All About Cocktail Garnishes

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When life gives you lemons, make a lemon drop.

Many cocktails call for a garnish, like a citrus twist or maraschino cherries. And it’s not just for looks — a garnish can really make a difference in your cocktail. Think of an old fashioned without an orange peel, or a mojito without mint leaves or lime. It’s just not the same.

Here are some tips to pick the best cocktail garnishes:

  • Citrus: Vodka-based cocktails tend to pair well with lemon and lime flavors. Tequila and rum go well with limes. Avoid citrus garnishes for cocktails with milk or cream.
  • Cherries: Maraschino Cherries pair well with any cocktail with grenadine. They’re also used with Collins mix, in Manhattans, and in some drinks with Sweet and Sour mix.
  • Olives: The quintessential garnish for Martinis. The traditional type of olive used is a green olive, like the Spanish Queen or Green Barouni olive. Do not use olives in a fruity martini.
  • Twists: A twist is a floating garnish consisting of a thin oval of a citrus peel. It adds flavor to the cocktail with the aromatic oils concentrated in the peel. Use a citrus twist in a Cosmopolitan, Lemon Drop, and Long Island Iced Tea.

Depending on the kind of garnish you choose, you may need some equipment. We recommend a channel knife for cutting citrus ($8) and a zester and stripper tool ($6). 

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Photo credit: leyamarini.com 

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