A cocktail’s garnish should be given as much thought as the ingredients used to make the drink itself. It’s the final touch, yet it’s the first visual impression. Cherries, olives, cocktail onions, and all sorts of citrus peels and wedges may get the majority of attention, but candied ginger is a key component in a number of classic and modern cocktails, like the Penicillin, and its inclusion should never be an afterthought.
“Obvious visual benefits aside, I love a completely functional edible garnish in a cocktail,” says Jennifer Camela, general manager and beverage manager at Forsythia restaurant in Philadelphia. She uses house-made candied ginger as a garnish in several drinks, including the Whiskey Sour and Moscow Mule.
Another cocktail on the menu, Fight Fire with Fire, brings together tequila, mezcal, ginger beer, and blackberry in a glass with a habanero-sugar rim, garnished with candied ginger. “This drink in particular has a lot of bold flavors coming together, and the candied ginger really helps to highlight the ginger beer notes in the cocktail,” Camela explains.
Once the recipe for a particular garnish has been perfected, it can be used in countless ways, many of them unexpected. “We have a substantial alcohol-free program,” Camela explains. “I love to use candied ginger as a garnish for a glass of ginger beer [which is made in-house] or pear-ginger kombucha. I like a ginger-focused Whiskey Sour as well, and would love to snack on a piece of candied ginger while imbibing.”
Fortunately, candied ginger is a relatively easy garnish to make at home. Look for the youngest ginger you can find—its less-fibrous nature makes it better for candying, Camela advises—and once it’s candied, make sure not to let it sit around too long. “After a month, I find that it’s about time to make a new batch,” Camela says. “Candied ginger will dry and the flavor will lose potency after any longer. Store it in a cool dry place, in an airtight container if possible, and line your container with paper towels to help soak up residual moisture.”
How to Make Candied Ginger
Spruce up your next Sour or Mule with this easy garnish recipe.
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