Easy Cocktail Garnishes to Boost Your Bartending Game

Easy Cocktail Garnishes to Boost Your Bartending Game

Dec 30, 2023Anita MacKenzie

Why garnish a cocktail? Well, we can think of three reasons. First, there’s visual appeal. The garnish is the first thing to catch your eye and eye-pleasing garnishes can highlight the experience. Next would be the aromatics. Our sense of smell is responsible for about 80% of what we taste. So, if you’ve ordered a drink and it is served with a mint sprig or lemon peel, the power of smell has already become part of the drink before it hits your taste buds. And that brings us to the last reason; as an edible treat to enjoy once you’ve finished the drink.

With the growing trend toward mixology, which emphasizes creating drinks as opposed to just making them from a recipe, garnishes are gaining a whole new importance. An impressive garnish transforms the bartender into a mixologist.


When it comes to garnishes, a little bit goes a long way, and “too much is too much”, as the saying goes. So, don’t let the idea of creating a garnish intimidate you. With fresh ingredients and the right cocktail picks, you can craft beautiful creative garnishes.


Bird Cocktail Picks

Cocktail pick garnish must-haves

There is a wide range of fruits, berries, vegetables, herbs, and spices that you can use to enhance the flavor of your drinks.

To help you create quick and easy garnishes for your next cocktail party, here's our list of must-haves:

Fruits and berries 

Lemons, oranges, limes, maraschino cherries, cucumbers, olives


Cocktail onions, celery

Herbs and Spices

Mint leaves, salt, cinnamon sticks, rosemary


Celia Bar Tool Set and Bird Cocktail Picks

Spear sugar-frosted fruit on a garnish pick and place it across the glass's rim for a visual treat. Guests can then enjoy the frosted fruit as a snack, or submerge it to release sweetness into the drink. Here frosty cranberries and an orange wedge threaded through the Bird Olive/Cocktail Picks evoke a festive, wintery scene.

Full Polished Cocktail Picks

Do the twist! This easy but elegant garnish uses a thin orange peel and fresh cranberries. The fruit and peel were sugar-frosted for a frosty appearance.

How to make this garnish:

Stick one end of the orange twist through the cocktail pin.

Thread on three or four cranberries

Twist the orange peel around once, then stick the cocktail pick through the other end.

Are you planning to host a cocktail party? One great way to add a touch of sweetness and sparkle to your cocktail garnishes is by using frosted fruit. To make frosted fruit, simply dip fresh fruit into a basic sugar syrup and then roll it in sugar. After that, let the fruit dry and you're done! Apart from cranberries, you can frost grapes, blackberries, and raspberries. 

Sugar Syrup

To make the sugar syrup combine one part granulated white sugar and one part water. Add the ingredients to a small saucepan and heat on a low setting. Constantly stir the mixture until all the sugar is dissolved and then remove it and set it aside to cool. You can leave this syrup as is or flavor it with vanilla or citrus zest. The syrup keeps well in the fridge, perfect for quick and easy make-ahead cocktail pick garnishes.


Fully Polished Olive/Cocktail Picks

Our Polished 7-piece cocktail pick set has 6 unique stainless steel garnish picks to make your guests feel special. Each set includes a stylish etched container to store them in when not in use.

Cucumber as a garnish?

That’s a big yes! The delicious and versatile cucumber (botanically classified as a fruit) adds flair to many cocktails and invites that fresh cucumber aroma with every sip.

Create the garnish above easily using a vegetable peeler or a mandolin slicer. The goal is to get wafer-thin slices so the cucumber is easy to thread through the garnish pick.

 cucumber slices wrapped around inside of cocktail glass

Photo by Sabrina Wendl on Unsplash

Another delicious way to use cucumber as a garnish is to add it directly to the drink. Chill the glass in the freezer before adding cucumber slices around the inside walls. Long ribbons create an eye-catching visual as they wrap around the inside of the glass. Then fill the glass with plenty of ice. This technique works best when making a tall drink like a Gin Fizz.


