“Have you ever had Fun Dip? It’s kind of like that,” explains Fanny Chu of the colorful, sweet-tart appeal of using powdered fruit to adorn cocktails, in lieu of a salt or sugar rim.
For Chu, head bartender at Brooklyn’s Donna, the technique started with a bag of freeze-dried raspberries purchased at Trader Joe’s. Pulverized into a fine powder, it provided an eye-catching way to embellish an Espresso Martini variation devised for a Ketel One photo shoot: Chu rimmed half a coupe glass with it, adding a dusting of magenta atop the white foam for an ombre effect that resembled a pink-and-white cookie.
While raspberry has become the fruit of choice for upgrading a drink with dehydrated powders-every bartender interviewed for this article mentioned raspberry first-strawberries, blueberries, dehydrated citrus peels, even tropical fruits like pineapple and banana are being crushed into powders to add aroma, flavor and a burst of color to drinks. “You can dehydrate pretty much any fruit,” notes Chu. “You just need to make sure the water is out and it’s dehydrated and crispy.” At Donna, Chu adds a sustainable bent to the practice by rescuing citrus peels used to make cordials and gives them a second-or third-life as a fruit powder garnish.
“Dusting’s been around for decades,” observes Nikolas Zoylinos, partner at Austin craft cocktail lounge Here Nor There. “It’s a culinary skill you see on plates in restaurants. We just use a glass instead of a plate.” Zoylinos starts with fresh raspberries, frozen with liquid nitrogen then pulverized, to adorn the Final Curtain, a clarified, bottled French 75 riff that will be part of the bar’s forthcoming menu. Rather than adding a narrow strip to the glass rim, the outer surface of a highball glass is generously coated in a thick, vertical swath of raspberry powder.
To make the powdered fruit stick, the glass is pre-chilled in the freezer, then filled with ice. “It puts condensation on the outside, giving [the powder] something to hold on to,” explains Zoylinos.
The technique adds a splash of color to a drink that has little on its own, but it impacts the flavor of the drink, too. “It gives a robust raspberry flavor, so it gives an acidic element to the sweetened cocktail,” says Zoylinos, adding that it would also work well if the raspberry were mixed with cocoa powder.
Because fruit powders disperse so easily into drinks, where they disappear or create an unappealing “bleed” effect, most bartenders stick to using fruit powders on the rims of glassware. Dusted atop drinks with a firm egg white or aquafaba meringue, however, powders can also add “a bright pop of color” without dissolving into the mixture, says Alex Jump, head bartender at the Denver outpost of Death & Co. “You need a clean palette,” she explains, as well as enough structure to keep the powder from sinking into the drink.
In her It’s a Blue World, Jump demonstrates the full power of fruit powder’s decorative capabilities. To beautify the drink, a riff on the Pearl Diver, which had “the color of butter,” Jump created an oblong stencil, and dusted crushed, freeze-dried raspberries through a powdered-sugar shaker (to catch the seeds) over a spritz of gin. The fruit powder garnish added a complementary aromatic touch, echoing the raspberry eau de vie within the glass.
Since powdered fruits can offer both sweet and tart elements, bartenders suggest adorning drinks within the sour family, such as Margaritas. Cobblers are another option, since a mound of crushed ice gives firm surface area for dusting. “Anything that you would put powdered sugar on, you could use the powdered fruit,” Chu says. “Or both. They go well together.”