- Citrus Twists
- Citrus Wheels/Slices
- Fruit Wedges
- Cocktail Cherries
- Fresh Herbs and Leaves
- Glass Rim
- Dehydrated Fruits
- Coin Twist
- Citrus Boat
- Cucumber Ribbons
- Cut-Out Fruit Shapes
- Fruit Balls
- Candied Fruits, Ginger, and Peels
- Cocktail Onions
- Whipped Cream
- Iced Fruits, Herbs, and Flowers
- Pickled Vegetables
- Chocolate Shavings
- Mini Sandwich
- Edible Flowers
- Inedible Garnishes
Everybody loves a good cocktail, and what better way to add some flair than with an exciting garnish? There are classic garnishes like lemon or lime wheels, and there are also creative and fun options that will please and excite friends and customers alike.
This blog post will explore classic and common garnish inspirations, as well as uncommon and fun ideas for you to try!
1. Citrus Twists
The citrus twist, perhaps the most typical cocktail garnish, is a fundamental but very remarkable element. It is different from the other ways fruits are garnished. Its purpose is not to add a subtle fruit flavor or visual presentation, but to impart the oil from the citrus peel to the drink.
This simple addition of oils substantially improves the flavor of a cocktail while also cutting through the sweetness of syrups or liqueurs.
Twists are commonly cut thinly, but another option is to make this garnish the highlight of your cocktail. An example of this is to cut the spiral thickly and have it envelop the inside of the glass. This will especially work for cocktails that look simple and plain.
You can also fancy up the twists by applying a few more cuts and twists, like carving the edges to make it spiky or by slicing portions of the peel to produce a different image.
Citrus twists aren't limited to just ordinary twisted peels. There are lots of ways to get funky and creative with it and achieve elegant and stunning results.
2. Citrus Wheels/Slices
Another popular cocktail garnish, citrus wheels, is made by cutting about ¼ thick inch citrus slices. Wheels are placed on the rim of the glass by slicing a slit up to the center.
On the other hand, slices can be whole round slices or half-slices and are directly put into the glass with the drink.
It is recommended to use sharp knives to ensure a clean cut of the wheels. Additionally, it is best to remove the seeds on the slices using a sharp knife for a more pristine presentation and drinking experience.
The key is to avoid making your slices too thin or too thick; small slices are fragile, while thick slices are too big for most glasses.
3. Fruit Wedges
Drinkers can squeeze more juice into the cocktail as they drink when the cut of the wedge is thicker. Citrus wedges placed into the glass add a constant taste from the first sip to the last.
Other popular fruit wedges are pineapple wedges and melon wedges. These edible fruit wedges can be beautifully styled into a flag, skewer it, or you can just simply drop it into the drink.
4. Cocktail Cherries
Cocktail cherries vary depending on the type of cherry used, its preservation method, and if it is spiked with a liquor-like brandy.
Luxardo cherries were the first cocktail cherries, which were first produced in 1905. These cherries are preserved in cherry syrup and are small and dark red, nearly black. Their taste is so powerful and complex; they're rich, tart, and fruity, with a nutty finish.
The bright red commercial cherries that are prevalent today are the American version of the original Luxardo cherries. These are bleached, dyed, and sweetened as a way of preservation.
Brandied cherries use spirits like brandy as a means of preservation. Fruit liqueur is also used to soak the cherry in other French brands.
Cocktail cherries soaked in spirits ranging from brandy and whiskey to moonshine are now available from a rising number of distilleries and commercial producers.
5. Fresh Herbs and Leaves
Greeneries like a fresh bundle of mint and pineapple fronds make a cocktail look lush and fresh.
Herb leaves, such as rosemary, thyme, or lavender, contribute flavor and aroma. Other leaves, such as pineapple fronds, are purely decorative and inform the drinker of a taste prevalent in the drink.
The most popular herb garnish is the mint. Mint as a garnish provides a crisp freshness to several drinks, making them taste even better.
Before placing your fresh-herb garnish to the cocktail, slap it against your hand to release vital oils and bring a more excellent aroma to the drink.
It stands to reason that you must always do your research before consuming any wild plant. However, wood sorrel is a great starting point because it doesn't look similar to any toxic plant..
6. Glass Rim
A quick way to garnish and add flair to a cocktail is to dress up the rim. A sugared one works nicely for a sweeter drink; you only need lemon or lime juice and granulated sugar.
Just place the citrus juice on one plate and sugar on another. Dip the rim’s edges in the liquid first, and dip it in the sugar after. Brush off the excess sugar, and voila!
