Plate Hate: Why Is There a Forest In My Drink?

Leslie Brenner's new Best of Guide touts Dallas' top cocktails, complete with a swanky photo spread. One of the shots mirrors an experience I've had enough of.

A high ball glass filled with glistening ice and dotted with kumquat slices is topped with not just a sprig of lavender, but a small branch. The drink, which I'm sure tastes nice enough, is featured at Bailey's Prime Plus and bears the name "Jasmine."

A few nights ago I grabbed a gin-based cocktail at Oak Cliff's Bolsa and was presented a drink with a bundle of thyme growing from the glass. "Killin' Thyme," as they called it, was a light and pleasing summer refresher laced with Hendrick's gin and peach bitters. I enjoyed every herb-scented sip, but I think a similar effect could be achieved without crowning the cocktail with a small copse of trees.

The cocktail resurgence may be a relatively recent development, but over-sized drink garnishes are nothing new. The Bloody Mary takes top honors in the giant vegetative drink garnish category, boasting an eight-inch stalk of celery turned swizzle stick and a toothpick impaled olive and pickle salad bar.

Garnish gripes aside, the nation's best mixology is nowhere near Dallas this week. Every summer, the city of New Orleans hosts a boozy networking event dubbed Tales of the Cocktail. Bartenders at the top of their game gather to award each other's greatness, swap ideas, and lay their most hated cocktails to rest. I'm sure a few of our local bartenders made the eight-hour drive in search of inspiration an epic hangover. Look for more exciting cocktail innovation upon their return.

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