Garnishing a cocktail can be as simple as a slice of citrus or as elaborate as … well pretty much anything you can imagine. Depending on your situation, how much time you have, your dexterity with a knife and (perhaps most importantly) your patience, the world is your oyster! You can really let your imagination run wild.

Today, we’re keeping it a bit simpler – focusing on the lowly cocktail pick and ideas for using picks in making your garnish just a bit more interesting.

Quick Suggestion:

By the way: if you’re looking for reusable cocktail picks, may I humbly recommend the ones we sell on Amazon?

We worked hard to find high quality, sharp, durable cocktail picks – I think you’ll really like them!

Leafy Greens

Too often a mint garnish is relegated to the simple sprig – but using creating a cylinder of lime peel gave us a proverbial “vase” to hold the stems and make a leafy bouquet to top this cocktail. Take another look at the underside to see how it’s done.

This one extra step does take a few minutes but it creates an entirely different presentation of the lowly Mint sprig – and adds the bright aroma of citrus oil as well.

The Infinite Loop

Just one small step above the skewered brandied cherry this simple garnish adds loads of visual appeal without too much time.

In this case, we used a split lemon wheel to wind around two brandied cherries on the cocktail pick – but it could be done with a thick piece of lemon peel as well. Like the mint above, this garnish also adds the bright aroma of citrus oil to the top of your drink.

Citrus Rainbow

Like the “infinite loop” above, this one is also just a fancified version of the skewered brandied cherry.

In this case, Chris has carefully peeled and stripped two pieces of citrus peel – one of lemon and another of lime. Placing them back to back on the cocktail pick creates the illusion of a two-sided citrus peel and adds quite a bit of color to the top of this drink.

Now that’s just Ridiculous.

When I asked Chris to show us some “fun” ideas for garnishes using Cocktail Picks, I should have known he’d see how far he could take it. This last one is both awesome, ridiculous and, well, a fire hazard. (What more could you ask for?)

He started with melon-balled apples covered in a cinnamon-sugar mixture and speared on the cocktail pick. But (of course) that’s not nearly interesting enough. So he floated an inverted (juiced) lemon peel in the cocktail, filled it with a barspoon of Everclear (but you could use any overproof spirit) and lit it on fire.

Yes. He’s roasting his garnish from a flaming, floating boat. (I warned you it was ridiculous.)


That said, the brulee’d cinnamon-sugar apples were delicious and you can’t argue that the visual presentation is pretty incredible!

Admittedly we did have a bit of trouble getting this photo – it was tricky to get the reflection out. But I think it came out pretty great, considering we had to act fast! (And that reflection? That’s our bar / living room and Chris’ hand. Now you know!


Looking to “up” your Garnish Game?

I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book. It’s written by an A Bar Above reader, and we picked up a copy when it first came out. You will not find a more comprehensive book of cocktail garnishes, and I reference it often behind my bar for inspiration and ideas.

Take a look around Facebook as well – I’ve found a few Groups for bartenders and pro’s to show off their best garnishes and get tips / techniques for learning more. Don’t underestimate Facebook as a resource for learning – especially within our industry!

Show us your Pics of your Picks!

Got pictures of your own cocktail pick garnishes? Share the love in the comments below – I’d love to see what you’ve come up with!

Julia Tunstall

Julia Tunstall is the co-founder of A Bar Above and Chief Cocktail Taster. She's in charge of keeping things running smoothly around here, but you'll also find her stopping by on the Mixology Talk Podcast or hanging around the Craft Cocktail Club.