The Best Tiki Drink Garnishes To Create A Photo-Ready Cocktail

Informational

Tiki drinks in tiki mugs with numerous garnishes

Tiki drinks are a fun and unique way to enjoy the summer. One of the most iconic features is the garnish, but what should you use? Tiki garnishes range from fresh fruit to paper umbrellas! We listed down the best garnishes that will make your cocktails camera-ready.

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What is a Tiki Drink?

A Tiki drink is a cocktail typically made with rum and is colorful, fruity, and lavishly decorated.

The essential principles of most Tiki cocktails are the same, but different elements and flavors can be used to liven things up. Common ingredients are light or dark rum, flavored syrup, exotic fruit juices, and various mixers. 

Although not all Tiki drinks use rum, it is the most popular base spirit. Fresh fruit juices, syrups, and spiced liquors like cinnamon or nutmeg, are also crucial. These beverages are known in tiki bars for being extremely strong, and they frequently contain a mix of several types of alcohol. 

The little umbrellas, which are supposed to have been developed as a technique to keep drinks cool on a hot day, are another signature. The only thing left is a wild and goofy name, and you've got a classic Tiki cocktail!

Popular Tiki Drink Garnishes

1. Pineapple

Glasses of Piña Colada with pineapple wedge as garnish

As a garnish, slices of pineapple are often in the form of a wedge. For this tiki garnish to stick to the glass, a notch is cut on the flesh side and placed on the glass's rim. 

It can be a standalone garnish if simplicity is the goal of the drink. It can also be incorporated with other tiki garnishes for a more luxurious look, as these drinks tend to be lavishly decorated and over-the-top.

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Pineapple slices are one of the most simple cocktail garnishes and are often used for Tiki drinks with pineapple juice in their ingredients list to complement further and highlight the flavor. 

This tiki garnish is used in drinks like Piña Colada, Painkiller, and Rum Punch to provide a sweet and tart addition to their overall taste. 

2. Maraschino Cherries

Bartender putting maraschino cherries in a tiki cocktail

Maraschino cherries are sweetened cherries that are vibrant red. Aside from cocktails, this widely used garnish is also incorporated in desserts like ice creams and cakes.

They bring liveliness to the appearance of a cocktail with its bright hue and provide a sweet taste to the overall experience. This tiki garnish is used in drinks like Singapore Sling, Sex on the Beach, and Blue Lagoon.

3. Cocktail Umbrellas / Paper Parasols

Cocktail umbrellas on tiki mugs

Tiny umbrellas are the most common inedible garnishes. They are made from paper, paperboard, and a toothpick. These decorations are fun and popular for Tiki drinks because they represent beaches and summer, a theme associated with the Tiki culture.

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Though inedible, cocktail umbrellas are a particular part of the overall presentation and are even essential to the identities of some specific drinks. They are often used in colorful Tiki drinks like Piña Coladas and Mai Tai.

4. Lime

Two glasses of Zombie cocktail garnished with lime wedges and cocktail umbrellas

A lime slice can be a lime wheel, a lime half-wheel, or a lime wedge. Lime wedges add a tart and acidic flavor that complements the overall taste of the cocktail. It is often used in tall drinks or those served in a highball or margarita glass.

On the other hand, lime wheels are used mainly for visual purposes, and there is no specific thickness required. It is used to garnish Tiki drinks such as Mai Tai, Mojito, Zombie, and Eastern Sour.

5. Mint

Mojito garnished with mint sprigs

Mint sprigs are three or more mint leaves attached together. They are excellent cocktail garnishes for Tiki drinks like Zombie, Mai Tai, and Suffering Bastard.

This tiki drink garnish provides a refreshing minty taste that expounds the flavor further. Most of the time, mint sprigs are used for the cocktail's appearance and to give it elegance and sophistication. However, people can choose to nibble on the leaves as a digestif.

6. Orange

A cocktail garnished with orange wheels and limes

Tiki drinks mainly use orange wheels as a garnish, although you can also opt for an orange wedge if desired. Orange slices add a sweet and tart taste to the taste buds and are also used to give the glass a vibrant splash of color.

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This tiki drink garnish is primarily used in cocktails such as Hurricane, Sex on the Beach, and Planter's Punch.

7. Lemon

Lemon wheels on a yellow plate

A slice of lemon, primarily a lemon wheel, is often used as a garnish for cocktails with citrus ingredients. If cut as a wedge, it provides a sour and acidic taste. 

It is a popular garnish for Tiki drinks like Blue Lagoon and Eastern Sour.

The Tiki Culture

Tiki idols in Hawaii

The Tiki culture is based on the lifestyle and personality of people who reside on southern Pacific islands like Hawaii and Polynesia. In the 1930s, Tiki was introduced to the U.S. as a decorating motif for bars and restaurants. 

It was created to provide a distinctive style, similar to the beach resorts and getaways in the Pacific, that appeals to Americans' vision of what it would be like to vacation there. 

"Tiki" is derived from the Maori word for the first man created. It's a Polynesian term used to refer to human figures carved in stone, derived from Tiki mythology.

A Brief History of Tiki Cocktails

Mai Tai at the beach

Though most tiki drinks are associated with Hawaiian landscapes and Polynesian flavors, they were created in California in the 1930s and 40s. Donn Beach (a.k.a. Don the Beachcomber) and Victor Bergeron (a.k.a. Trader Vic) are two significant figures in the history of tiki cocktails.

Trader Vic was the wayward prophet of Tiki, while Don the Beachcomber was its forefather. As Don the Beachcomber's main rival, he took elements from Don's highly successful restaurants and gave them his own spin. 

Along the way, Trader Vic extensively reinvented a few drink recipes. His Mai Tai is arguably his best masterpiece.

Conclusion

Our beloved Tiki drinks will not be complete without these garnishes. Hopefully, this article has enlightened you on what garnishes to use in making your signature drinks. 

What is your favorite tiki drink garnish? Let us know in the comments!

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