7 reasons why dehydrated garnishes are awesome for your bar
We’re always looking for better ways of doing things. Dehydrated garnishes one of those small steps we can take that have a big impact over time. Every step we can take – no matter how small – to make things simpler, more efficient, more beautiful, etc., has a compound effect on our profitability and joy.
Dehydrated garnishes include the usual suspects such as dry fruits like apples, lemons, oranges, limes, dried apricots, dried pineapple, and more. But it can also include things you wouldn’t expect. Meat, for example.
If you’ve ever been in the middle of a 10 cocktail rush, and thought to yourself “F*&#, I really wish I didn’t have to cut this lime wheel right now,” or “Gee whiz, this an inconvenient time for me to be making an apple fan” that’s because the smarter version of yourself was screaming at you: “this is inefficient — there’s a better way!”
Well, it’s time for this tom-foolery to stop, and for you to listen to that smarter version of yourself. Dehydrated garnishes are part of the answer, and here’s why…
They save you the time of having to cut / prepare a cocktail garnish a la minute
That’s right, instead of cutting and peeling (often adding an extra 10-20 seconds to your chit time), you get to reach, grab, and elegantly place on top.
Over the long run, that’s enough extra time to turn a busy shift from Un-Happy Hour into a relaxed and controlled experience for yourself, and your customers.
You’ll have freed up time that you can then use to keep conversations going, help out your teammates, and generally look like a pro.
2. They reduce waste by ensuring that every part of the fruit gets used (particularly in the case of citrus)
Let’s use lime and lemon wheels, for example…
Many of the bartenders I’ve seen waste a good chunk of the fruit on either side of their citrus wheels. While the fruit wastage adds up over a shift, each individual piece isn’t quite big enough to juice, or to turn into another garnish.
Even if they do intend to save it for juicing later, it usually ends up in the compost.
It’s not laziness – it’s just the path of least resistance. We all take it, it’s in our nature.
Dehydrated garnishes are a way of providing a positive path of least resistance, while also eliminating waste.
I’ve never seen anyone eliminate waste entirely from their bar, but having garnishes that you can prep ahead of time, and not have to ditch at the end of a shift, goes a very long way.
3. They look beautiful
Ever heard the expression ‘people drink with their eyes’? It’s true – the better your drinks look, the more your customers will enjoy them.
Again, using citrus as an example, the dehydration process darkens the fruit itself quite significantly. This can provide a dramatic, intriguing contrast against your drinks, allowing you to play with really interesting colour combinations – think foams, or darkly coloured combinations of liquids.
4. You can dehydrate, well, anything as a cocktail garnish
So let your creativity go wild! For example, in our Taste of Canada Cocktail Masterclass, one of our current drinks features dehydrated beef (aka beef jerky):
It’s a great way to get yourself, or your teammates, excited – especially if you’ve been pumping out the same drinks list for a while. Grabbing a bunch of dehydrated garnishes and throwing some ideas around the bar can really reinvigorate a team, and bring them closer together.
After all, variety is the spice of life – so spice it up! (Did someone just say ‘dehydrated chilis’…?)
5. Dehydrated cocktail garnishes last a very long time
Prepping garnishes ahead of a shift is a no-brainer for saving time – but can you nail down the exact amount you’re going to use, every time? If so, you’re basically Nostradamus.
There are two outcomes when you pre-prep your garnishes: you underestimate, and get caught short-handed – usually in the middle of the unexpected rush that caused you to underestimate in the first place.
Or, you overestimate – and either end up with soggy (or dried out) citrus in your customer’s glass, and/or a compost full of expensive fruit. It’s not just the fruit itself – it’s the labour that went into cutting, storing, and tossing it.
Dehydrating your garnishes means they become a lot more shelf stable.They won’t last forever, but they DO give you a much wider margin for error when you’re trying to forecast your sales, and prep accordingly.
6. Dehydrated cocktail garnishes let you control cost-per-garnish
Good bartenders are pretty darned close to perfect humans – but we’re still not machines. One person’s cuts are inevitably thicker or thinner than the next. That makes it next to impossible to accurately assign a cost-per-garnish amount to your finished drinks.
When you buy dehydrated garnishes, if they’re not ‘by the piece’ then the containers usually come with an ‘average contents’ statement – both will give you the ability to nail down your per-unit costing, and manage your inventory with ease.
7. Dehydrated citrus holds aromatics more effectively
When you strip the water out of anything, it usually intensifies the remaining ingredients. Garnishes are no different.
We’re talking about aromas, mostly – we’ve found that in terms of flavour, they don’t offer much of a boost. But the increased aromas that they impart can be used to a bartender’s advantage. (And they are still completely edible, just in case an overenthusiastic patron decides to mow down on one.)
For the real pros, you can also rest assured that a customer won’t squeeze a wheel or wedge of lemon or lime into their cocktail, throwing out the balance you’ve worked so hard to create.
Dehydrated garnishes have a ton of benefits – with a really wide range of applications. There’s so much to learn about which fruits and vegetables you can dehydrate, and the best ways to use them. If your curiosity has been piqued, come check out Nimble Bar School – we’ll up your bar game, whether you’re a home enthusiast or aspiring professional.