Cocktail Garnishes

To follow is a list of different garnish types. Always use fresh, washed fruit. Fruit is not only a decoration, but will also affect the taste of the cocktail.

Lemons and oranges give more juice if you first soak them in warm water. Fruit should be covered with a damp napkin and refrigerated if left overnight. Generally, fruit that is cut will not last longer than a day or so. Unattractive garnish will reflect on the quality of your drinks and should look good as well as taste good.

Balled fruit makes a great tasting addition to a cocktail or punch. Melon fruits generally do not brown or spoil quickly and can be frozen.
Use: Melons.
Prep: Use a melon baller to scoop small spheres of fruit.
This very simple decoration is often used to identify the cocktail. For example, a raisin would be used with an apple martini and a coffee bean would be used in a coffee martini.
Use: Vegetables, candy, nuts, dried fruit, cherries and berries.
Prep: In clear or translucent cocktails served straight up, a garnish is dropped in the glass and should sink to the bottom. When served with drink on the rocks or frozen, add garnish after drink is blended either on the bottom as a hidden treasure or on top as a decoration.
This term is used for whole fruit ingredients which are preserved in liquor.
Use: Any fruit or vegetable combined with any spirit.
Prep: Fill a sealable container with fruit or vegetable combination. Cover with alcohol of choice. Allow to soak at room temperature or in freezer.
It is now common to add a float of the primary spirit (i.e. vodka, dark rum, tequila) to strengthen a cocktail. Cool milk based floats are often used on hot drinks although latte style drinks have a float of frothed milk. Flowers are popular accents on Polynesian and Asian beverages.
Use: Flowers, milk, liquor.
Prep: Flowers should be plucked where the flower meets the stem and dropped gently onto the cocktail. Milk or cream is often lightly whipped and poured over the base of a spoon onto the cocktail. Frothed milk will float on its own but should be spooned from the pitcher. When floating spirits, use a bar spoon bottom side up and touching the side of the inside of the glass. Gently pour liquor over spoon so it flows from the spoon down the glass over the cocktail.
Often used with drinks served topped with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. Can also be used with drinks served with a float of milk.
Use: Coconut, chocolate, ginger.
Prep: Use a fine grater and grate over cocktail glass.
Commonly used in dirty martinis and cosmopolitans. This very simple decoration is often used to identify the cocktail. For example a gin drink with an onion will be a Gibson, a vodka drink with two or more olives will be a Dirty Martini.
Use: Small vegetables, maraschino cherries or berries.
Prep: Skewer on toothpick, stirrer or swizzle.
This technique is used to create Pousse Cafe style drinks or layered shooters. Layering spirits requires knowledge of the spirit's weight and a very gently hand. Most recipes list ingredients in the order they must be layered in the glass.
Use: Liquor.
Prep: When layering spirits, use a bar spoon bottom-side up and touching the inside of the glass. Gently pour liquor over spoon so it flows from the spoon down the side of the glass into a layer. Allow it to sit a moment before adding the next layer. Some find it helpful to use a pourer spout in the bottle to allow for better control of flow.
Don't waste peel or skin of fruits, they often can be cut into shapes and draped over the glass to add an element of sophistication. Try stars, zigzags, half moons or initials.
Use: Citrus or orchard fruit.
Prep: With sharp paring knife or small cookie cutter, shape peel. If peel needs to be flattened soak in ice water then dip in boiling water and smooth on counter top with heavy flat object.
Rimming the glass most commonly occurs when preparing Margaritas and Daiquiris. Many overlook the benefits to rimming the glass when serving hot chocolate, cider and coffee based drinks. A salt and pepper rim enhances tomato based cocktails.
Use: Chocolate powder, herbs and spices, shredded coconut.
Prep: Prepare a small plate with desired spice. With fruit wedge, dampen the rim of the serving glass. Gently touch glass rim into spice. Add cocktail mixture to glass. To garnish with shredded coconut or chocolate, prepare as described above but dampen glass rim with honey, icing or heavy sugar syrup.
Often used with larger fruit and pitted fruit to add natural flavour.
Use: Orchard fruits, melons, tropical fruits and berries.
The spiral can be used as a twist or simply as eye candy.
Use: Citrus fruit.
Prep: Cut fruit in half long ways. Then slice long strips no wider than 1/4 inch or 1/4 cm. Soak in ice water. Method one: wrap tightly around straw and freeze. This is similar to using curlers on hair. Method two: dip strips one at a time in boiling water then return immediately to ice water. They should naturally curl up.
A term often used in the preparation of the cocktail. You can squeeze fruit wedges or halved fruit. Never serve the cocktail with a piece of squeezed fruit, only the juice.
Use: Citrus fruit.
Prep: A squeeze is performed by tightly gripping the wedge allowing the fruit juices to escape into the cocktail. It is appropriate to then rub the rim of the glass with the fruit before disposal.
A cocktail served with a twist benefits from the oils in the fruit's skin. To release the oils in the peel or leaf pinch or twist the rind then set it in the glass.
Use: Citrus fruit or mint.
Prep: Slice the fruit and remove pulp so only the outer layer remains. Use within 12 hours. See Spiral for shaping techniques.
Many tropical drinks are served with a wedge of fruit balanced on the glass rim. You may add a jewel by forcing a toothpick through the tough outer layer of the wedge.
Use: Citrus fruit, orchard fruit or pineapple.
Prep: For orchard fruit cut in half top to bottom three or more times. For citrus and orchard fruit, cut across the middle from top to bottom of the fruit. Then place flat end down and slice top to bottom. For pineapple, cut a 1/4 to 1/2 inch slice across the middle. Lay flat and cut into six pieces. Please note that orchard fruit will brown quickly. To delay this add lemon or lime juice to ice water or squeeze citrus juice onto fruit.
Commonly used garnish for tropical drinks using fresh fruit represented in the cocktail. Wheels look elegant hanging from the rim of all glassware. They can also be floated in punches and swizzles.
Use: Citrus fruit, star fruit or kiwi.
Prep: Slice along the width of fruit no more than 1/4 inch or 1/2 cm thick. Method one: twist and skewer with toothpick. Method 2: cut one end and slide over rim of glass.