October 4, 2023

How to Garnish a Cocktail: 6 Tips From DASHA’s Bar

A cocktail at DASHA Toronto

Garnishing a cocktail is the equivalent of wrapping a present in a beautiful bow or topping a milkshake with a cherry—it’s the perfect finishing touch!

While the flavour, texture, and quality of a drink take precedence, aesthetics are essential components of mixology, too. 

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how to garnish a cocktail, then you’re in the right place. Get ready to transform your libations into Instagram-worthy masterpieces and learn the art of garnishing like a pro.

From citrus twists and fresh herbs to cinnamon sticks, let's hear it from our expert team at DASHA! 

Stunning Cocktail Garnish Ideas You Need to Try

Welcome to the party where every drink is an adventure in the making! Turn your passion for mixing drinks into extraordinary experiences with these expert cocktail garnish tips.

1. Cherry On Top

Kicking off our list of cocktail garnishes is a classic—cherries. 

We’re not talking about the ones you’d get as a kid on your Shirley Temple (although they do hold a special place in our hearts). These little stone fruits can add a charming retro edge (and a touch of sweetness) to your signature cocktails.

Elevate your Manhattan, vodka sour, or old fashioned with upscale cocktail cherries; your guests will thank you.

a bartender squeezing an orange rind into a negroni

2. Freshness is Key

Whether it’s herbs, fruit, or edible flowers, opt for the freshest ingredients. A wilted sprig of mint won’t do justice to your creation.

Fresh herbs have the power to infuse your concoction with robust aromatics, elevating the overall sensory experience. Crisp, juicy fruits impart a burst of natural sweetness or tartness, enhancing the palate. 

The best part about this cocktail garnish idea is that it’s easy to incorporate into your drink’s flavour profile, theme, or season.  

A refreshing orange slice goes best with an Aperol spritz or a citrusy Paloma in the spring or summer, and crisp Granny Smith apples go hand-in-hand with a spiked caramel margarita in the fall. With fresh ingredients, the possibilities are endless. We recommend heading over to your local market and picking up what’s in season to fuel your creativity!

3. Edible Flowers

You know when something looks too good to eat yet looks too good not to eat at the same time? That's the feeling you get when you see ethereal flowers set atop a delicious cocktail. 

In the spring, edible flowers are popular—and healthy— garnish choices. The simple method to the beauty is scattering them over drinks with creamy tops. An alternative would be to freeze the flowers into ice cubes to give the beverage a fairy-like appeal. 

Some of the most popular edible flowers include:

  • Marigolds (citrusy flavour);
  • Borage (spritzy cucumber taste);
  • Nasturtiums (sharp, peppery flavour); and
  • Bee balm (minty fresh). 

If you want to go the extra mile and create a whole flowerbed effect, pair your floral garnish with fresh herbs. This is one garden that you don't want to keep a secret.

A cocktail garnished with a flower

4. Think Outside the Glass

Cocktail garnishes don’t just belong inside the drink!

Thinking outside the glass isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s a strategic move that enhances both presentation and flavour. Rimming your glass with sugar, salt, or exotic spices introduces a delightful sensory element, transforming each sip.

Remember to moisten the glass rim with a citrus wedge or water before applying the garnish to ensure it adheres properly!

5. Food for Thought Garnish

This type of garnish is perfect in case your guests need a mini treat to snack on between sips. Here are some ways to use food as cocktail garnishes:

  • Fruit skewers
  • Candied ginger
  • Dehydrated fruit slices, like apple or pineapple
  • Cheese cubes
  • Bacon strips
  • Olive trio
  • Pickled vegetables like cocktail onions or asparagus
  • Mini desserts like a truffle or small cookie

Providing your guests with a bite-sized snack may even stimulate their appetites to order off the menu. It’s a win-win!

6. The Power of Fire

Chilly weather is the perfect excuse to decorate drinks with toasted cocktail garnishes.

Gently toasting herbs like rosemary or thyme can release aromatic oils, adding an extra layer of complexity to your drink. This subtle, smoky essence is often an overlooked cocktail garnish technique, but it’s an incredibly versatile one that will set your drinks apart.

For the adventurous mixologist, consider introducing smoked elements to your garnishes by placing a wood plank, cinnamon stick, or even a sprig of dried lavender over an open flame. For a more playful twist, toast a marshmallow for a sweet, slightly charred garnish. These elements don't just smell like fall and winter; they float in the air to transform the atmosphere into a fuzzy-leafy-sweater-weather kind of wonderland.

🔥 Safety first: While playing with fire can be fun and add flair to your mixology game, it’s crucial to exercise caution. Always work in a well-ventilated area, keep a fire extinguisher handy, and be mindful of flammable materials. The goal is to enhance, not incinerate.

 An autumn-themed cocktail garnished with a cinnamon stick, star anise, and apple wedges

Tales of Epic Cocktail Parties at DASHA

Now that you're up to speed on how to garnish cocktails to perfection, you are all set to mix dreamy drinks for your guests.

If you'd rather leave the mixing to the pros so you can focus on being the life of the party, DASHA welcomes you with open arms. Treat yourself to delicious cocktails from the East and West at our Pan-Asian paradise.

Reserve a table for your next date night or cocktail party! 

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