girls can relate to garnishes. They are the
accessories of a cocktail like jewelry and a handbag are
to an outfit. That extra special finishing touch will make
a girl--of all ages—giddy inside. Don’t believe
me? Next time you give them a drink watch where their eyes
go first. Garnishes can be made of fruit, vegetables, spices,
or anything thing else edible to embellish, compliment,
or enhance a drink. Decorations are normally non-edible
items such as paper parasols, frilly cocktail picks, sparklers,
novelty straws, etc.
are so many different types of bars, however if you laid all
their garnishes and decorations side by side, you would be
able to tell what type of bar they were. High-end bars will
always have the freshest and largest selection with extra
attention spent on upscale pics, straws, and other non-edibles
and low-end bars will only have the top basic four garnishes.
All the others fall in-between. Keep in mind that I speak
for bars in America and also know some bars will vary because
you will have more tropical garnishes in Florida then you
would in Montana for example.
The Top 4 Bar Garnishes
Lime, lemon, cherry, and olive
Without a doubt, this garnish is at the top of the heap. It’s
automatically used for a Gin & Tonic, Vodka Tonic, Rum &
Tonic, Cape Codder, Seabreeze, Margarita, soda water, Perrier,
and Cubre Libre. It can also be used for a Bloody Mary, shot of
tequila, and muddled for a Mojito or Caipirinha. Limes, like most
citrus fruits, are native to South Asia. With time they made their
way around the world. The British Navy used the juice for scurvy.
The lime wedge is by far the preferred and
most professional way to cut a lime. Lime wheels are usually used
for aesthetic reasons and meant to stay on the rim. You’ll
find them in high-end bars. Limes quarters are supposed to be
for muddling, but some bars tend to use this as their normal cut
for some reason. I don’t know why, because you can get the
same number of pieces from this cut and a lime wedge cut. The
most unprofessional way to cut a lime doesn’t even have
a name, but can be found in the lowest of the low-end bars. It’s
a stupid, unsanitary, messy, cheap cut that barely yields any
Cut the lime lengthwise. You don’t have to cut the ends
off first! To me, when you cut the ends off it makes it look
like one of those dogs that get their tails cut off. When
you don’t cut the ends, it allows the wedge to be held
and squeezed without getting the meat all over you or your
guest’s fingers, plus it just looks prettier because
you kept the natural curve of the lime intact. Okay, so after
cutting it into two pieces, hold one of the halves meat side
towards you, cut a slit across the inside of the lime. This
will create slits in your wedges so that you can slip one
on the rim of a glass. Repeat with the other half. Now lay
the two pieces flat and never cut the pieces the other way
because you want a stable situation while having a knife in
your hand. You will be making three cuts to get four wedges.
There’s a couple of ways to do this. You can cut the
halve directly in half then cut each of those pieces in half
or go straight in at an angle making three cuts. With practice
you’ll be doing the latter. Makes eight pieces.
way to stick a wedge on the rim of a glass is to omit the
slit cut and simply separate the rind from the meat about
1/2 inch then place it straight up on the rim vertically.
This is a very nice presentation.
Some bars like to get six pieces from their wedges, but if
you sell Corona as well then you need the eight slimmer wedges
so that the limes can be multi-purpose.
Cut a little more than just the ends off and then cut a slit
lengthwise. Now cut the wheels. Depending on the size of the
lime, you should get 3-4 wheels.
Cut a lime widthwise. Lay the halves flat then cross cut.
Makes eight pieces. These are the cuts usually used for Mojitos
and limes you muddle.
Stupid Lime Cut
Cut the ends off of a lime then cut
lengthwise, cut those pieces lengthwise then make many thin
cuts widthwise. Makes about twenty stupid pieces.You'll find
this cut in cheap bars and I see it a lot in country bars.
bars have their own policies. Some will want you
to place the lime on the rim of the glass for sanitary reasons.
After all, when you think about it, bartender’s hands are
pretty nasty. You are touching so many things; money, dirty glasses,
dirty bar towels, dirty hands when shaking, and ashtrays. If you
set the fruit on the rim allowing the guest to decide if they
want the lime squeezed, simply lay an extra cocktail napkin down
for them. If you’re allowed to squeeze the fruit then cup
your other hand around the drink to no one get squirted.
win for the most cuts. It’s automatically
used for a Long Island Iced Tea, Long Beach Tea, Texas Tea, Chocolate
Cake shot, Lynchburg Lemonade, and tomato juice. It can also be
requested for a tequila shot, iced water, Vodka Soda, Scotch &
Water, Scotch & Soda and anything else that the guests wants.
Lemons in history were only affordable for the wealthy and were
often given as royal gifts. Asian lemon-shaped earrings were worn
in 2500 B.C.
The ways to cut a lemon is wedges, wheels, quarters, zests, twists,
and spirals. Cut the wedges, wheels and quarters like the limes
Lemon zests are oval shaped slices of lemon rind and are
used to flame. You hold a match in one hand and a zest in
the other. Over the cocktail you squeeze the zest releasing
the oils and this causes the flame of the match to flare
up. Simply cut oval rind chunks from the rind. This is what
Dale DeGroff is using on the cover os his book, The
Craft of the Cocktail.
