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Video:Cocktail Garnishes

with Jonathon Stewart

Garnishes not only add flavor to your beverages, but they also serve as attractive decorations that liven up cocktail hour.See Transcript

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Transcript:Cocktail Garnishes

Hi, I'm Jonathon Stewart for About.com Food, and today it's all about cocktail garnishes.

If you're looking to impress your friends or guests with your bartending expertise, there's no better way to bring some bling to your beverage than by appropriately garnishing your cocktail.

And no, I'm not talking about just shoving a lime into your Corona. Here's what we've got today; check it out.

Use Limes as Garnishes

Limes are far and away the most common garnish found in cocktails these days, and are the go-to for just about any vodka or gin drink, and are often served with rum or even whiskey.

Definition of a Garnish

One quick distinction: If a garnish adds flavor to a drink, it's technically called a "garnish." If it's just there to hang out and look pretty, it's technically called "garbage."

No really, it's actually called garbage, so don't be offended if your grandfather asks for a Manhattan without the garbage. Just spare him the cherry.

Cut a Lime Garnish

Limes can go both ways, garnish or garbage. To cut a lime garnish, cut a full lime in half cross-ways, then quarter the two remaining halves.

Always rub the lime around the rim of the glass, squeeze it into your cocktail, and toss the rind in for good measure.

Cut a Lime for Decoration

To cut a lime wedge for decoration, or to give your guest the option of using the garnish, cut the lime lengthwise, then make a small slit through the center of each half.

Flip the lime over and quarter each half, then use the center slit to hang it from the side of the glass.

Use Lemons as Garnishes

Lemons can also be cut into garnish wedges, for use in drinks like vodkalLemonades or even Bloody Mary's.

These are not to be confused with twists however, which are a common garnish for martinis, and are also traditionally made solely from lemons. More often than not, when you hear someone ask for a lime twist, what they really want is a lime wedge.

Make a Lemon Twist

To make a twist, cut off both ends of a lemon, then use a spoon to remove the fruit from inside. Slice the remaining rind lengthwise into quarter-inch strips.

Wipe the rim of your glass with the rind side of the lemon peel, then twist to release the rind's oils into your drink, and drop it right in.

Cut Fruit Into Wheels

Lemons, limes and oranges can also be easily cut into "wheels," which can really spruce up the appearance of a fancy cocktail.

To cut a wheel, simply slice a thin layer from the center of your piece of fruit, then make a small cut from the center toward the rind.

If you want to hang a full wheel, make your initial slice a little thicker. Go a little thinner, and you can easily turn your wheel into a fancy spiral.

Other Types of Garnishes

Other main garnishes include cherries, olives, and whipped cream, and other typical garbage includes things like colored straws, little umbrellas, and fire.

Although, personally I wouldn't recommend lighting up anything you're planning to pour into your head.

How to Use Olives and Cherries

Olives are most often served in martinis, either on plastic swords, toothpicks, skewers, or, my favorite, cocktail monkeys.

Traditionally olives should be pimento-less, but these days you'll find them stuffed with anything from jalapeños to blue cheese.

Cherries garnish cocktails like Manhattans and sour drinks, and typically sit in the bottom of the glass or on top of the ice. Maraschino cherries are traditional, but fresh picked fruit is a tasty update.

Always remember that while cocktail garnishes can be delicious, never pick at a bartender's stash - unless you're the bartender, of course.

Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the Web at food.about.com.
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