Creative the perfect cocktail garnish has always been one of the most challenging parts of cocktail creation for me. I’m sure I’m not the only bartender that has this problem!

Imagine and Create:

Here are a few outside-the-box things that have really helped me to become more creative when trying to perfect the art of the cocktail garnish.

1. Glassware

Upgrading your glassware is one of the most missed opportunities for increasing the presentation factor of a cocktail. You don’t need to spend $15 on each piece of glass behind your bar; even an occasional trip to the thrift store can add a lot of unique glasses to your bar program.


12. bitters being dropped in a perfect cocktail over crushed ice by adam Jaime via unsplash

Photo by Adam Jaime via


2. Ice

Ice is extremely important when it comes to cocktails as 20-30% of the volume in your drink is from the dilution in your ice. Kold Draft and a few other manufacturers of dense cubed ice can add a lot to the presentation of a drink, but if you have a freezer and some patience, there are a lot of great ways to use ice as a garnish in drinks.


Putting reusable straws into cocktails

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3. Straws

Add a straw for a little bling– Pick up a pack of A Bar Above straws in our shop, or you could even create different kinds of straws on your own. I’ve made one that was actually made from a vanilla bean!

4. Gradient of the Alcohol

Understanding the density of the ingredients that you work with can give you the opportunity to create a dramatic separation in your drink. A Pousse-cafe is a great example of this, as is a Dark and Stormy.


7. RECIPE 2 complex cocktail Mai Tais with traditional garnish of lime slice and garnish with mint, each with a classic rum float

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5. Get Creative and Reinforce the Flavors in the Drink

Have fun and get creative with the cocktail elements by playing off existing flavor profiles with fresh cocktail garnishes. Look for creative options on how to present them: Grilling/roasting citrus is a fun way to add a smoky note to your garnish in a mezcal cocktail, for example.

You can even use a cookie cutter to create an image out of a plain citrus peel or use herbs and spices to accentuate flavors that may be present in the spirits you’re using.


citrus twist from channel knife

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6. Decorative Citrus Twists

One of the easiest ways to garnish beautifully is to use a channel knife to create long citrus garnishes that you can tie into bows, fold into flowers, or manipulate into other attractive garnishes.

The A Bar Above channel knife is your essential tool for achieving these citrus curls! The ergonomic design and non-slip handle make it easy to achieve thicker peels while still leaving behind the white pith– you don’t want that in your beautiful cocktails!

You can even use the stainless steel blade to carve a design into citrus wedges or elegant peels.

You can also use our new citrus peeler to make beautiful but basic cocktail garnishes like an orange twist or lemon twist from fruit skins. It’s great for citrus fruits but can also be used as a vegetable peeler.

The cool thing about these kitchen gadgets is that you don’t have to have the best knife skills to create the perfect twist, and you don’t have to worry about sharp blades– even beginners can achieve the perfect peel with these bar tools!


cocktail picks for a variety of drinks with Martini olives in a crystal glass with a heavy base

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7. Cocktail Picks

From cocktail onions to citrus peel garnishes to cocktail cherries, using an elegant cocktail pick helps elevate your cocktail game. Even using common cocktail garnishes like a piece of citrus peel can look amazing when you add a little bling with this perfect tool for garnishing.


Handcrafted cocktail in a crystal cocktail glass with a stencil design that was sprayed with affordable bitters bottles or atomizer spray bottles accessory tools cocktail gift sets

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8. Atomizer Set

Spraying a gorgeous, stenciled picture or creating a lovely yet simple design with bitters is another unique way to add unique & creative brightness to your cocktails.

Garnishes can often be an afterthought when designing a drink, but arguably it is one of the most important steps in creating a memorable cocktail. Nothing sells a cocktail better than how it looks!

So, fellow cocktail lover, what are your ways to create cocktail garnishes, bartender style? Share them to us in the comments below!

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.