(Peel Off Twists)
There are a few ways to cut lemon twists. The most common
is to make peel-off twists. Simply take a lemon (try to pick
the longest one) and make incisions through the skin stopping
at the meat all the way around the lemon. Now, some bartenders
cut off both ends and then cut the incisions, but this just
makes a juicy mess all over your hands. The size of the twists
is up to you, but don’t make them too thin. After you’ve
made the incisions then cut off one end. At this point the
twist can be pulled off when needed. Some bartenders cut both
ends off, but, that just makes a shorter twist and besides,
it’s not necessary because the twist will rip right
Another way to make twists is to remove the meat of the lemon
from the skin of the lemon then roll up the skin and cut in
pieces (like cinnamon rolls). It makes long curly twists.
There are a few ways to get the whole skin off the lemon.
One is to cut the ends off then make an incision half way
through the lemon lengthwise. Using your fingers you can start
to separate the rind from the meat. Another way is to omit
the half way incision and use a spoon. You just stick it between
the skin and the meat and run it around the lemon until it
separates. You then can make one widthwise cut on the skin,
roll, then cut into curly strips. Another way is to soak a
couple lemons in hot water while cutting your other fruit.
The heat loosens the skin from the meat, so when you remove
the skin it slips off easily.
To get long curly fancy spirals all you need is channel knife/zester.
To make zest for flaming just take the lemon and begin to
slice one inch ovals right off the skin with a sharp knife.
You should know that there is a lemon
garnish known as a horse’s neck. It’s a whole
thick lemon peel cut in a spiral and inserted in a tall glass
taking up the whole glass. Ice is added after placing it in
Yes, maraschino cherries come
from real cherries. They are named after the marasca
cherry, which are used to make cherry liqueurs. The three basic
steps taken to turn fresh-harvested cherry into a maraschino cherry
are; soak, rinse, and bottle. The cherries soak in a solution
of brine, sodium metabisulfite, calcium chloride, and citric acid.
The sodium metabisulfite transforms into sodium dioxide, the calcium
keeps the cherry firm, and the citric acid balances the pH of
the solution. It’s similar to the same process of brining
cucumbers into pickles. During this process the cherry loses it’s
color. Next the cherries are sorted by size and pitted with a
star shaped needle. The cherries are then rinsed and packed into
jars with corn syrup, water, flavored syrup (usually almond),
preservatives, and red food color #40. You’ll also see some
upscale bars with green maraschino cherries that are peppermint
Drinks that get an automatic cherry are;
Manhattan, Amaretto Sour, Whiskey Sour, Tom Collins, and Shirley
Temple. Other drinks that might get a cherry are Piña Colada,
Sour Apple-tini, tropical and exotic drinks, and whipped cream
On whipped cream drinks, some bartenders
like to add a cherry on top by diving the stem into the whip.
It’s pretty, but ends up a little messy for the guest. When
serving children, some bartenders will stick the cherry stem about
1/4 inch into the straw and let it dangle. They seem to like it.
And of course if you have your knife handy, then you can make
a slice and set it on the rim.
You can also use a cherry in place of a spoon to layer a shot.
what we know, the olive tree was grown on the island
of crete in 3500 B.C. and is the oldest tree in continuous cultivation.
Olive branches were a symbol of peace for the Greeks. Olives are
used in the classic Martini and sometimes Bloody Mary’s.
Some high-end bars stuff them with blue cheese, anchovies, and
almonds. For a classic Martini one un-speared olive or two speared
olives through the side of the olive is proper. Just so you know,
the pimento is a pickled pepper.
Cocktail onions are pickled pearl onions. They are small white
mild flavored onions. Few bars stock cocktail onions because
they are only used to make a Gibson (classic Martini with
onions instead of olives). High end bars will stock them.
For the Gibson, one un-speared cocktail onion or two speared
cocktail onions is proper.
Note: Know that if a guest asks for more olives and onions
that they should always get what they request.
some reason oranges remained an Asian treat for a long time because
they didn’t make it to Europe until the 1200’s. Today
California produces the most eating oranges and Florida producers
the most juicing oranges.
Oranges can be found in most medium-end
to high-end bars. The most popular use for them as a garnish is
to make flags. A flag is a cherry speared on an orange slice with
a cocktail pick. The original flag was made to resemble a flag
on a pole by bowing up half an orange slice and running a pick
through (in between you insert a cherry as you piece it together).
Today a flag just means a cherry speared orange. The cherry can
be speared from the side or on top. You’ll find flags garnishing
a Tom Collins, Whiskey Sour, Amaretto Sour, and some tropical
drinks. You’ll also find an orange slice muddled with sugar
and bitters to make an Old Fashioned.
There are a couple of ways to cut oranges.
To me the typical half wheel orange is too much of a garnish.
I like to cut them one more time to have a quarter orange. Afterall,
we’re just enhancing the drink, not feeding the guest.
half and quarter wheels
are a couple of ways to cut oranges. To me the typical half
wheel orange is too much of a garnish. I like to cut them
one more time to have a quarter orange. Afterall, we’re
just enhancing the drink, not feeding the guest.
