By Ori Geshury
Garnish and presentation is something that bartenders have strong feelings about. Just like we try to find the best value spirits that allow us to make high quality drinks at a reasonable markup, we're always looking for ways to up the presentation of our drinks while making them at volume.
Bobby Huegel wrote a great post asking for recommendations on different instagrams to inspire the staff at Houston's The Anvil, to re-examine their garnish game. I was familiar with a few, but they surprised me with their variety and creativity.
Here are some of my favorites:
1) Tenzin is the Fred Astaire of cocktail presentation. By sticking to the basics and introducing playful and whimsical elements, they make you smile. And they are so easy to imitate and learn from, there is nothing especially complex about them.
Of all the accounts I followed, there are iconic images that kept sticking in my mind: The kimchee layered on top of block ice, the umbrella in the winking santa mug, the single maple leaf. The Japanese soda served trash can style in a Tiki Mug. A wellspring of simplicity, inspiration, and fun.
2) Stir and Strain There's a voluptuousness to these pictures, with their abundance of cream, baked goods, and slight messiness, that makes you hungry and thirsty on an elemental level, which is what we often forget that great food and drink photography is designed to do: Erase the boundaries of space, time, and freshness and speak directly to the stomach through the ether of the internet. It's playful and casual, opulent and elegant, and especially recommended for dessert lovers.
3) The Punch Room In stark contrast to the softness of Stir and Strain, the hard, clean, sharp drinks and furniture of Charlotte's Punch Room are contrasted by the southern warmth of sunshine and rich leather, and candlelight and streaked marble. Garnishes are minimalistic but feature some of the most artfully laid out punch bowls I have ever seen. The handle is well deserved.
4) Express and Discard When Paul MacDonald was featured as a Zagat favorite instagram account, my first thoughts weren't to congratulate him, they were to congratulate Zagat for their eye for talent. Paul has been a perennial fixture at Philly's top cocktail bars, from Farmer's Cabinet to A. Bar, and now to the recently reopened Friday Saturday Sunday. It would be cliche to call his reserve and simplicity Zen, but there something austere in it. The apple and pear fans, dehydrated citrus, peels paired into m's and w's, frame the cocktails and prepare the drinker for the depth of flavor they're about to experience.
5) Jacopo Falleni For superhumanly playful, unselfconscious extraverted cocktails, nobody can hold a candle to the great Italian bartenders. Jacopo's instagram, with fast cars, pasta, suits, and smiles makes even the garnishes feel garnished. Though this insta might offend the more "sensible" craft cocktail mavens, it's impossible to deny the breadth of his talents: Limes carved into footballs, immaculate pumpkin fleur de lis, and cocktails that are simple, unrefined, and crowd pleasing.