A salted rim is a better fit if you're making stronger drinks, like margarita. To mix things up, you can use other salts like Kosher salt, smoked salt, and celery salt to better complement your cocktail.
Aside from salt and sugar, you can also experiment with other flavors and spices like chili powder, cocoa powder, steak seasoning, and cinnamon powder. Mixing up these spices can bring more complex flavor combinations.
Aside from berries and leaves, you can also skewer olives, pickled vegetables, cheese, and slices of fruits and vegetables like cherry tomato, jalapeno, and pineapple.
Herbs with sturdy stems such as rosemary, thyme, and lavender can be used as skewers to give a unique and natural appearance. Plus, these herb skewers dramatically influence the overall taste of the drink.
8. Dehydrated Fruits
Using dehydrated fruits can be time efficient and less costly. Contrary to fresh ingredients that you will prepare simultaneously as the cocktail, dried fruits are already sliced and ready to be garnished.
Especially when making multiple servings, having readily available dehydrated fruits to garnish your drinks can shorten the preparation time significantly.
Additionally, fresh garnishes like citrus wheels go bad quickly. Sometimes, it can't be helped when a few pieces and slices go to waste. Unlike fresh fruits, dehydrated ones have a relatively long shelf life when stored properly.
This way, wasted ingredients can be prevented. Less to no wasted resources means less wasted money.
You can dehydrate almost any fruit, but the most common fruits dried for cocktail garnishes are lemons, oranges, pineapples, limes, mangoes, and berries. The striking appearance of dehydrated fruits provides a look of sophistication to any cocktail.
9. Coin Twist
The coin twist is a simple cocktail garnish that gives your drink a refined look. It is also effortless to make. It's basically a coin-shaped piece of the peel of a fruit, such as oranges and grapefruits.
Coin twist garnishes work essentially like a citrus twist. Aside from visual purposes, its primary goal is to release the oils from the peel into the cocktail.
10. Citrus Boat
You may easily make a citrus boat with just a slice of citrus fruit. The skewer will lie on top of the glass rim, and it's a great way to dress up a variety of cocktails.
It's easy to make, and it adds a cherry on top of the garnish for a splash of color. Traditionally, it’s made with orange slices, but it also works with lemons and limes.
11. Cucumber Ribbons
Cucumber is a refreshing and straightforward garnish for cocktails. Cucumbers can be carved into a variety of shapes due to their overall firmness. For cocktails, cucumber ribbons are the most common kind.
A cucumber ribbon is a beautiful and stylish way to utilize fresh cucumber as a garnish. This simple garnish can be made in various ways - wrapped inside a glass, twisted up into a tight spiral, or curled like an accordion and skewered on a cocktail pick.
Cucumber ribbons go well with the famous gin & tonic cocktail and mostly any cocktail that involves cucumbers.
12. Cut-Out Fruit Shapes
This is probably the most flexible garnish on this list because there are so many variations that you can try and execute. You can cut the edible part of the fruit, or even the peel, to create various shapes and items. Here are some examples:
Apple Flowers / Orange Peel Flowers
Apple Flower Garnish - Image by food52.com
Apple slices make for a surprisingly lovely rose. While it may seem challenging to create the perfect petals, all you need is some light and patience. Any cocktail will undoubtedly look elegant and impressive when the flower shape is done, skewered, and placed in the glass.
Of course, you can make flowers with other fruits like pears and mangoes. Alternatively, you can also make these using the peels of the fruits like oranges.
Star-Shaped Star fruit
This one's a no-brainer because when star fruits are sliced, it is already a star shape. However, you can still refine the slice to make it look more realistic.
To do so, slim down the edges of the star shape while keeping the center full and thick. This fun-shaped fruit will surely brighten up any cocktail.
Of course, you can also make star shapes with other fruits like coconut meat and melons.
Sun-Shaped Citrus Slices
This is a creative and fun garnish to try, especially in the summertime or on bright-colored cocktails. It might seem complicated and intricate, but it is pretty simple; there is more than one way to do it. Orange and lines are great for this type of cut, but you can try this with most citrus fruits.
13. Fruit Balls
It is a pretty straightforward garnish idea in which scooped balls of fruits are garnished on the glass of the drink. The ball can be perched on the rim of the glass by cutting a small slit. You can also incorporate it into another garnish like flags, boats, or skewers.
If you're going for a simple approach, place the fruit ball on the glass and let it submerge on the cocktail. You can experiment and try out different ways of using this garnish.
