Give your drinks a makeover with Warren Mendes’ cocktail garnish ideas – think frozen G&Ts, floral spring Spritz and a Bloody Mary that’s good enough to eat.
“I’m going to show you three ways to level up your favourite drink with these bold cocktail garnishes. Whether you love a classic G&T, are a devotee of the Spritz or serve up Bloody Marys with your Sunday brunch, here are three ways to mix up your favourite drink for spring. ”
“If you thought there was no way to put a twist on the classic G&T, think again. I’ve turned tonic from a mixer into a beautiful snowy granita perfumed with thyme. Mix things up for special occasions with this fancy, but super simple, garnish. All you need to do when happy hour strikes is scrape the ice, scoop into glasses and top with a shot of your favourite gin.”
“For all you Spritz lovers out there, we’re going to amp up your fave drink with beautiful ice cubes, then all you need to do is top it up with prosecco. Simply freeze the aperitivo into XL ice cubes with soda and top with pretty edible flowers for extra wow factor. Then when you’re ready to serve all you need to do is pop the prosecco.”
“Some people think of a Bloody Mary as a ‘hair of the dog’, but here’s how to fill it out and make it a bit more brunch worthy. We know that bacon loves tomato, so of course my Peppered Crispy Bacon Garnish will pair well with your Bloody Mary. Make your Bloody Mary as usual, then garnish with crispy shards of bacon. It’s so simple. Bake the rashers until deep golden, then while still sizzling crack over some fresh black pepper. Cool on a wire rack, to make sure they remain crisp, then enjoy a savoury bite with every sip.”
Ingredients (Serves 4):
150g caster sugar
500mL tonic water
2 tsp thyme leaves
Hoshi gin, to serve
Thyme flowers (optional), to garnish
1. Place the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool completely. Stir in the thyme and tonic.
2. Pour the tonic mixture into a shallow metal container and cover with foil. Place in the freezer for 1 hour or until icy. Use a fork to stir and scrape the edges to break up any large ice crystals. Freeze, stirring and scraping with a fork or spoon every hour, for a further 2 hours or until the mixture resembles flaky crystals.
3. Divide the granita among serving glasses. Pour a shot of gin into each glass and serve immediately, garnished with thyme flowers if using.
Tip: To get ahead, make the granita recipe to the end of step 2, then transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer until you’re ready to serve.
Ingredients (Serves 4):
320mL Vero Aperitivo Spritz
170mL soda water
Edible flowers (optional)
Blood orange wedges, to serve
Brilla Prosecco, to serve
1. Combine the aperitivo and soda in a jug. Pour into ice cube trays and add edible flowers, if using. Place in the freezer overnight, or until firm.
2. Divide the ice cubes among serving glasses. Top with orange wedges and prosecco.
Ingredients (Serves 4):
4 rashers streaky bacon
Olive oil to brush
Freshly cracked black pepper
4 celery sticks, to serve
Cherry tomatoes, to serve
2 cups ice cubes
200mL Hoshi vodka
800mL tomato juice
1 lemon, zested, juiced
A few shakes Worcestershire sauce
A few shakes Tabasco sauce
½ tsp celery salt
½ tsp black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan-forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the bacon on the prepared tray and brush with oil. Split each rasher halfway with a knife, so you can thread onto the glass. Bake for 8 mins or until the bacon is crisp. Crack over the pepper to coat. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
2. To make the Bloody Mary, place the ice in a large jug. Add the vodka, tomato, lemon, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, celery salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
3. Divide the Bloody Mary among serving glasses. Garnish each glass with a celery stick, peppered bacon and cherry tomatoes.
When you’re stocking up on spirits for your batch cocktails, make sure you have quality craft gin and vodka on your shopping list. Distilled in Japan, Hoshi Gin and Hoshi Vodka are hand crafted in small batches and the stylish bottles look great on your bench or bar cart. The name Hoshi means ‘star’ in Japanese and they’re sure to shine in G&Ts, Bloody Marys and other white spirit cocktails.
To make sure you’re always set for spritz o’clock, stock up on Vero Aperitivo Spritz, Brilla Prosecco and a few bottles of soda water. A great-value Aussie alternative to Italian-made aperitivos, Vero is crafted in the NSW Riverina with local wine, citrus and herbs. Team it with authentic Italian sparkling in the form of Brilla – crisp and fruity, it’s delicious in spritz or on its own with a grazing platter.
Can’t decide between a gin and tonic and a Spritz? How about an Aperol Spritz and tonic? And if you’re in the mood to experiment, these next-level garnishes can do more than dress up the classic G&T, Bloody Mary and Spritz – you can get creative with other classic drinks, too. With the granita, try swapping the gin for vodka or use Scotch for a whisky tonic twist. Go wild with a spin on the Tiktok parmesan espresso martini by finely grating parmesan over espresso martini and then adding the peppered bacon garnish. Play with on-trend spritz flavours by swapping the aperitivo for another flavoured liqueur – think zesty Limoncello Spritz or floral Hugo Spritz made with elderflower liqueur. If you’re catering for a crowd, why not upsize your spritz and make one large ice ring instead of cubes – just freeze the mixture in a bundt pan or ring pan to create a pretty centrepiece for your punch bowl. For fuss-free dried cocktail garnishes, look for the Strangelove Tipple Topper range in selected stores, including salted lime slices, smoked pear slices and spiced pineapple wedges.