In Holiday Spirits with The Garnish Guy

Meet Josue Romero, better known as The Garnish Guy. Josue is taking the cocktail world by storm, one drink at a time. Just the way we like it.

Josue Romero aka The Garnish Guy

We caught up with The Garnish Guy over a few beautifully designed drinks for the holiday season and he turned around some real works of art, making us wish the holidays lasted all year round.

In this series, Josue has leaned towards herbals and botanicals, focussing on balance as well as clean and crisp flavours. Contrary to what we would normally imagine holiday season drinks to consist of, he has used Becherovka and pine liqueurs with Vodka, Gin, and Mezcal as the three main spirits in this set.

If you are looking for a few beautiful drinks to enjoy this week, The Odd Birds Bar in St. Augustine Florida is where to need to be. Of course, if you can’t make it all the way there, you can find inspiration right here. Read on.

 

A love for cocktail garnishes – when did you discover this and what brought it on?

Even though my degree is in Finance, I’ve always had a passion for arts, I actually took several art classes in college.  Every time I go to a new city, the first thing I do is to check out the museums and art galleries, and then the bars of course. My love for both allows me to create, innovate, experiment, and go as wild as my imagination allows me.

Did bartending happen by choice or accident?

I started bartending when I was in college, actually, a friend of mine wanted to go on vacation but nobody was able to cover his shift, I didn’t have the bartending experience but I had the drinking experience so I knew many cocktails recipes. Back then it was an easy way to make extra cash. As the years passed, it developed to the career I have come to love and respect.  

What according to you is a common mistake one tends to make when garnishing cocktails? At what point does it cross a line into becoming over the top?

Garnish, by definition, means ‘embellish’, and in this case, to embellish drinks. Some garnishes are edible, some are not, sometimes they are intended to be a joke, and sometimes they are to enhance the aromatic element of the cocktail. When the garnish is too over the top, that gets in the way of actually enjoying the drink, then it is not functional. 

Fallen Ornaments By Josue Romero
Fallen Ornaments By Josue Romero | Image: Tucker Joenz | 1 1/2 oz Bleu Storm Vodka 1/2 oz Peychaud’s Aperitivo 1/2 oz Huana Guanabana Liquer 3/4 oz Cabernet Reduction Syrup 1 oz Lemon Juice 2 dashes Peychaud Bitters

What, according to you, is a garnish trend that is possibly overdone or not really up your alley?

There are bars for every style of drinks, their garnishes go accordingly.  It is very unlikely you’ll see me at a tiki bar, as I am not too fond of their style. I am not saying tiki-style drinks/garnish should go away (because some people live for it), but you won’t see much of me there. 

Any particular challenges you face when coming up with garnish ideas for festive cocktails?

The challenge is creating something innovative, unique, and bringing a new idea to the table. The garnish entices the senses before one has even tasted the drink. When creating a festive cocktail, the task is to clearly show the consumer that the cocktail has a theme without being overwhelming and becoming non-functional. 

The Trail Maker By Josue Romero
The Trail Maker By Josue Romero | Image: Tucker Joenz | 1 1/2 oz Elation Vodka 1/2 oz Lairds Applejack 1/4 oz Becherovka 1/4 oz Zirbenz Stone Pine Liquer 1/2 oz Barenjager Honey 3/4 oz Lemon Juice 2 dashes Bitter Truth Peach Bitters

 As a bartender, you have probably seen trends come and go like changing seasons. What is one trend that you think needs to make a comeback and why?

 I am a big fan of glassware, it is my favourite type of garnish for cocktails. I feel vintage glasses should come back, furthermore, grandma-style mugs, or vessels that are not intended for drinks and used to served cocktails, I am all about. Just make sure they are safe for consumption. 

 Any industry heroes you are inspired by?

There are many people in the industry I look up to, some by the challenges they have overcome, others by their complexity of recipes and how well the ingredients work together. Bob Peters and Julio Cabrera are the first names that came to my mind. 

The Vesper By Josue Romero
The Vesper By Josue Romero | Image: Tucker Joenz | 3 oz The Botanist Gin 1 oz Zubrowka Vodka 1/2 oz Lillet 1872

We’ve worked up a thirst, and we hope so have you. Follow Josue on Instagram for continued inspiration on how to garnish your drinks. Leave him some love and tell him how much you liked this article.

We at Dram Attic wish you a very Merry Christmas and fabulous New Year! May this new year be the best one yet!

 

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