Cocktail Builder
Tips, tricks, and advice for mastering mixology.
All About Cocktail Garnishes

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.

  • Wedges: Citrus wedges are perched on the rim of a glass and can be squeezed and dropped into the drink once served. Wedges are used in Margaritas, Dark and Stormies, Bloody Marys, and more.

  • Wheels and Slices: Used to garnish cocktails like the Screwdriver, Pimm’s Cup, and Ramos Gin Fizz. Wheels and slices (half wheels) are a nice decorative (and edible) touch.

  • 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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