Top 10 curious cocktail garnishes
When it comes to cocktail garnishes, these bartenders don’t suffer from a lack of creativity.
While they might differ in their approach, their end goal is the same: to grab the attention of the public with their cocktails, whether it is for their strikingly innovative serves, or sheer audacity.
With more than a whiff of one-upmanship in the air, these bartenders are far from shy in their mission to create the most talked about cocktail in town.
From roast chicken and batteries to raw fish and beef, nothing is off limits for this trail-blazing set of bartenders.
Scroll through for a selection of some of the most wacky, weird and innovative cocktail garnishes around…
Caramel whisky biscuit
The Kaya Toast is a twist on a whisky sour made with kaya syrup, Jim Beam Gold Bourbon, egg white, lemon juice and angostura bitters and is served with a kaya biscuit lolly.
Served at The Envoy in Hong Kong its creator describes it as a “Southeast Asian coconut jam of sugar, coconut milk, eggs, and screw pine leaves”, noting its garnish as a “nostalgic breakfast and dessert topping for many in the post-colonial regions.”
The Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon, infamously used a human pickled toe as the gruesome garnish for its Sourtoe Cocktail as part of a tradition that dates back to the 1970s. Those brave enough to have dropped the toe into their drinks and then downed it are inducted into the “Sourtoe cocktail Club” – which surprisingly has more than 50,000 members.
And while actually drinking the toe might be the last thing on most people’s agenda, one man last year did just that, swallowing the toe whole landing himself with a CA$500 fine in the process. Toes have been donated to the bar in the past, with the latest received after it was cut off in a lawn mower accident.
Scotch beef sirloin steak
With savoury cocktails all the rage, the Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa decided to mark the re-launch of its Scottish Steak Club restaurant with the Whisky Steak cocktail – a blend of Monkey Shoulder Scotch whisky and rosemary syrup served with a slice of 21-day aged Scotch beef sirloin steak for “soaking or dipping in the drink”.
Edible leaf, pak choi and lime leaves
An innovative take on a classic Vietnamese beef soup dish, the Pho Money Pho Problems cocktail is named after the 1997 hip hop track Mo Money Mo Problems by Notorious B.I.G., which was released four months after the rapper was shot dead. Created by Matt Whiley, aka Talented Mr. Fox, and on pour at Peg + Patriot, it is made using a pho distillate, pak choi, lime leaf and lime juice. It’s topped with a leaf from the Bo, or Bodhi tree, which is part of the fig family.
Peg + Patriot, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF
Burger, hot dogs and chicken wings
This monster of a “cocktail” is served up by the Score on Davie pub in Vancouver and boasts enough “garnish” to feed an entire family. Dubbed the Checkmate Caesar, the concoction comes with a whole roast chicken, burger, hot dog, chicken wings and even a brownie perched precariously atop it.
This sushi-topped cocktail joins the recently launched Kobe Beef Cocktail as part of London restaurant Sushisamba’s new culinary cocktail list.
The Tom Yam is a fresh, fiery and cooling cocktail that combines coriander, ginger, lime leaf and chili with Reyka vodka and arrives with a tiny turbot nigiri atop a shiso leaf. The brainchild of Rich Woods, head bartender for Sushisamba and sister restaurant Duck & Waffle, the culinary cocktail list is inspired by ingredients used in Sushisamba’s dishes which fuse Brazilian, Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. Woods worked closely with Sushisamba’s executive chef Cláudio Cardoso to create the cocktails.
SushiSamba, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY
Diamonds really are a girl’s best friend, particularly if the gem comes with a cocktail. This cocktail was sold at the opening night of an ice terrace at a restaurant in Moscow for $50,000.
The cocktail contained three 4-carat diamonds from the event’s jewellery sponsor, Italian company Crivelli, and contained a cocktail of made with Hennessy Richard – a blend of over 100 fully mature eaux-de-vie and is described as the “jewel in the crown of the Hennessy Cognac range”.
The costly cocktail sold for a staggering $50,000 to Andrey Melnikov, an entrepreneur and regular guest at Reka Moscow.
Another contribution from Matt Whiley at the Peg + Patriot, this Salt Beef Sazerac comes with a packet of Heinz English Mustard pegged to its rim. The cocktail itself is served with a black mustard leaf distillate that customers can add to the cocktail like they would bitters.
Peg + Patriot, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF; Tel +44 (0) 20 8709 4528
This electrifying cocktail served at Bump Caves in London is inspired by Tom Wolfe’s 1968 psychedelic non-fiction book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. The bar’s signature sip is served with a nine-volt battery designed to be licked and a bag of white powder clipped to the glass filled with a citric acid mixture that can be added to the drink as “seasoning”.
Bump Caves, 206-208 Tower Bridge Road London SE1 2UP
An entire fried chicken
Perhaps the most audacious garnish of the lot, a US bar launched this Bloody Mary cocktail last year which comes with an entire fried chicken among its various garnishes.
Served in a pitcher, the “Chicken Fried Bloody Beast” cocktail is a speciality at Sobelman’s Pub and Grill in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and includes not only an entire piece of poultry atop it, but also cheese, sausage, prawns, pickles, asparagus, mushrooms and two “Baconadoes” – skewers of bacon-wrapped jalapeño cheese balls.
It is intended to feed four people with a portion of its profits directed toward a charity food bank for those in need.