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Are There Any Good Reasons to Drop That Twist?


Chris Amirault
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Edible garnishes, I can understand. But lately at work and at home I'm finding myself hesitating to drop twists into drinks.

They're warm.They're inedible. In providing an aromatic counterpoint they did their job when I twisted 'em -- hence their moniker.

Save some take-it-or-leave-it adornment, what's the point? Anyone else contemplating the permanent relegation of the spent twist to the garbage bin?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I was hoping decoration was the only reason to toss it in after twisting because I very rarely bother when making drinks for myself. I have nothing against adornment and usually do when I have guests but I don't need it to be decorated for my personal enjoyment.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Not liking adornment these days. Call me modern.

You're modern, though I don't know what that means. Out on the west coast you'll see a very different notion of modern -- forget twists, you'll have to poke your nose through shrubbery to get to your drink.

I don't understand the "wring every last bit of aroma" comment. Once plopped in, a garnish doesn't provide more aroma, does it?

Sure it does. Even the best snap-and-rub leaves substantial aromatic remnants.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
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Eat more chicken skin.

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I only don't drop the twist in when I feel like the very subtle bitterness it can impart would interfere with the drink. I long ago stopped dropping it into Sazeracs, for example, but I always put it in a Martini or Manhattan because I find the extra citrus and slight bitterness pleasing. As for not putting it into drinks that someone else has ordered, well I suspect most folks wouldn't believe it had been deployed if it wasn't sitting there in the drink.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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There can be any number of reasons to put the twist in the glass. Certainly one of them can be in order to extract a bit more of the bitter citrus oils into the drink (although I should hasten to add that you don't want bitterness from the pith). Or, as Andy points out, simply to indicate to your customer that the twist has been deployed.

Otherwise, yea, it's mostly there for visual appeal and, I suppose, as a visual reminder of the aromatic garnish from the lemon oil. But what's wrong with that? There are all kinds of garnishes we use that aren't really meant to be eaten. Things like single floated mint leaves, flowers, pineapple leaves and umbrellas come immediately to mind. With that in mind, it probably would help to pay more attention to the strictly visual element of the twist in the glass. When I want to get a lot of lemon presence, like my lemon twists in a long, broad strip which I bend and roll between my fingers all the way down its length to express maximum oils. Once this is done, the twist is flexible and slick with oil, and I twist it up in a tight roll to make a kind of "lemon twist rose" before putting it in the glass (or, sometimes, I might put a cocktail pick through the rolled up twist and perch it on the side of the glass).

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That extra bit of citrus-oily bitterness is obviously a bigger deal in some drinks -- I can't imagine a vesper without lemon peel in it, for instance -- than in others. And I do generally like the way it looks. But I'm intrigued by Andy's comment and will leave the peel out of my next Sazerac, just to see.

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

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You're modern, though I don't know what that means.

I mean it in the Adolf Loos, "Ornament and Crime" sense, in which avoiding ornament was "a sign of spiritual strength." Anti-frippery and -gewgaw. But practicality, function...

As for not putting it into drinks that someone else has ordered, well I suspect most folks wouldn't believe it had been deployed if it wasn't sitting there in the drink.

Point well taken.

There are all kinds of garnishes we use that aren't really meant to be eaten. Things like single floated mint leaves, flowers, pineapple leaves and umbrellas come immediately to mind.

I find all of those things morally, and perhaps spiritually, objectionable.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I would be very sad to have a martini with no garnish whatsover. I think the oil keeps flavoring the drink long after the twist is dropped in, and I like that lemony taste at the finish. Also it's so pretty, a zesty curlicue floating gently on the sea floor.

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Or does the alcohol somehow act as a tincture base as your glass sits? Interesting question...

I would guess the answer to that would be yes... eventually. I'm not sure how much it contributes in the amount of time it takes to work ones way through a drink though. I'm curious now, I'd hate to think I've been doing my drinks a disservice by not tossing them in. I think I need to find out.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Basic cell biology dictates that most of the citrus oil stays in, or on the surface of, any lemon peel for which you impart the traditional twist. Moreover, citrus oils that are expressed into the drink are also going to at least partially dissolve in it, imparting a different aroma from the stuff that's just sitting on the peel or engaging in a continued surface interaction between the peel and drink. So yes, leaving the twist in the drink is going to supply additional aromatics beyond those you've given it by expressing it. I actually often find this to be the case in the *negative* sense; that is, there are plenty of drinks for which I'd rather not be getting such a full olfactory blast of citrus. The sazerac's the obvious one, but there are loads of rough drafts / bartender's choices / original menu drinks that come to mind.

