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The Art of Cocktail Embellishment - The Garnish

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Hey All,

I'm hoping a few of you might give me hand with garnishes?

I've been making a few hand built mugs lately and it is occurring to me that when a proper cocktail is served, it has a garnish...Sometimes a cherry, a pineapple slice, mint, a doolie bob of some kind, stir sticks, straws? I would like to try and focus in on this fact while designing and glazing my mugs. It just seems to me that a tiki mug looks unfinished until it has a drink in it. It takes on a certain Mana for me when it's being used...

Anyway, I did a quick search in this area of TC and I can't seem to find a thread that talks to different garnishes used in different drinks. Do any of you have any images that you might care to share, or know of a thread out there that they could point me to?

Huge thanks in advance...

[ Edited by: Babalu 2008-11-13 12:35 ]


A few weeks ago Beachbum Berry joined a bunch of cocktail bloggers in a chatroom to discuss garnishes. Here is a link to the wrap-up of that chat, along with many links to pictures of some lovely garnishes.

Are you asking about what 'should' you be considering for garnish? Meaning what is the usual or typical garnish for a specific drink.....

Or are you seeking ideas for creative garnishes?

If you are looking for ideas, I am going to reverse the question back to you...... what do you think would be an appropriate garnish to pair with the mugs your creating? You can glaze the mugs and then showcase them with the garnish you selected.

And, a couple of ideas for you to get the creative mana flowing:

Search Garnish here and you should get some interesting options. Search Cocktails or Cocktail Garnish on Flickr and you will get some really wild options.


Hey Jen - Chip and Andy,

These links and images help out a ton! I feel like a new door to creativity has just exploded open for me this morning. I am now very intrigued with the "art of cocktail embellishment"

Chip and Andy: Good question...one which I hope to soon answer for myself.

My problem, and interest in this new topic started here with the "how to" glazing of this hand built Drum mug of mine below. I have been thinking about how I was going to glaze it for several weeks now...should I use multiple colors was my main question to myself? I have several wonderful matt colored glaze choices that would give this mug the older, vintage feel I was shooting for. In the end, I felt that multiple colors on this mug would distract from the sculpture. At the same time I was thinking how I really wanted to see this mug with a drink in it and garnish on it, and how that would sooo complete the desired look that I wanted.

So often I make things and I shoot a picture of it and "whoosh"...it's off to some other home...all I have left is a photo. Well, enough of that...I want to test drive my hand built goodies first. I would also like to add a photo to my portfolio of what it should look like with a drink in it before it leaves my studio.

I just glazed this Drum Mug below last night...I will fire it tonight. I think this guy is already spoken for, but I want to have a little fun with it first. If all goes well, the colors it turns out to be, after tonight's firing, will be similar to the test trees you see next to it. I will post a few pictures here of how I maneuver around the garnish issue for it....fun, fun, fun!

I did do a search on TC and have not seen a thread that talks to the creative aspect of the garnish....Am I not looking in the right place perhaps?

Thanks again for the pictures...I love the lime peel with the cherry one. Many ideas floating around in my head right now...

[ Edited by: Babalu 2008-11-13 12:34 ]



Thought I would post a few of those pics from that link you supplied...

Not all tiki of course, but one can see where one could use elements of some of these fun ideas to another level...

Babs, i too find myself shooting quick crappy pictures of my mugs. it is only recently that i have started spending a little more time shooting pics, and have starting shooting stuff with drink and garnish. These mugs should be seen in a natural setting, though i admit that most time i work up a cocktail I use a glass. To fully appreciate a cocktail i think glass is a must for the visual, but there is another magic to seeing a mug presented garnished up. I have made some fairly complex garnish in the past, mainly for drinks i felt needed the extra push, or for a grande showing, but i hope to take it up a notch soon as a few months ago i found a complete garnish kit, with book and specialty tools, at a goodwill. have not tried out the goods yet, but it seems like you can do some pretty amazing things with these tools.
hopefully this spot will be a place to post some grande garnish, both in glass and mug.

harro posted on Fri, Nov 14, 2008 6:43 AM

good thread - some amazing decorations here, real works of art. some people just have too much time!

On 2008-11-13 18:38, OceaOtica wrote:
...but there is another magic to seeing a mug presented garnished up.


Garnishing up a mug takes a bit more time to get it to truly look good, but it can be done.

And it is worth the effort because, like the man said, Garnish Matters.


Well, here are my first 2 attempts at garnish...

here is a crappy picture, but a full presentation. shot one pic real quick, never had a chance to get others. at the base of the bowl is sliced ginger, smelled great, and matched the ginger in the drink


Babalu, I love the concept of the orange peel and olives (or are those blueberries?). I think you'll have more aesthetic success if you use a vegetable peeler to get a much thinner strip of peel without all the pith. The pith adds bitterness to the drink, while just the outer part of the peel simply adds aroma and the sweeter orange oils. You'll need to go deep enough to get just a bit of the pith to help with the flexibility of the peel, otherwise it can be brittle and break. You can do the same with a knife, but it's not as easy.

