From the outside the highball can appear to be a basic two-ingredient cocktail, but it comes alive when served correctly - in a tall, ice-cold glass, with a spectacular garnish that adds body and vibrancy to the drink. World Class Ambassador Gemma Duff gives a 101 on upping your highball garnish game.
Inspiration and tips
Heightened Highballs: Garnish Game Strong
Choosing the right contemporary garnish for your highball is just as important to a customer’s perception of the drink. The modern bartender has long understood how a lemon wedge with pith still hanging on and poorly cut can deteriorate all the good work done in the glass. In today’s bar climate we can go further using the latest technology and kitchen techniques to bolster garnishes that offer both flavour and aroma, whilst also acting more sustainably and continuing to delight customers.
At a time when it has become increasingly important to keep costs down and use sustainable methods, take this opportunity to be resourceful and creative when planning your garnishes. For instance, garnishes can be curated from waste by using the latest bar technology including centrifuges and acids to create tasty additions to your drinks. Or think outside the box with ingredients like coconut flesh or emulsifying acids to create a delicious and alternative style of garnish. Better still, team up with your in-house or local chef for leftovers or waste that could be
All Eyes on the Garnish
Without a garnish the highball can be misunderstood as a simple scotch and soda. However, with a perfectly chosen garnish, chilled glass and the meticulous detail that keeps the gas tightly round up in the soda, the drink suddenly transforms itself into a delicious cocktail worthy of thousands of social media likes and an elevated aromatic experience for your guests.
Customers expect cocktails to not only delight them in taste, but also offer a visual and aromatic experience as well. Take a distinctive Johnnie Walker Red Label with a carbonated mandarin soda – with no garnish it appears nondescript as it makes its way past your customer’s eyes, but with a spiced mandarin slice it becomes a visual experience and there is an understanding that this drink is so much more.
Delighting in Dehydration
If you are choosing fruit as the accompaniment to your highball consider choosing fruits that are local to your region and season. These are easier to get your hands on and will often come at a cheaper price. The fruit should complement the flavours of your soda and offer acidity to the cocktail’s balance. Great options include fresh apple, pear, grapes, grapefruit and figs.
To limit waste and act as a sustainably conscious bar, the use of dehydrating equipment can ensure your garnishes last longer and limit waste. A food dehydrator is a small kitchen appliance that is used to dry, or dehydrate, your food. It uses a built-in fan and very low heat to reduce the water content found in fruits. You can cut fruit slices thinly and dehydrate over 24 hours to keep garnishes on hand easily. Consider adding spice to freshly cut apple slices before dehydrating them to add to your customers’ overall experience.
Atomisers and Oils - Oh My
Using essential oils and atomisers as your highball garnish can add a touch of theatre as well as aroma to heighten your customers’ senses. Essential oils are the extract from plants or fruits and are purified to impart a clean and sharp flavour to your drink. It’s a great way to limit waste and ensure that local, seasonal fruits are used to their maximum value. If you use the juice of an orange in your highball soda, perhaps look to use the orange skins to create an essential oil to atomise over the cocktail once served in front of your customer. It’ll add a zesty citrus bomb to your customer’s sense of smell, contributing to the flavour they’ll experience on first sip.
Johnnie and Crisp Apple Highball
- 50ml Johnnie Walker Black Label
- 50ml clear apple juice
- Soda to top up
- Dehydrated apple slice*
Alcohol content in grams: 15.80g
- Pour 50ml of Johnnie Walker Black Label into your highball glass
- Add 50ml of clear apple juice
- Top with soda, stir and garnish with dehydrated apple slices for an invigorating finish.
*Method for garnish:
- Cut apple into thin slices
- Lay on a dehydrator tray
- Sprinkle cinnamon over the apple slices
- Place into dehydrator for around 5 hours or as per machine instructions
- Keep dehydrated apple in container for approx. 6 month shelf life.
- Be sustainable by using waste and leftover items to create your highball garnish
- Add garnish to elevate customer experience and boost social media reach
- Where possible, choose garnishes that are local to your region and season
- Dehydrate garnish ingredients to add longevity and reduce waste
- Bring theatre and aroma to your highballs with oils and atomisers
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