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By
Kali Mireva

Creative Cocktail Garnish Options to Elevate Any Drink

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Serving not only delicious but also beautiful cocktails is crucial in this day and age. People are more likely to order something that’s beautiful, whether or not it's part of the latest cocktail trends. Even unpopular cocktails can win the hearts of your customers if they are presented in a beautiful way!

Glassware is one part of the equation. When building the beverage program for your bar or restaurant, it’s a good idea to also plan for the bar glassware types you are going to need for your great cocktails. A unique glass can elevate the look of the drink and make it more desirable. Even the famous cocktails people are tired of can be made to look unique and exciting again!

But what can make a cocktail even more pretty and desirable? A good cocktail garnish, of course! There are classic cocktail garnishes but also some unique options that can make the drink even more appealing. Not to mention that garnishes can be a signature thing for your bar or restaurant. 

If you are interested in knowing how cocktail garnish options can affect the customer experience, what unique garnishes you need to try, and which are the classics you always need to have ready to go, keep reading

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Classic Cocktail Garnish Options 

A good cocktail garnish can elevate any cocktail drink. There are some classic options that bartenders everywhere use that are still worth using. Let’s see which are the cocktail garnish options you always need to have on hand for your call drinks, before diving into the unique alternatives!

Key Takeaway: Classic cocktail garnishes are great but there are some unique options that can make simple drinks more enticing. Experimenting with drinks and the cocktail garnish can help you build a one-of-a-kind beverage menu.
  • Citrus Twists - To add citrus aroma and flavor to a drink but also a beautiful detail - use lime, lemon, or orange twists. 
  • Citrus Wheels and Wedges - Another common way to use citrus fruits as garnish is by placing a wedge or wheel of lemon, lime, or orange inside the glass or on the rim. 
  • Maraschino Cherries - The well-known cherries are a common cocktails garnish for drinks like Shirley Temple or Manhattan. 
  • Olives - Green or black olives are popular garnishes for savory cocktails like the Martini and Dirty Martini.
  • Cocktail Onions - Pickled cocktail onions, often called "pearl onions," are used in cocktails like the Gibson and the classic Martini variation.
  • Mint Leaves - Mint is a common garnish for cocktails like Julep, Mohito, and Mint Julep. It’s used for many other cocktails and mocktails, too. 
  • Celery Stalks - A classic garnish for savory cocktails like Bloody Mary or Ceaser. 
  • Pineapple Wedges or Leaves - Pineapple slices or wedges, or even the leaves, can be used to garnish tropical cocktails. Some examples include Piña Colada and Mai Tai.
  • Cucumber Slices - Cucumber slices are a refreshing cocktail garnish. They are commonly used for cocktails like the Pimm's Cup and Hendrick's Gin cocktails.
  • Cinnamon Sticks - Many winter cocktails just need a cinnamon stick to be complete. Hot Toddy is a great example.
  • Grated Nutmeg - Freshly grated nutmeg is a classic garnish for creamy cocktails like the Eggnog and Brandy Alexander.
  • Lavender Sprigs - The cocktail garnish to use for a Lavender Martini or Lavender Collins is lavender springs. They give a nice, fragrant touch. 
  • Edible Flowers - Violets, pansies, and nasturtiums can be used to garnish floral and garden-themed cocktails.
  • Bitters Drops or Swirls - Angostura bitters or other aromatic bitters (see: what are bitters) can be used to create decorative designs on the surface of cocktails.
  • Herb Sprigs - Rosemary, thyme, or basil can be used as a cocktail garnish for added aroma and flavor.
  • Different Berries - Raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are all great cocktail garnish options for fruity cocktails. 
  • Pepper Grind - Freshly ground black or white pepper can be sprinkled on top of certain cocktails for a touch of spice.
  • Candied Ginger - Candied ginger slices or pieces can be used as a garnish for ginger-infused cocktails. For example, Ginger Amaretto Sour. 
  • Spices - Spices like star anise, cloves, or cardamom pods can be used to garnish warm and spiced cocktails. There is a selection of gin spices you can use, too.
  • Coconut Flakes - Shredded or toasted coconut flakes can garnish tropical and coconut-flavored cocktails.
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Unique Cocktail Garnish Options to Try

Now that we have talked about the classics and you made sure you have stocked up on all of them for your gin and tonic recipe, it’s time to look into some unique options. A cocktail garnish gives you the opportunity to experiment and show more creativity. If you want to set your bar or restaurant apart from the rest, experiment with the following: 

  • Bacon Strip -  A crispy bacon strip will add a savory touch to your cocktails, especially those with smoky or savory flavors.
  • Dehydrated Citrus Wheels and Other Fruits - Dehydrated citrus wheels, like lemon or lime, will add beauty to the cocktail but also a slight sweetness. Kiwi or pineapple can provide a unique, chewy garnish.
  • Edible Gold or Silver Leaf - Edible metallic leaf adds a touch of luxury and elegance to cocktails. 
  • Dried Chili Pepper - A whole dried chili pepper or chili flakes can garnish spicy cocktails for a fiery kick. Great examples are cocktails like Old Pepper and Mezcal Mule.
  • Pickled Vegetables - Pickled vegetables like okra, asparagus, or green beans can be a unique garnish for more savory cocktails.
  • Candied Bacon - Sweet and salty candied bacon strips can be a delightful garnish for dessert cocktails.
  • Flaming Herbs - Lighting a sprig of rosemary, thyme, or cinnamon on fire briefly before garnishing a drink will add a smoky aroma.
  • Tapioca Pearls - The pearls can float on the surface of tropical or bubble tea-inspired cocktails.
  • Popcorn - Popcorn is a playful way to garnish a cocktail. It’s great for buttery and caramel-flavored cocktails.
  • Cotton Candy - A puff of cotton candy can dissolve into the drink, adding sweetness and theatrics.
  • Marshmallow Skewer - Putting marshmallows on a skewer and toasting them slightly will make a great s'mores-inspired garnish.
  • Foam Art - By using flavored flames and bitters, you can create unique foam designs on top of a cocktail. 
  • Herb-Filled Ice Cubes - Unique ice cubes are all the rage right now, so don’t hesitate to try them as a cocktail garnish. Freeze herbs like mint, thyme, and basic in ice, and then add them to drinks!
  • Dried Flower Petals - Edible flower petals, such as rose or violet, are a fragrant and very beautiful cocktail garnish.
  • Chili-Salt Rim - Replace the traditional salty rim with a chilli-salt rim for a spicy twist. 

For some custom drinks you want to create, you can use a mix of classic and unique garnishes. Experiment to see what will go best with your cocktails in terms of looks and flavors. Have fun creating new offers for your beverage menu and gather your customers’ feedback! This will help you decide on permanent options down the line. 

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Frequently Asked Questions about Unique Cocktail Garnish Options

If you want to see more on this topic, read the FAQs listed below!

Why Use Unique Garnishes for My Cocktails?

A unique cocktail garnish can make any drinks more appealing to customers, which can help bar and restaurant owners increase sales. Garnishes can change with the seasons, too, and make the beverage menu even more interesting. 

Can I Use More Than One Garnish for a Cocktail?

Using multiple cocktails garnishes will enrich the flavors of your cocktail and will add more visual interest. Don’t be afraid of experimenting with combinations of classic and unique cocktail garnish options. 

Should I Have a Cocktail Garnish Theme? 

Having a theme for the cocktail garnishes largely depends on the style of the bar or restaurant you are running and whether or not you want to create a certain feel.  Think about the visual appeal, the atmosphere of the place, the level of creativity you want to showcase, and the inventory you have built. 

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