You can smell it in the air. Fall is here. 300-pound men are battling over a ball made of pigskin. There’s pumpkin everything on your favorite menus. And sadly, there are already Christmas decorations on the shelves of most retail stores. But as most bartenders know, fall begins in your glass. It’s time to put away the fresh berries and shelf the mint. Here is The Savory’s guide to fall garnishes.
Cinnamon is the inner bark of several types of trees that are classified under the genus Cinnamomum. Science aside, cinnamon encompasses everything that is fall: the savory, the sweet and the color. Use this as a garnish with any hot drinks, mulled wine punches or whiskey cocktails.
Star Anise is aptly named for its very recognizable star shape. It is the seed pod of an evergreen tree grown in southwestern China and Japan. Its licorice flavor is quite stronger than that of regular anise. Star anise not only lends a great flavor as a garnish but also looks fantastic on a drink. Use this garnish on a Hot Toddy, in an absinthe cocktail, or a straight up martini to add a kick.
Ginger gives your cocktail just the kick in the butt that it needs for fall. But for a garnish (or even a snack), candied ginger looks and tastes great. Use this garnish with any floral-spirited cocktails.
Candied ginger is easy to make in your own kitchen at home:
2 cups water
2 cups sugar, plus extra sugar for coating
1 ½ cup peeled and sliced ginger (Slice big, long pieces that will look good on your glass)
Combine water and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Add ginger, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, transfer ginger to a wire rack (place it over a cookie sheet or dish so your counter doesn’t get sticky.)
Let stand until dry, and then roll slices in additional sugar.
With its leaves traditionally in many stuffings and roasts, rosemary is a beautiful and fragrant plant that is a fall staple. The rosemary aroma and flavor are so powerful, just using the sprig as a garnish alone will lend a perfect nose to your fall cocktail. Get creative and stab a fresh cranberry with a rosemary sprig to add a bit of color. Use this garnish in vodka and gin cocktails, or balance your fruit-forward cocktail with the savory flavor of the rosemary.
The nutmeg that we use as seasoning is actually the seed of several species of trees in the genus Myristica. Nutmeg is commonly used in many Indonesian and Middle Eastern dishes, but here in the United States it has come to be associated with the autumnal season. Get yourself a small grater used for spices, then microplane that nutmeg on top of hot drinks or drinks with an egg white foam.