THE BLOG
09/18/2014 04:39 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

8 Ways to up Your Cocktail Game

National Drinks | Elyse Inamine

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"Garnishes are an expression of a bartender's style," says Shinya Yamao of New York's Piora.

"My garnishes are very simple, but they act as a sub-ingredient for the cocktail," says Yamao, who stopped by TT HQ to show us how he cuts and arranges his twists on the twist.

Here, a few more inspirations for our next cocktail at home:

① Spice sachet. Billy Sunday, Chicago: Think of this as potpourri for your Harvey Wallbanger. Alex Bachman throws juniper, yarrow, lavender, star anise, vanilla, mace and cedar in a burlap swatch and clips it to the coupe to evoke Galliano's aroma.

② Watermelon spheres with mint and citrus. Piora, New York City: Yamao gets meta with a garnish on a garnish--the balled watermelon is topped with a mint sprig and lemon and lime tassels for his rye-bolstered Wear and Tear.

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③ Orange slice. Piora: All you need is a sharp knife and nimble fingers for this delicately scored garnish.

④ Infused strawberries. Bourbon Steak, Los Angeles: How do you enhance whisky without compromising its flavor? By torching strawberries that have been macerated in crème de cacao, then slipping them under a glass to infuse them with the lingering smoke.

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⑤ Lemon slice. Piora: Yamao carefully cuts around the pith of a lemon slice to perch on the glass' lip.

⑥ Scored orange peel. Three Dots and a Dash, Chicago: "By scoring the citrus before carving off a swath, the peel retains its oils, which contribute to the cocktail's fragrance," says Paul McGee. Plus, the texture mimics the bar's decorative carved wood tikis.

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⑦ Lemon barrette. The Brooklynite, San Antonio: Local bartenders compete in informal "Garnish Wars." This triangular bad boy was Jeret Peña's winning move.

⑧ Beet rosette. Pouring Ribbons, New York City: The golden beet garnish serves as a visual contrast for the burgundy-hued Action Bronson and echoes the rose-infused whiskey it's made with.

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