8 Creative Cocktail Garnishes You Can Make At Home
If you’re serious about unleashing your inner mixologist, you need the tricks of the trade.
Perfecting your cocktail game requires the right ingredients, proper tools and correct glassware.
Often overlooked is the finishing touch, the pizzazz – otherwise known as the garnish.
Serving a cocktail without one is like going out on a cold day without your Jameson beanie – plain wrong. So , we sought advice from our very own Jameson Craft Ambassador, . Prepare yourself for some seriously stylish sipping tips, but first, what are these garnishes we speak of?
A garnish is an embellishment that finishes off a cocktail; without it, the glass simply doesn’t look as appealing. According to Kieran, “You always drink first with your eyes”. The garnish references the ingredients of the drink and what aroma or taste you can expect.
When you’re crafting cocktails, think about what’s inside and match it to the garnish. Decorating an Old Fashioned? Orange is your friend. Garnishes also offer sensory elements that heighten the experience through smell and taste. Next time you’re hosting a cocktail party, maintain standards with Instagram-worthy garnishes.
1. Flavoured Ice Spheres
There are two reasons to create flavoured ice: taste and visuals. As the ice melts, flavour slowly releases – and that’s where you get the Orange Burst.
Wondering how to make cocktail ice? Fill the container with water, add your filling of choice in the form of edible flowers, berries or citrus slices and freeze. You can also use the peel of an orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit: infuse the peel in water, boil for 10 minutes, strain into a bowl and freeze the flavoured water. Reuse the peel by dehydrating it in the oven overnight at a low temperature. Give cocktail ice cubes a go in your next Honey Julep.
2. Lemon Spirals
Stay classy with a swivel. This thin strip of citrus peel is all about aroma. It just so happens to look beautifully vibrant, especially in a light Irish Lemonade. It might seem silly to ask how to cut a lemon garnish – but we don’t judge. Firstly, a peeler is your best bet (or be like the pros and purchase the proper bar tool).
Peel the citrus from top to bottom and slice the peel. Alright, here is the piece de resistance: take the biggest slice and squeeze it between your fingers or roll it on the table to release the oils for added aroma and flavour – but don’t go too deep because the pith can be bitter, so the more white exposed, the more bitter it’ll be.
From there, cut the peel into shapes, and twist or fold it. The question then is how to garnish with lemon? It can go into the drink itself for a touch of flavour or set it atop the glass for aroma.
Kieran’s top tip when working with citrus is to rub the peel around the outside of the glass where you hold it. That way you’ll smell it on your hands which adds to the experience of your Whiskey Sour. It’s something he called “express and caress” – say no more.
3. Fruit Skewers
A skewer of fresh fruit is all for visual appeal but it settles the hunger pangs too. It looks great in clear or colourful cocktails and as you sip, you get to nibble on fruit for a direct hit of fresh flavour.
It’s a win-win really. Apple and pineapple are easy-to-skewer fruits but Kieran recommends aiming for seasonal fruit, opting for darker flavours such as raspberries, blackberries and strawberries in winter.
If the Devil’s Blood is anything to go by, we’re sold. Once the fruit is washed and prepped, arrange it onto a toothpick or skewer and lay it on top of the glass instead of inside the drink (no one wants to lose a berry). A cocktail fruit garnish works a treat for drinks in tall glasses but you can also keep it short and footloose with the Fancy-Free.
4. Edible Flowers
A floral arrangement will always impress and that’s why we love an edible flower cocktail garnish. It’s less about flavour and more about aesthetics, adding a pop of colour to your cocktail – take a petal out of Romeo’s Punch.
Always choose food-safe edible flowers which can be purchased from good quality grocers – don’t go rogue picking in the garden! Violas or lavender work perfectly placed on top of the glass or all the way into the liquid. We must admit this is one of our favourite creative cocktail garnish ideas.
When it comes to herbs, go fresh or go home. Fresh herbs are easy drink garnishes that make cocktails look and smell amazing with aromatic herbal notes. Kieran’s go-to herbs are fresh mint, sage, basil, rosemary and thyme.
It all comes down to what aroma and colour you’d like to add. It can represent the ingredients of a drink, like our seasonal Strawberry Basil Irish Mule or the minty fresh Jameson Smash. Just like citrus, our Craft Ambassador recommends placing the herbs on one hand and clapping it with the other to release the oils before rubbing it around the glass and decorating. Smell it before and after to notice the difference.
6. Smoked Citrus Wheel
This one comes with a warning… It’s impressive (but really, please take safety precautions when playing with fire). Place a citrus wheel or peel between your thumb and forefinger and light it with a match to heat it up. When you squeeze it, the oil catches the flame and you’ll achieve a burnt orange smell in the air which enhances the cocktail experience.
Your brain picks up the smell so you think it’s in the drink itself when it’s not – clever. Orange offers the most flame, but grapefruit, lemon and lime also work. This one is all for show but the smoky notes in the air pair perfectly with whiskey – think Manhattan (or Tipperary cocktail). Just don’t forget to smoke the fruit away from alcohol.
Down at Bow St Distillery, Kieran uses chocolate garnishes in two drinks: the Chocolate Old Fashioned and you guessed it, Irish Coffee. Create chocolate shavings with a grater or dust cocoa powder on top of foam or cream for a simply irresistible aroma and flavour.
Just don’t plonk a chunk of chocolate into your drink or you’ll have a somewhat interesting texture. Dark chocolate has a bitterness that stands its ground in whiskey drinks but a little goes a long way. Try a dusting on top of the favourited Espresso Martini.
Just the word cinnamon makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. A cinnamon stick can be used as a garnish and stirrer, infusing spicy, fragrant and aromatic notes into cocktails. Let it stew in
The Handwarmer or place it on top of the Maple Old Fashioned. For enhanced flavour, pop a stick into a bottle of whiskey and leave overnight for your Hot Toddy the next day, a glass of whiskey, add a cinnamon stick and leave in the fridge overnight.
Now you’ve got creative cocktail garnish ideas, discover Jameson whiskey.