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  • Writer's picturemhaf626


Updated: Mar 11

A garnish dresses up even the most boring drinks making it more appealing...

Traditional cocktail and martini garnishes add an aesthetic and flavorful touch to the drink. Here are some of the most common garnishes and how they are typically done:


Not all garnishes need to be as elaborate as this one that I did for an Tiramisu Express Martini I made during the holidays but come on, doesn't it look exciting and delicious?

Below are the more traditional garnishes used in many cocktails don't be afraid to experiment with your own creativity. A garnish should complement a drink and detract from it so that's really the only rule to keep in mind.

Be sure to have nice looking garnish spears. They don't have to be made of metal but those do say style over plastic or even bamboo so have a few on hand for when guests come.

Citrus Express

Regardless if it is an orange, lemon or lime peel, it's easy to do add a pop of flavor and make a showy presentation.

Start with a vegetable peeler and cut off a piece of the fruit's peel but don't go so deep where the slice includes the "white" part of the fruit as it's bitter in taste. Take the piece and while holding it over the top of the cocktail with the outside of the peel facing the drink, fold the peel in half and watch the surface of the drink "pop" with the fruit's oil being released.

Citrus Twist

A citrus twist is a classic garnish that adds a burst of aroma to the drink. To create a twist, use a vegetable peeler or a knife to remove a thin strip of peel from a citrus fruit, such as lemon or orange. Be careful to avoid the bitter white pith. Twist the peel over the drink to release the essential oils, then rub it around the rim of the glass before dropping it in.

To make a lemon twist cocktail garnish, follow these steps:

  • Start by selecting a fresh lemon. Look for lemons that are firm and have a bright yellow color.

  • Wash the lemon thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt or residue.

  • Use a sharp knife to cut off the ends of the lemon. This will create a flat surface for stability.

  • With the lemon standing upright on one end, carefully cut a thin strip of the lemon peel from top to bottom. Try to avoid cutting into the white pith, as it can add a bitter taste to the garnish.

  • NOTE: once you become proficient with the peel process you may forgo the cutting off the ends of the lemon and hold it while you carefully peel the lemon.

  • Once you have the strip of lemon peel, gently twist it around your finger or a stirring spoon handle. This will give it a spiral shape.

  • If desired, you can place the lemon twist in a glass of ice water for a few minutes to help it hold its shape.

  • To use the lemon twist as a garnish, simply place it on the rim of the cocktail glass or float it on top of the drink.

Remember to store any unused lemon twists in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.


An olive is a staple garnish for a martini. Simply skewer one or more olives (usually green) with a cocktail pick or toothpick and place it in the drink. Some variations include stuffed olives with ingredients like blue cheese or anchovies.


Cocktail Onion

A cocktail onion is used as a garnish for a Gibson, which is a variation of the martini. These small, white onions are pickled and add a tangy flavor to the drink. Simply skewer one or more cocktail onions with a cocktail pick or toothpick and place it in the drink.


Maraschino Cherry

A maraschino cherry is a sweet and colorful garnish that is commonly used in cocktails, such as the Manhattan or the Old Fashioned. You can simply place one or more cherries on a cocktail pick or toothpick and rest it on the rim of the glass or drop it into the drink. But not everyone likes the taste of this cherry.

Boozy Cherry

Is my favorite cherry to use in cocktails. True, it is not as bring as the maraschino cherry but tastes so much better and actually adds flavor and elegance to your cocktail. My personal favorite are Luxardo Cherries.


Lemon or Lime Wheel

A lemon or lime wheel is a simple and visually appealing garnish. Slice a lemon or lime crosswise into thin rounds and place one on the rim of the glass or float it in the drink. Another variation, although you won't want to eat it, is dehydrated fruit. There are many varieties and they will do the trick of enhancing the look of the cocktail.


Mint Sprig

A mint sprig is a refreshing garnish that is commonly used in cocktails like the Mojito or the Mint Julep. Gently slap a sprig of fresh mint between your hands to release its aromatic oils, then place it in the drink.


Sugar Rim

For certain cocktails, such as the Margarita or the Sidecar, a sugar rim adds a touch of sweetness and texture. Before pouring the cocktail in the glass, moisten the rim of the glass with a lime or lemon wedge, then dip it into a plate of sugar to coat the rim.


These are just a few examples of traditional cocktail and martini garnishes. Remember, garnishes can be customized and varied based on personal preference and the specific cocktail being made. Experimentation and creativity are encouraged to enhance the visual appeal and flavor of your favorite drinks.

Barista Chocolate Bits

For expresso martinis, or chocolate cocktails or even dessert drinks try sprinkling a few of the bits on top. It just makes the drink so much more enjoyable with the small bites of chocolate flavor.

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