Orange drink in rocks glass topped with orange peel (photo by iStock)
Food + Drink

Your Guide to Garnishes: How to Spruce Up a Cocktail

It’s especially fun crafting cocktails for guests, and you can add an extra flair with the right garnish. Give your cocktails a touch of pizzazz with garnishes that can add taste as well as looks.

Salt the Rim
It’s common to salt or sugar the rim of margaritas, but you can mix things up with other ingredients and even spruce up the rims of other drinks. Try seasoned salt or a zesty spice mix with your bloody mary. Salt the rim of a lemon drop to offset the sour flavors.

Essence of Orange Peel
Flaming an orange peel over your cocktail is a simple but dramatic way to enhance the flavor and presentation. Simply cut a small peel, light a match, hold it just over the cocktail and squeeze the peel above it! You’ll get a little burst of flame and the torched oils will drop to the surface of the drink.

Dessert in a Glass
Serving a sweeter cocktail like an espresso martini or a black Russian? Try crushing up gingerbread cookies or graham crackers for the rim. Want even more flair? Dip your glass into icing!

Cinnamon Sticks
Amp up your old fashioned or Manhattan by lightly toasting a cinnamon stick as a garnish. Fire it up over the stove or with a kitchen torch to produce smoky, rich and lightly spicy flavors. Speaking of flames — to really set an impressive fire, use a sprig of rosemary. The scent is heavenly and the flames certainly leap skyward!

Peeled Cucumber
Use your vegetable peeler to carve thin slices of cucumber, then curl them up and skewer them to serve on the side of cocktails like a lime margarita, a Tom Collins or a caipirinha.

Stack ’Em High
The bloody mary is ubiquitous with over-the-top garnishes! Try skewering cocktail wienies or a slice of crispy bacon. Serving a seafood lover? Add grilled shrimp or fried clams. Create a mini side salad by adding sliced cucumber, pearl onions, peppers or baby carrots. Or grill up sliders and serve one on a stick.

Proof Magazine is for Ohio spirit lovers. It is produced by Great Lakes Publishing three times a year. Don’t miss an issue by subscribing to Ohio Magazine. View a digital version of the Proof Magazine Spring 2024 edition here.