Cucumber is a great addition to cocktails as it adds a nice crunch. Nowadays, cucumber-infused vodka is gaining popularity as a substitute for gin in classic cocktails like the Gin Rickey. You can make a refreshing Vodka Rickey by mixing cucumber vodka with club soda and lime wedges. For those who prefer something more sophisticated, there's the Cucumber Martini, which requires cucumber vodka and St. Germain. St. Germain is a liqueur made from elderflowers, the white flowers that grow on elderberry plants. St. Germain is a relative newcomer to the world of liqueurs, invented by a New York distiller in 2007.


Bird Olive/Cocktail Picks in Etched Container

Party-Perfect Rims

Another way to decorate and enhance the flavor of cocktails is to rim the glass. Rims can be anything from regular salt to sprinkles. Rimming your cocktail glasses is easy and for those planning on making a signature cocktail to serve your guests, it can easily be ahead for a stress-free cocktail presentation.

Some rim ideas: colorful sanding sugars, crushed-up peppermint candies, coconut flakes, or even cocoa, crushed cookies, and graham crackers for drinks with chocolate and marshmallow flavors.

For a cocktail that leans on the savory side like a Bloody Mary, infused salts like truffle salt, chili salt, or smoked sea salt add another layer to your drink.  

What about spices? Rim mixes can also include black pepper, cayenne powder, celery salt, garam masala, and cinnamon. Since most spices are too intense to be used as a cocktail rim, as a rule of thumb, mixologists will use a mix formula that is 4 parts sugar, 1 part salt (add only with savory spices), and 1 part spice.

The first step to rimming your glass will be to wet the rim. There are 3 or 4 different ways you can use to wet the glass.

Here are the different methods for adding a rim:
  1. If your drink includes citrus, you can simply run a fresh lemon wedge around the rim before dipping.
  2. Freeze the glass. Once you take it out, the condensation that forms on the rim of the glass is all you’ll need for adhesion.
  3. Dip the glass in a simple sugar syrup. This method makes the optimal “glue” and works well with sugar or candied rims.
  4. Lay down a wet paper towel and touch the rim of the glass to it.


      Wide salt rim on cocktail glass

    Photo by Bovia & Co. Photography on Unsplash

    Not all rims are created equally. There are fine rims with a crust just around the lip of the glass and there are thicker rims like in the photo above that cover a broader portion of the glass trim. Lastly, there are half-rimmed cocktail glasses. This gives the person the option of drinking on the side without a rim or diving right into something sweet, salty, or spicy. 


    Different infused ice cubes for cocktails

    This mixture of decorative ice cubes includes mint, cranberries, cranberry and mandarin orange slices, and cranberry juice.


    Decorative Ice Cubes

    Decorative ice cubes can add a touch of panache to your cocktails. By infusing them with different flavors, they can even enhance the taste of your drink as it melts. With a bit of pre-planning, you can have them all set and ready to go.

    Investing in a high-quality ice tray is the first step towards making crystal-clear ice cubes. If you're already using a good ice maker but still end up with cloudy ice cubes, try boiling the water before freezing it. You can add a touch of flavor to your ice cubes by infusing them with fruits such as berries, lemon, and orange, or fresh sprigs of rosemary or mint. As for the liquid, you can use water, juices, coconut milk, lemonade, or coffee to make your ice cubes more interesting.

    To make decorative ice cubes, simply add your ingredients to the tray first and then cover with liquid. Just avoid using alcohol as it won't freeze!


    We hope these cocktail garnish and drink enhancement ideas have inspired the mixologist in you. Just remember that when it comes to what garnish goes with what cocktail there are plenty of cocktail guides online that can help with more traditional choices. But, if you’re all in with being a creative mixologist we think that if you make garnishes that you enjoy, that will complement the flavors of your cocktail, chances are high that your guests will love them too.

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