12 Easy Cocktail Garnish Ideas That Will Make You a Better Home Bartender
You can be a pro bartender at home, no problem. Just use our cocktail garnish ideas to serve up sharp-looking drinks!
Fresh herbs, such as mint, rosemary and thyme, lend both flavor and visual interest to a cocktail. Smack your fresh-herb garnish against your hand before adding it to the cocktail—this will release essentials oils and add extra aroma to the drink.
Cut-Out Fruit Shapes
Use a small-ish cookie cutter to cut crisp fruits, such as apples, pears or pineapples, into various shapes. Skewer the fruit-shape on a cocktail pick, or use a sharp knife to cut a thin slice and hang it over the edge of the glass.
Pro Tip: Starfruit is naturally a fun-shaped fruit garnish.
Don’t forget to garnish your winter drinks, too! For mulled wine, spiked apple cider and glogg, the addition of a cinnamon stick will give the drink a finished look. Here’s a tasty way to warm up after a day out in the cold.
Thin Citrus Spiral
To make a spiral, the best tool to use is a channel knife, which cuts a thin rope from the peel. Roll the cut peel into a twist, or gently wrap the peel around a straw to create a twist shape. (To make a wider twist, use a paring knife to cut a slice of peel that’s one inch wide by two inches long.)
Super-Thin Citrus Slices
Use a sharp paring knife or mandoline to make extremely thin citrus slices. Use the handle of a spoon to carefully slide the citrus slices into place around the inside of your cocktail glass. This garnish works best with cocktails that are served on the rocks, as the ice will help keep the slices in place.
Chocolate shavings add extra oomph to dessert drinks like a chocolate martini or brandy alexander. Just scrape the blade of a vegetable peeler lengthwise across a room-temperature block or bar of chocolate to make curls. You can also use a Microplane grater to dust a drink with fine chocolate shavings.
It’s a classic garnish for a margarita—but it’s easy enough to add sparkle to all sorts of drinks. First, moisten the top edge of the glass with the juice from a lime or lemon wedge. Add salt to a shallow dish, and dip the top of the glass into the salt to evenly coat the edge of the glass.
A citrus wheel is a simple but classic garnish. To make a wheel, use a sharp paring knife to cut the fruit into 1/4″ to 1/8″ slices. Remove any seeds from the slice. Then cut a slit from the center of the wheel through the peel and place it on the edge of your glass.
Pickles (or Pickled Vegetables)
Pickles are another great savory cocktail garnish. The briny flavor is a perfect complement for tomato-based cocktails. Small pickle slices or mini gherkins work best; skewer ’em on a cocktail pick for best results.
A fruit wedge is a simple but classic garnish. Cut lemons, oranges or pineapple into 1/4″ or 1/2″ wedges. Then cut a slit up to the peel/rind and place the wedge on the rim of the glass. It adds tropical flair to pina coladas!
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