absinthe.

Recently, however, I have been more concerned with the decorative component of my cocktails. A fancy drink requires an equally fancy garnish, and sometimes the latter outshines the former. At a hotel bar in Madrid, for example, my underwhelming martini was paired with a cute branch of delicious red currant. The juicy berries almost made up for the fact that I had spent more than 10 euros on a beverage that tasted eerily similar to NyQuil.

During a sunset drinking fest at Anvil, I marveled at the rich flavors of my delicious Black Betty (Rye, Bonal, Italian & mole bitters). Then I took a bite of the black cherry skewer, and the drink took on a whole other dimension, as the fruit brought out the bitter cocoa taste of the mole bitters. Suddenly, Black Betty was a bit sweet as well as strong: a perfect combination.

I even enjoy the simple lemon or lime wedge affixed to my glass rim, though both seem pedestrian compared to other, more creative garnish possibilities. Small, fresh and edible, I think, is the key to a good garnish. I will pass on those little umbrellas, plastic swords, and massive chunks of pineapple that inevitably topple over into your drink, splashing half of it on the table.

Recommendations for cocktails in Houston adorned with particular intriguing or adorable garnishes greatly appreciated. Any salt sculptures, perhaps, floating in giant margaritas?



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20 comments
Mix 'n Sip
Mix 'n Sip

My favorite garnish is a cognac-soaked fresh cherry in my manhattan. Would that satisfy Edgar?

McDouche
McDouche

The bloody mary at Kona's pretty much comes with a salad on a stick... celery, olives, bell pepper, and a pickle.

I think there's a drink at Beaver's that comes w/ a bacon swizzle stick.

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

I'm not sure "drinking more"="experiencing more life", or that experiencing more life will greatly impact one's feelings on drink garnishes (?) but I agree, I like a pretty, edible garnish - especially when it enhances some of the subtler flavors of a cocktail!

foot fungus
foot fungus

You're right that a garnish is an underexploited feature of the cocktail, and could be employed more aggressively to supplement (not merely embellish).

edgar
edgar

anyone who is this preoccupied with a drink's garnish has obviously not spent enough time genuinely drinking. news flash: the suns does not rise and set on anvil

Guest
Guest

The bacon bloody mary at Beaver's is probably what you're talking about, and it's not really a swizzle stick...more like a giant chunk of bacon planted in the middle of a drink. Mmmm....everything I love most in one glass.

Q.
Q.

Would it be rude to ask for a Ladder of Death, sans fire?

Walt
Walt

The sun may not rise and set on Anvil, but you can't deny that they craft some of the best cocktails in town.

Not everyone drinks to get annihilated.

Back to your PBR.

Joanna
Joanna

Edgar: Please define "genuinely drinking."

p.s. did i really imply that the sun rises and sets on anvil? unless, of course, you are being cheeky by including a veiled reference in response to my mention of Madrid, setting of The Sun Also Rises. I'm sure you're that clever.

Kyle
Kyle

That would be more of a Ladder of Intense Peril, but I'm sure they'd oblige you.

james moustache
james moustache

anvil = hipster bagsand far from a serious drinker's bar

Hoppy Feet
Hoppy Feet

Seriously, I appreciate a good backlash as much as the next guy, but there's no point in trying to hate on Anvil. They make the tastiest, most interesting cocktails in town, and they have, by far, the widest range of alcohols to mix with. Nobody else comes close (with apologies to Grand Prize, Beavers, Branch Water, etc.).

edgar
edgar

you'll understand when you've experienced a bit more life

Hoppy Feet
Hoppy Feet

Look, dickhead. There aren't any secret "serious drinkers" bars in this town, so you either mean that Anvil's not a "serious drinkers" bar because they don't offer the heaviest pour, or cause the drinks are otherwise lacking.

No, they don't pour the heaviest shot for the least money - that's why Bitterman's, Lola's and Warren's exist. But if by "serious drinker" you mean "people who take their drinks seriously", you're just wrong. And a dickhead.

Kyle
Kyle

Non sequitur and doesn't speak to the value of garnish in drinks.

The jalapeno-juice soaked green bean is an excellent addition to Rudyard's Bloody Mary, for example.

edgar
edgar

what most of you hipsters fail to understand is that the "prohibition era" drinks pimped by "mixologists" were created b/c bathtub gin was so terrible that mixers were necessary to mask poor-quality alcohol. to use premium spirits in many of these drinks TODAY is counter-productive and essentially compromises the flavor of quality hooch

Kyle
Kyle

Hey Edgar, there's no such thing as genuine drinking.

Ted Stickles
Ted Stickles

What a dick. Mad about your saggy old-man balls?

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