[ Edited by: JenTiki 2008-11-16 14:19 ]

pith definitely will bitter a drink, good advice if were garnishing like Babs last photo, because the garnish is in contact with the drink. But for the other photos Babalu is spot on. Peel does not come in contact with the drink, and aesthetically the color break up and thickness is more appealing and gives more depth to the garnish. It also ties into his mug design better. that said there is some loose pith that could have been smoothed out or removed.
Good point though Jentiki about use of thick walled citrus peel in drinks.
Babs, what was the cocktail in the mug?

[ Edited by: OceaOtica 2008-11-16 15:03 ]


Hey Jen, thanks for the great advice...I'm still a newbie to the whole drink thing. Those are blueberries.

Cass, the drink had no booze in it...I was just trying out a look.

A few days back, I picked up quite a few garnish goodies at the World Market, plus some already on the market sir sticks which I will hack up and redo...

This whole garnish thing is cool!

Found this nice example:

Here: http://www.mojitogroup.com/presse.html

On 2008-11-16 12:18, Babalu wrote:

...This whole garnish thing is cool!

Very nice! Interesting knife work on that peel, it looks like it curls back on itself..... but it goes two directions!(?)

An idea for you (as if you don't have enough already...) it's a drum right? Why not put two straws in like drumsticks. Or a straw/skewer with a cherry tomato at the top like it is a mallet for beating the drum. Or something kind of egg-shaped to compliment the Bird-Man handle.

And Welcome to a whole new level of cocktail geekery. It wont be long now before you start adding fire to your garnishes.... a crouton or sugar cube with some Overproof liquor makes for an amazing presentation.


On YouTube, I found a couple of slide show videos featuring cocktail garnishes. On youTube search: Rumenaldo.


[ Edited by: Tiki Pop 2008-11-22 14:34 ]

Was just forwarded this link by another good cocktail friend. Glad to see this topic started! Babalu, I love your garnish with the orange peel and blueberries and must admit I'm jealous of your tiki mug.

If you guys have any questions about garnishing, ask away. I see more than a few of my pics made it into the thread here... :)

[ Edited by: kaiserpenguin 2009-01-07 20:23 ]


The Penguin speaks! :o

Welcome to the forum, sir. See you tonight with a little something floaty!

That orange garnish was cool! and i like the tiki mug, real nice.


Thank you guys. That was a cut back on both of those different orange peels used. There has been a few other mugs that I have done lately that flew away before I had the chance to play with them on this thread. Next ones up, I'll try harder to get-um over here.

Kaiser Penguin, Some of those garnishes of yours are simply stunning!...wonderful shots as well. Hope to see some more of your work posted here in the future

I brought some new funky tools over the Holiday to try out...no clue yet how they are used yet...I'll figure it out :-)

I tried and experiment tonight with fair results; I took some canned guava paste and melted it in the microwave, the put it in a Moai ice cube tray and chilled it. The Guava paste is usually a prettier pink color, I think I've had this can for a while. But now I know that guava paste can be molded and it stays gelled better at room temp than Jello would.

When you hurry through life, you just get to the end faster.
Pirate Ship Tree House

[ Edited by: MadDogMike 2014-03-10 09:42 ]

Time to resurrect this thread. If you have access, pomegranate blossoms look rather exotic and would make a nice garnish. Rich red with a yellow center and a hard, waxy shell.

Each blossom you pick means one less pomegranate but most people with a pomegranate tree have far too many fruits anyway.
For the picture, it's Mike's Hard Lemonade with a red food coloring float - don't judge me :lol:

When you hurry through life, you just get to the end faster.
Pirate Ship Tree House

[ Edited by: MadDogMike 2014-03-09 21:18 ]

Velly nice Mike. I’m gonna put one in the next “Meyers” planters punch I make. Dat red will “pop”in a yellow bev.

[ Edited by: nui 'umi 'umi 2014-03-09 21:10 ]


I was thinking of making a garnish related thread, so I agree this thread needs a resurrection!

Tonight's attempts:

I've started buying whole pineapples mainly for garnishes & tiki drinks, my tip is to buy a whole pineapple & freeze most of it.

I pull out & freeze the good leaves. I take them from the freezer & run them under cold water before putting them in the drink as a garnish - they look fresh.

I freeze sticks of fresh pineapple for later use in blended drinks like Missionarys Downfalls or Boo Loos with no ill effects (just carefully cut them up a bit more before you blend them), although, you cant skewer 'em as easy the fresh & pineapple loses its consistency if you were to thaw it back out.

Then I eat some, cook some, barbecue some, whatever - pineapples are not just for tiki drinks!

Anyone got any easy tips on how to carve citrus shapes or using flowers as a garnish?

