Delicious looking beer cocktail with garnishes

5 Best Garnishes To Give Your Beer Cocktails A Twist!

Delicious looking beer cocktail with garnishes

It usually takes dedicated brewers weeks and months to ferment beers, possibly even longer for the aging process. You'd think we'd tip our hats and simply serve them as they're intended: poured into a glass or straight from the bottle. Alas, beer seems somewhat non-conformist and avant-garde and practically begs for creative experimentation.

Many customers consider themselves a "beer person" or "liquor person" – however, you may come across someone who prefers both simultaneously.

Beer cocktails are just what they seem: beer mixed with other ingredients fabricated into a refreshing drink that either a beer or liquor person will love! These unique concoctions also give off laid-back vibes, requiring nothing more than the beer itself. For example, a "Black and Tan" is just half pale ale or lager and half porter or stout.

Like traditional liquor-based cocktails, garnishes are what really infuse flavor and excitement into a bubbly beverage. Aside from adding color and interest, the right garnish can unlock hidden notes and natural flavors in beer. Here are five of the best garnishes for beer cocktails.

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1. Herbs and Leaves

Moscow mule in copper mugs with mint garnishes

Herbs such as lavender, thyme, basil, mint, and lavender permeate with aromatics and flavor and look incredibly fresh in a glass.

Perhaps one of the most popular herb garnishes is mint, which comes in several different types if you choose to grow it yourself – apple mint, pineapple mint, chocolate mint, and double mint are just a few.

For example, a classic Mint Mojito can be transformed into a beer cocktail that even famous pirates and swashbucklers would have salivated over. 

A beer mojito replaces club soda with beer and keeps the rest of the ingredients the same: fresh mint, simple syrup, white rum, limes, and crushed ice. Wheat beer is perfect for a beer mojito, which pairs well with citrus, complementing its naturally tangy taste.

Before adding any fresh herb to a beer cocktail, always slap it against your hand to release its oils and aroma.

2. Fresh or Pickled Veggies

Bloody Mary beer cocktails with pickled vegetables

Fresh vegetable garnishes add a satisfying crunch to a beer cocktail. Whether it's a cucumber, carrot ribbon, or a skewer of tomatoes, veggies pair best with less pungent beers, such as pale lagers, wheat beers, cream ales, and pilsners.

On the other hand, pickled vegetables are an excellent option for bolder brews. You might consider using pickled onion pearls, green beans, French cornichons, or Italian giardiniera.

Mixologists can prepare veggie garnishes in various ways. Peelers work well for creating cucumber and carrot ribbons, while mandolines can cut through thicker vegetables – just be sure to use the handguard to prevent injury.

For pickled veggie garnishes, skewers that sit just over the glass rim are best.

3. Fresh or Frozen Fruit

Cocktail with strawberry garnish in a skewer

Fruit is a classic garnish for traditional cocktails. They're also ideal for beer cocktails with a vibrant base.

As the weather warms, light and fruity summer beers replace wintry hops at social gatherings and are a preferred choice for days lounging poolside.

Berries, in particular, are perfect for complementing the natural fruit tones found in beer, as are cherries. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are freshest during the summer and can even be skewered with herbs for color and taste.

Dehydrated fruits are another alternative for a subtle sweetness and a hint of sophistication in beer cocktails.

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4. Citrus

Cocktail drink with a creative citrus garnish

Citrus is a favored garnish for conventional alcoholic drinks, but they're also well suited for beer cocktails. From spirals to wedges and even wheels, lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges bring out tangy notes and are aesthetically pleasing.

It's almost an unwritten law to add lemon or lime to Mexican lagers and orange to Belgian wheat beers. Without them, they just don't taste the same – and you're bound to find several other beers that gain a boost from citrus.

Citrus garnishes also deliver opportunities for fun and decorative creations, especially during the summer when patrons are excited about more tropical, colorful beverages.

You don't have to make your citrus designs complicated, either. Easy cuts and a few toothpicks for holding pieces together are straightforward ways to create sun or flower designs. You may find that oranges, limes, and lemons are the easiest to use when making these unique garnishes.

5. Crispy Bacon

Beer cocktail with bacon as garnish

With a zing of salty satisfaction, crispy bacon is one of those magic ingredients that kick every flavor up 10 notches! Add bacon to bitter hops and IPAs to cut some of the meat’s richness and enhance your brew.

A classic Bloody Mary is a liquor-and-tomato-based cocktail that utilizes bacon frequently. Similarly, Bloody Beer – also known as a Mexican Michelada – is a twist on a classic cocktail that will become everyone's new favorite drink.

You'll want to use a lighter beer for making Micheladas, such as Corona Extra, Sol Cerveza, Tecate, or Landshark Lager. While there are several versions of this traditional Mexican beer cocktail, you might include tomato juice, celery, lime juice and wedges, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and pickled jalapeño juice.

Remember to balance your drink and complement the spice with a smoky, crispy bacon garnish!

Edible Décor for Delicious Beer Cocktails

Beer is a versatile quencher you can incorporate into many cocktail recipes. Whatever you decide to garnish a cocktail can make it even more special. Of course, these are only a few edible decorations you might consider. 

Have fun creating and experimenting with different flavor combinations to find the perfect garnishes for your favorite beer cocktails!

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