Why garnish a cocktail?

World Best Bar

Apr 25, 2018

garnish a cocktail
From garish mini umbrellas, zingy wedges of lime, sweet maraschino cherries to simple savoury olives: cocktail garnishes come in all sorts of guises, adding an extra visual and/or tasty element to your alcoholic drink.

Where did all these fancy flourishes begin?

Like many historical facts about cocktails, the origin of the garnish remains cloudy, since not much was written down to confirm any official dates. Some say that the cocktail garnish might have come about from the Julep or the Cobbler – two old school tipples, both traditionally served with a straw (the Julep garnished with mint, the Cobbler with a wedge of pineapple or orange).


Why did bartenders decide to add the extra fluff?

Well, this extra ingredient brings many elements to the drink. Sometimes a playful touch – such as a plastic monkey or a tiny sword – is just the thing to add some extra sparkle to your holiday Piña Colada. Other additions, like a sprig of mint, or a subtle drop of truffle oil can also bring a powerful fragrant dimension to your drink. Modern garnishes include a spritz of fragrance – like elderflower, for a subtle floral element. Then, in some cases, the garnish adds to the taste of the cocktail, such as the pickled onion in a Gibson, which adds an umami edge.

Garnishes have come a long way from the simple orange wedge, and in some cases they take the spotlight away from the cocktail itself. Today you can expect anything from a huge candy floss cloud, to a leaning tower of burgers wobbling on top of your Bloody Mary.

As well as taste, looks and smell, the garnish is often what defines the drink, setting it apart from the cocktail crowd. After all, what’s a Martini without the olive, or a Mojito without the mint? (We’ve experienced the latter and can confirm that it’s just not the same!)

So, whether it’s a subtle slither of orange peel, or all the bells and whistles, the cocktail world just wouldn’t be the same without a good ol’ garnish!

Related bars


Previous article

Unusual bar of the week: Black Rock, the ultimate whisky joint

Next article

Tracks on the Rocks #10 - On the Blues Highway

Tracks on the Rocks #10 - On the Blues Highway