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Bar Etiquette: Discarding Your Garnish

Is it rude to dive your fingers into your cocktail, fish out the garnish and lump it on the side in a big soggy mess?

Lemon wedges, glace cherries, pineapple leaves, fragrant sprigs of mint and large orange slices make cocktails look fresh and inviting. But they can also make for futile attempts at getting your lips anywhere near the glass, unless you’re perfectly ok with losing an eye or two.

Knowing the bartender has decided on the garnish for a reason, perhaps it gives aroma like mint or citrus oils like a lemon zest, it seems rude to dive your fingers in, fish out the offending piece of fruit or herb and lump it on the side in a big soggy mess. But then struggling to access your Negroni around a giant orange wedge is also a bit ridiculous.

So what to do?

If you’re given a drink with a stirrer, as some Negronis are often served and other short drinks over ice, then it’s fine to take it out and put it on a napkin – after all these things can actually take your eye out. Who hasn’t risked falling asleep into their last Negroni? Better to be safe than eye-less.

The problem with citrus wedges and leaves is that they’re going to be soggy and then you’re not only ruining the beautiful cocktail but you’re making a mess all over the bar. No one wants to be that guy. When it comes to mint simply nudge it deeper into the drink (if you have a stirrer to hand – check for discarded ones on the bar – then it’s more of a poke than nudge) and leave it there to gently tickle your nose and caress your cheeks.

Fruit wedges depend on how awkward a person you are. Don’t care in the least what the bar staff think? Then fish it out, create a mess and enjoy your drink. Of course you could eat the fruit and thereby remove the problem entirely too. But if you’re just too restrained you’ll have to play the old game of trying to do it when no one is looking and pocketing a piece of soggy fruit. Not ideal, but at least no one is having to clean up after you. Except your dry cleaner of course.