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For the Holiday Toast, Shrubs and Garnishes Add the Festive Flare

Posted by: Amanda Sullivan

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“When garnishing a cocktail, remember the rule of threes,” says Michael Searles, beverage manager at Old Edwards Inn and Spa.  Choose your garnishes to enhance the flavor, but also to impact the appearance of the cocktail. While working the peel from the orange, he lets some of the oil from the fruit mist over the surface of the beverage, adding another sensory dimension. Then he coils the curly orange peel around a sprig of rosemary to show how simple it can be. The green and orange colors play off the rich cranberry-pink cocktail, the trio of colors creating a feast for the eyes as well.

One of Michael’s favorite ingredients for holiday cocktails is anything with cranberry. “I know that’s kind of expected,” he says, as he shakes up a delicious concoction that incorporates a cranberry drinking vinegar by McClary Brothers. “But there is an abundance of cool crafted ingredients today, like bitters and shrubs, so your cocktail creations are only limited by your imagination.”

Dinking vinegars, or shrubs, replace the expected simple syrup in Michael’s Christmas and adds a little something extra. “In the early tavern days, it was the owner of the tavern who made the liquor that he served to patrons. Sometimes the patrons would bring in a mixer to go with the liquor,” Michael explains.  “Often that mixer would be the pickled juice left over from the fruit that they had grown and canned. That’s how ‘shrubs’ worked their way into cocktails.”

Michael says when selecting citrus for garnish, look for the fruit that has a pebbly texture and thick skin to ensure more oil and a better structure so the part that you peel will hold its shape.

For this cocktail, Michael incorporated some, vodka, mint syrup, a dash of alpine liqueur (Green Chartreuse) and lemon gomme. The result is a tangy, resonant and slightly sweet sip of colorful holiday cheer!