Dressing Cocktails Up to the Nines

Close up on a cocktail glass rim
Main image: oneinchpunch / iStock / Getty Images Plus. Cocktail images: The Lambs Club

The Lambs Club in midtown Manhattan gives cocktail guests a little something extra to enjoy with four of its cocktails. The bar/restaurant is going beyond simple sugar or salt and is dressing up the rims of these beverages.

“A fancy rim gives not only a different flavor profile but also a different textural quality, which is why it’s great to be able to play with things like sugar, salt or even pastry-like things,” says Adrienne Smith, mixologist and beverage director. “I like playing with rims—it really can change the flavor profile of a drink.”

For the bar’s Alpaca Punch ($24), the bar toasts oats, pumpkin seeds and pecans individually (since they toast at different rates), then puts them through a spice grinder so they’re somewhat uniform. It then sticks this crumble mixture to the rim of the cocktail by dipping the glass rim into simple syrup. This more adhesive mixture is important, Smith says, because the crumble has so much weight—too much for the usual lemon or lime juice to hold.

“This toasted crumble adds a different element to the Alpaca Punch,” she explains. The drink itself contains pisco, fresh pumpkin purée, cinnamon nutmeg syrup, fresh lemon juice, egg white and pecan bitters. “It’s almost a twist on a Pisco Sour, since it has the pisco and the acid from the egg white. I added the pumpkin purée for an autumnal ingredient and the rim gives it a really nice fall feel. With Thanksgiving [for instance] I often think of pies, so instead of doing something obvious like a pie crust rim I thought it would be interesting to break down the ingredients of the pie crust.”

Read this: Open Sesame: The Funky Ingredient Finding its way into Your Cocktails

The coupe glass’s rim is just an added extra, she adds. “The drink stands up on its own without the rim—it’s very balanced with the egg white, which gives frothiness and a silky mouthfeel. And we pair that with some crunch from the rim. The feedback we’ve had is guests have never had anything like this before.”

Old Sweet Song cocktail at The Lambs Club - Elevated drink rims

Another cocktail, Old Sweet Song ($25), has a biscotti crumble rim on a coupe glass, also adhered with simple syrup. The restaurant’s executive pastry chef makes lots of seasonal biscotti and when experimenting one day, Smith found the orange and fennel biscotti paired wonderfully with this beverage, which contains peach pie-infused bourbon, sweet vermouth, peach cordial and peach bitters.

“Fennel has that anise flavor that’s really surprising, and it complements bourbon but is not overwhelming and is a change from vanilla.” The biscotti is very mild, she adds, “so the little bit of orange rind brings a surprisingly acidic bite and the fennel has that wonderfully warm seasonal flavor to it. So, it’s very appropriate, not only in the summer but also through the fall. It’s been wildly popular.”

Quicksand cocktail at The Lambs Club - Elevated drink rims

The Lambs Club uses black lava salt to decorate its Smokin’ Margarita ($24) and the Quicksand ($19). The latter is a cocktail consisting of Banks 5 Island Rum, crème de cacao and fresh lime juice—a twist on a daiquiri, served in a Nick and Nora glass. It’s a surprisingly tart drink, says Smith. For the rim, she mixes lava salt with an equal number of cocoa nibs, which are toasted to bring out their natural oils and make them more aromatic. “They don’t have an incredibly impactful flavor, so I added the black lava salt to oppose the tartness of the drink to give it an overall balanced flavor.”

The Smokin’ Margarita contains reposado tequila, mezcal, fresh lime juice, agave and Cointreau, and is green. The rim for this drink is just the black lava salt and a lime wheel.

As for why she uses black lava salt instead of regular salt: “It has such a beautiful appearance, especially on a glass,” she says. “It’s very impactful visually, especially against the green of the margarita. For the Quicksand, it’s a dark brown rim, which complements the pale brown drink.

For the holiday season, Smith is planned a mescal-cranberry-rosemary cocktail with a baked meringue rim. “I’ll bake the meringue hard, then grind it up so it will look almost like snow, so is perfect for the holiday season,” she says. The garnish will adhere to a Nick and Nora glass using a citrus juice since it’s simply whipped egg whites and sugar so is light.

These rims are a lot of work though the baking—of meringues, biscotti and so forth—is all done by the restaurant’s pastry chef. The ingredients aren’t particularly expensive, so they don’t impact the cost of the cocktails dramatically.

Alpaca Punch cocktail at The Lambs Club - Elevated drink rims

Alpaca Punch

  • 2 oz. Pisco
  • 1 oz. Fresh pumpkin purée 
  • 3/4 oz. Cinnamon nutmeg syrup
  • 1/2 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Dashes toasted pecan bitters
  • 1 Egg white
  • Equal amounts of toasted oats, pumpkin seeds and pecans

Shake all ingredients with ice, then strained. Reverse dry shake (without ice) to create a nice foam with the egg white. Garnish the rim of a coupe glass with a blend consisting of equal amounts of toasted oats, pumpkin seeds and pecans.

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