Also, your definition of modernism is different from mine, but visual components *are* important in terms of their function when you drink, in that we do taste with our eyes as well as our noses and mouths.

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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Expanding on Mayur's point about tasting with our eyes as well as our palates, sometimes the color contrast imparted by a twist/any garnish is just about that. A color contrast that keeps the drink from looking "naked".

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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To empirically test, twist a garnish over the sink, then drop it into one sample of pure vodka. Wait 20 minutes, fish it out then compare it against pure vodka. If you have another person, double blind it so you don't know which is which. See if you can tell the difference.

PS: I am a guy.

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I've been reflecting on when I do and don't drop it in, and I realize that, when I've twisted at the bar, I've done so in front of the guest, who therefore doesn't need the visual reminder.

Interesting thought about the vodka test. May try that Sunday....

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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There are all kinds of garnishes we use that aren't really meant to be eaten. Things like single floated mint leaves, flowers, pineapple leaves and umbrellas come immediately to mind.

I find all of those things morally, and perhaps spiritually, objectionable.

To each his own, of course. Garniture for visual presentation is something I've always felt distinguished a professional cocktail from a homemade iteration. I'm unlikely to spend time floating a leaf on the surface of the drink when I'm just making one for the wife and me, but I do like to see it when I'm at a bar.

Anyway, I do think there are plenty of good reasons to have many of these garnishes. A single floated mint leaf on the surface of a Juniperotivo, for example, serves as a visual reminder that there is mint in the drink, and thus harmonizes the experience. A pineapple leaf sticking up from a glass of Pineapple Pisco Punch has a similar effect with respect to the pineapple element of that drink.

Furthermore, signature garnishes -- whether edible, aromatic or neither -- serve as a way of differentiating one drink from another. Otherwise, you're serving an awful lot of "glasses of brown" (etc.) without a way of easily distinguishing your Manhattan from your friend's Brooklyn.

Also... sometimes it's cool to go old-school with the baroque garnish. I vastly prefer a Julep like this (wheels of citrus, berries in season, etc.) to one with a paltry garnish.

gallery_8505_276_46975.jpg

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I always thought this passage from Wm. Boothby was interesting:

Some of my recipes for the manufacture of cocktails order the dispenser to twist a piece of lemon peel into the glass in which the drink is to be served; in some establishments this is forbidden, the bartenders being ordered to twist and drop the peel into the mixing glass and strain the peel with the ice when putting the drink into the mixing glass. This is merely a matter of form, however, as the flavor is the same in both cases.

Also interesting are drinks like The Dandy, Newbury and Temptation, where multiple twists are included in the ingredient list rather than as a garnish.

Boy, it's hard to find a decent peeler, though, that doesn't take too much pith along with the zest.

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Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Boy, it's hard to find a decent peeler, though, that doesn't take too much pith along with the zest.

Yea. For big peels I prefer to use a very sharp paring knife, and then I flip it over and trim off the pith from the back. That's impractical on a volume scale, of course.

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Boy, it's hard to find a decent peeler, though, that doesn't take too much pith along with the zest.

I swear by Victorinox peelers, the problem isn't always the peeler though but the thinness/thickness of the citrus skin. Sometimes you'll take some pith away and there's nothing you can do about it, just needs to be cut away as Sam mentions.

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

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I have a zester that makes nice thin strips. For that matter, if you cut them over the glass, there's probably no need to twist with your fingers. They do make pretty curls to hang over the edge of the glass, though. Then your customer could have the choice of dropping it into the glass or off the side.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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I have a zester that makes nice thin strips. For that matter, if you cut them over the glass, there's probably no need to twist with your fingers.

Good point you've brought up there, for drinks that are 'snap-and-discard' a channel knife may/can be the best alternative as they rarely dig deep enough into lemons to extract pith so you can direct the spray of zest over the drink/stem/etc. without having to use your fingers.

Edited by evo-lution (log)

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

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