I’ve always used fresh pineapple (readily available all year here in California) I use the “leaves” the first day but toss them after that cause they quickly look kinda shriveled up. Mahalo for the tip! Impatiens, violets, gardenias, orchids, “sticks” of sugar cane, and small roses have found there way into my wife’s drinks. Of course caution is the word when using any plant in your drink.

On 2014-03-10 21:55, nui 'umi 'umi wrote:
...Of course caution is the word when using any plant in your drink.

You got that right!!!
We have a local plant that make lots of plumeria-looking flowers in red, pink, or white. Here is one of the white flowers in strawberry nectar (no alcohol, don’t judge me :lol: ).

What I didn’t realize though, it that plant is called Oleander and it is one of the most poisonous of commonly grown garden plants! Contains the cardiac glycosides oleandrin and oleandrigenin. After a quick trip to the ER with a gastic lavage, some nasty tasting charcoal, and extensive heart monitoring, that is a mistake I will never make again!


When I was a kid my mom saw me eating the berries off the bush in the back yard. Turns out it was nightshade. A trip to the ER and some ipecac syrup and I'm still here. To this day, I wonder: who the hell grows nightshade in the back yard? :/

Yikes Mike!

Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago appears to do some cool garnishes. I haven't been there yet.


On 2014-04-01 09:00, MadDogMike wrote:

Oh dear, is that recent?

If you are alive & well... can we make jokes now? :wink:

On 2014-04-01 10:55, tikilongbeach wrote:

I am inspired by Three Dots (the bar), Im not ashamed to admit that I bit that particular garnish for my Three Dots & a Dash cocktail at home:

You've gotta do the ...- garnish anyway (its the rules), using a frozen pineapple chunk & leaves means you've always got them in... just slice a little extra orange when you are juicing it... & volia. I just need some better photography skills now...

On 2014-04-01 12:08, AdOrAdam wrote:
I just need some better photography skills now...

No, you've just about got it already.

Put a place mat or something down underneath your cocktails, something in a similar color/shade as your backdrop.

Get a second light source, one on each side generally, and you'll be totally rocking the cocktails and garnish photos!

MDM, maybe you should read this:

Amy Stewart also wrote the very good Drunken Botanist.

I mix great cocktails but I've always woefully bad at garnishes. This thread inspired me to try to better my work.

Last weekend's DTB Rum Barrel:

Navy Grog with Ice Cone:

Mai Tai:

Black Magic:

I still have a lot to learn about garnishes and I'm thankful for the help here at TC.



I'm fine - but thanks for playing along :D

I was going to say, that looked like a citrus blossom since the oleanders I have are much flatter in appearance.

If you're feeling minimalistic and want something to garnish with, there is always something like this.

Saw this online somewhere
So I thought I'd try
Worked great


Worst sound ever, slurp of an empty tiki mug through my straw!!!

[ Edited by: hang10tiki 2014-04-17 17:34 ]

Love it John! Lemon head, what are the eyes and beak made of?

Nose- carrot
Eye- tip of the lime

Next time I'll try a blueberry for the eye


On 2014-04-17 08:06, hang10tiki wrote:
Next time I'll try a blueberry for the eye


Slice of black olive also works.

You can use whole cloves and make the parrot look stoned (or dead) and call it a Potted Parrot.


Could dry ice be considered a "garnish". Seemed perfect for these Lava Flows


Not necessarily a garnish, but presentation related; For a while now I had been thinking of getting a VacuVin Pineapple Corer - I got one & put it to work:

The begining:

The end:

Easy peasy :)

I bought one of the cheapo brands on Amazon for $7 and was thrilled with how well it worked! I'm sure the VacuVin is even better. If you've never had pineapple this way give it a shot. The trick when buying the pineapple is to make sure that it has a sweet pineapple scent when you sniff it. Unripe pineapple is nasty, and it supposedly won't ripen any more once it's been picked.

[ Edited by: TikiTacky 2014-05-04 10:29 ]


The VacuVin worked like a charm - it didn't feel particularly robust but I don't think it would break easily either. They do do a metal one.

Another something I tried, flowers carved out of passionfruit shells :)

Now that's some creativity! I dig it. I bet those gave a wonderful smell while imbibing.


Making passionfruit flowers was easy (kind of like snowflakes), I used regular scissors & flattened them under a can of beans ~ I have a punch bowl I'm testing out making 'floating' garnishes for.

Cheers TikiTacky :)

I don't know why, but before I read what they were I thought those were from mangosteens.

While these aren't exactly the specialty garnishes normally posted here, it was suggested that I upload the garnish for my Big Moai Mai Tai:

Juice of three limes
Juice of one lemon
3 oz Creole Shrub
3 oz Orgeat
1 cup Appleton V/X
1 cup Rhum JM VSOP

Shake with 3 pounds crushed ice and pour. Garnish with Bird of Paradise, leaf attached, Sprig of Jasmine, and a really long straw.

That's freekin huge


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