cocktail Garnishes, Pretty with Purpose

Garnish of Lemon Peel

A cocktail with a garnish is a beautiful sight.  The pop of color from a lemon twist or the artful sprinkle of grated cinnamon can make one do a double take.  But garnishes are more than just bling for cocktails.  They can add aromatics and a unique layer of flavor that enhances a cocktail’s tastes.

Here are some common garnishes that work hard to beautify and elevate the cocktail experience.

  • Citrus Fruit. Think wedges, slices or twists of lemon, lime, and orange. Their bright yellow, green and orange colors are definitely eye-catching. But even better, these citrus garnishes also enhance the aroma and flavor of the cocktail. “Expressing” the peel or twisting a piece of citrus lets loose its fragrant oils. You can squeeze the peel over the drink surface and then rub the colored side of it around the glass rim. It’s a great way to add a hint of fresh citrus flavor.

  • Maraschino Cherries. These bright red fruits add fun to tropical cocktails (often alongside an umbrella – a garnish of a different sort). Their color and sweetness also liven up the more serious Old-fashioned and Manhattan. Maraschino cherries trace their origin to Croatia where Marasca cherries are grown and preserved in maraschino liqueur.

  • Olives and Onions. These little orbs of the garnish world offer a savory element to cocktails. The iconic cocktail olive stuffed with pimiento peppers adds its salty, briny, slightly sweet flavor to the classic martini. The pickled and crunchy cocktail onion brings umami notes to the Gibson cocktail, a close cousin to the martini.

  • Spices. Grated cinnamon or nutmeg are probably the two most common spices used as garnishes. They add wonderful fragrance and festive warmth to cocktails. Spices are freshly grated or ground to deliver the best flavor.

  • Herbs. Garden herbs like mint, basil, thyme, and rosemary add a wonderful aroma and pop of bright green color to cocktails. Like expressing citrus, giving herbs a good smack releases their essential oils. Fresh mint sprigs are the quintessential garnish for the classic mojito and julep. Herbs like sage and rosemary pair naturally with gin cocktails and bring a new flavor dimension.

  • Salt. Coarse salt is a classic garnish for the popular margarita. Encrusted on the glass rim, the big salt crystals are not just for decoration. Salt balances out the sweetness of the triple sec, the tartness of the lime juice and the bite of the tequila to deliver a margarita's signature taste.

While garnishes can enhance the holistic experience of a cocktail and beautify your drink, if you don’t have any on hand, don’t let that stop you from enjoying a cocktail at home. We know you don’t always have time to fuss about that stuff, so we created our bottled cocktails to taste great just the way they are.  Bottoms up!