Common choices of fruits for this idea are melons, dragon fruits, mangoes, and watermelons.
14. Candied Fruits, Ginger, and Peels
Instead of simply using fresh fruit as a garnish, candy it in sugar and spices to improve its flavor and look. This isn't limited to fruits; you can also make candied ginger or citrus peels.
Moreover, you can mix up the simple syrup you are using to candy the fruits by flavoring the syrup. By having the syrup flavored, the fruit is candied and sweetened, which combines with another fruity taste.
Fruits like cranberries, raspberries, and blueberries are easy and fun to candy because of their small size. No cutting and slicing are necessary. You can candy the whole fruit after washing them. Once candied, using it as garnish is up to you (It is usually skewered).
Cheese Cubes Garnish - Image by willcookforsmiles.com
If you're going to serve cheese with your cocktail, why not just garnish it with cheese? Like Bloody Mary and Michelada, delicious cocktails go incredibly well with cheese cubes or curds skewered on a stick.
Since cheese is a flexible food, you can also get creative with it. For example, you can stuff it inside an olive for a martini. You can also skewer it with other foods like olives and cherry tomatoes.
16. Cocktail Onions
Cocktail onions are brine-pickled pearl onions with traces of turmeric and paprika. They're usually pearl onions. As a result of their inherent sweetness, pearl onions go well with a wide range of drinks. Other varieties like the crystal wax sweet onion are sometimes used in place of the usual pearl onions.
When the onion is brined, it usually keeps a slightly crispy texture, which offers the cocktail a unique mouthfeel. The cocktail onion is the trademark garnish of the Gibson, which is a regular Martini garnished with a cocktail onion instead of the traditional olive.
17. Whipped Cream
Top your drinks with whipped cream for a decadent dessert. This delectable garnish is best paired with dessert cocktails and frozen beverages that use liqueur as a base spirit.
Ice cream drinks like pink squirrels and grasshoppers and hot cocktail recipes like Irish coffee or spiked cocoa would go exceptionally well with this.
18. Iced Fruits, Herbs, and Flowers
Another excellent method to add flair to your cocktail is to freeze fruits, flowers, or fresh herbs in ice. Because you'll be using ice anyhow, just add them to any cocktails served on the rocks.
With this, you can even use them to chill your cocktails. They'll offer a gorgeous splash of color to your glass, and when the ice melts, it'll release a bit of flavor.
You can also opt to freeze the fruits and skip the ice directly. This way, the drink will be less diluted because there is no ice to water down.
19. Pickled Vegetables
Another fantastic savory cocktail garnish is pickles. The salty taste is an excellent match for tomato-based drinks. It is best to use small pickle slices or mini gherkins. For best results, skewer them on a cocktail pick.
20. Chocolate Shavings
Dessert cocktails like a chocolate martini or a brandy alexander benefit from the addition of chocolate shavings.
To make curls, just scrape the blades of a vegetable peeler lengthwise across a chocolate block or bar. You may also use a Microplane grater to shave fine chocolate shavings over a drink.
21. Mini Sandwich
Mini sandwiches are great for brunch-style cocktails like Margaritas. To make the drink more exciting, you can try different fillings. A famous filling is the iconic peanut butter and jam combination.
22. Edible Flowers
Both intriguing and elegant, edible flowers as cocktail garnishes provide a fabulous flush of colors to the glass. It is not just pretty, but it has shown that flowers delight our senses in many ways. This will surely add to the overall wonderful experience of the cocktail.
However, it is essential to remember that not all flowers are appropriate as a cocktail garnish. Not all flowers are safe to eat.
Additionally, do not be easily deceived just because there are pictures of it online. We recommend being careful and wary. Do your research, and determine which ones are safe to consume.
Some good choices of edible flowers are roses, nasturtiums, lavender, violas, and orchids.
23. Inedible Garnishes
Not every garnish is meant to be consumed and eaten. Some only serve ornamental purposes. They are only placed into the cocktail to make it look good and exciting. It also adds to the overall drinking experience as our eyes are delighted with the garnishes of the cocktail.
Typical garnish objects include cocktail umbrellas, sparklers, playing cards, straws, mini bottles, swizzle sticks, and feathers.
There are so many fancy garnishes to choose from, and you can have a lot of fun being creative with how these edible decorations appear on your cocktail. We hope this inspires you to take your cocktail game up a notch!
Which of these creative cocktail garnish ideas have you tried? Let us know in the comments!