There’s something magical about heading to a bar, choosing your drink and receiving the prettiest damn cocktail you’ve ever seen. Gorgeous, colorful liquors topped off with twirls of citrus peel, and... flowers?! (Yes, you can garnish with flowers!) But when you get home after a long day and go to shake up the marg you've been dreaming about, is it reaaaaally worth waiting even longer to decorate your drink before taking a sip? Well, we think it just might be. Welcome to the wonderful world of garnishes.
What’s a garnish for, anyway?
Garnishes are first and foremost a treat for the eyes—there’s no denying that a cocktail looks prettier with a rainbow of berries perched on the rim. But they’re much more than that! Most garnishes can totally change the experience of a cocktail, adding new scents and flavors to your drink. Think of a garnish like bitters—is your Old Fashioned going to be a DISASTER without those two dashes of bitters? No, but it is going to be missing some depth and dimension of flavor. Some cocktails really sparkle with an added spritz of citrus oil, and a garnish is how you get that oomph. Here's a look at our favorite at-home garnishes:
You know we looooove to keep fresh citrus handy on our bar cart, and that’s not just for the juice! A twist of citrus peel is a classic garnish for good reason—citrus oil is TASTY. Lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit...there’s no wrong answer because they’re all damn good. Use a paring knife or a good ol’ vegetable peeler to slice off a sliver of peel (try to leave behind as much pith as you can). Grab both ends of your peel, twist over the drink to release the oils, and then run the peel along the rim of the glass before perching it on the edge or popping it right into that cocktail. Yum. If you wanna level up your twists, try using a channel knife for thin strips that you can twirl into spirals. That bougie bartender can be YOU.
Name a fruit and it probably makes a great garnish. Wheels of lemon and lime, apples cut in a fan or a juicy wedge of pineapple... the possibilities are limitless. A little extra accoutrement can expand your options even more—popping some berries on a skewer or swizzle stick means that your cocktails will have stirrers that actually impart flavor. Your next dinner party guests are gonna be ooh-ing and aah-ing!
Herbs and Flowers
The aromatic potential here is bananas! A sprig of rosemary instantly adds complexity and a slight savory quality to a cocktail. Rose petals? How romantic (and delicious!) If flowers are your garnish of the day, we recommend sticking to edible ones like lavender, pansies, and orchids—even if you’re not planning on snacking after that last sip, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
There’s an endless array of options waiting for you in the wonderful world of garnishes. From classic standbys like cocktail onions and olives to sweet treats like sugar rims and candy canes, the sky is the limit. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the recipe either - that's the best part. Maybe your signature Mojito uses lemon slices instead of lime! Maybe you’re mixing up Halloween cocktails and throw a pair of gummy fangs on the glass. Whatever garnishes you experiment with, have FUN with it!