The pineapple got its name from Columbus in
1493 when he thought it looked like a pinecone. In 1901 a man
named James Dole moved to Hawaii and started the Hawaiian Pineapple
Company. As for pineapples in bars, well you really only find
it in sunny locations. It’s considered very exotic and is
somewhat expensive. The most famous cocktail it garnishes is the
like the orange, I think that you don’t need such
a large slice, so I like to cut them in quartered sizes
too. Make a pineapple flag by spearing a cherry on it.
worked the bulk of my bartending career in the Caribbean and
in Florida, I’ve had the luscious experience of using
pineapple as a garnish. When pressed for time I simply pic
a cherry on top, but when I have an extra five to ten minutes,
I will peel off the pineapple leaves, wash them then cut them
where they are about two inches in length. Next you can simply
spear them with a cherry and then spear the side of a pineapple
slice (near the rind) with the leaf point side up. Or the
fancy version is to cut a slit into the rind part of a slice
and stick two leaves into the slit so they are standing on
top the rind point side up.
is used in a Bloody Mary. There are quite a few ways to present
them. As a bunch, you cut off the bottom end them rinse all
the stalks because they will still have soil on them. I like
to cut the end off at an angle so they have interesting pointed
ends (like the way you cut flowers). Now, some people hack
off the tops, but I think that it looks nice to keep on the
leaves. One whole stalk is really too much, so slice the stalk
lengthwise to make two pieces from one. You can skewer many
items to the celery stalk like a scallion, olive, cherry tomato,
peppers, peel-n-eat-shrimp, etc.
once worked at a bar where our Bloody Mary garnishes were a celery
stalk, scallion (green onion, and a cherry tomato. We cut the
top of the scallion lengthwise (the green part) a few times to
make lots of green strips and set them in water packed with ice.
Within 10 minutes the strips curled making very attractive scallions.
We then skewered a cherry tomato to the scallion then both of
those onto the celery stalk. It was pretty.
are a high-ticket item especially when they aren’t in season,
but usually high-end warm climate tourist bars will stock them.
They can be used to garnish a Strawberry Daiquiri, glass of Champagne,
Mimosa, or muddled to make a Strawberry Mojito. As a rimmed garnish,
no cutting is necessary, just stick on.
You will find bananas tropical in locations. They are used to
make Banana Daiquiris. Lots of bartenders will cut off the 1/4
top of the banana (skin and meat), make a slit in the bottom then
set it on the rim of the glass. The rest of the banana is used
to make the drink.
spig of mint means about 3 leaves. Mint leaves are used for Mint
Juleps and Mojitos.
Kiwi, star fruit (I love this one!), sugar, pepper, kosher salt,
coconut flakes, chocolate syrup, chocolate shaving, cocoa powder,
chili powder, raw horseradish, scallions, cherry tomato, cocktail
shrimp, pickled okra, pickled green beans, pickled asparagus,
peppers, nutmeg, whipped cream, cookies, rock candy swizzle sticks,
and coffee beans.
Modern mixologists have created cocktails using, grapes, blueberries,
raspberries, blackberries, rose petals, flowers, basil, sugared
ginger, cucumber, cinnamon sticks, edible pearl dust, and oysters
on the half shell.
If you shake a clear drink with the edible pearl dust it will
give it a beautiful shimmering luster. There’s also vodka
from Canada called Pearl, so you could design a cocktail with
a pearl theme and maybe add a rim of edible gold flake. Just look
on the Internet for the edible pearl dust and gold flake.
are some nontoxic flowers that you can use as a garnish: Angelica,
anise hyssop, apple blossoms, arugula blossoms, banana blossoms,
basil blossoms, bee balm blossoms, borage, marigolds, carnations,
chrysanthemum, chamomile, citrus blossoms, dandelion, elderberry,
fuchsia, hibiscus, honeysuckle, hyacinth, jasmine, lavender, sage
blossoms, roses, petunia, primrose, and sunflower petals.
Some toxic flowers include: Daffodil, lily, sunflower, azalea,
mistletoe, morning glory, periwinkle, wisteria, wild cherry blossoms,
narcissus, poinsettia, peony, and rhododendron African violet,
and baby’s breath.
Drink rims can be rimmed with; sugar of all types and colors,
salt of all types, cocoa powder, hot chocolate powder, shaved
chocolate, coconut flakes, Pop Rocks, sprinkles, edible gold flake,
Cajun spices, crushed Oreo cookies, crushed graham crackers, and
anything your imagination can conjure up.
I know you’ve seen Chocolate Martinis rimmed with cocoa
powder, but I like to use hot chocolate powder because the cocoa
powder is very bitter. They look the same, so why not?
Decorations are unlimited as well. For private holiday parties
I always buy bags of holiday bows, candy canes, etc. and decorate
drinks. If you go to www.orientaltrading.com
it will inspire you with lots of fun party ideas to decorate your
are put into a fruit tray. It’s ideal for a bartender
to set the fruit tray behind the bar so guests aren’t
constantly sticking in their nasty fingers thinking that it’s
a free buffet (a bartender pet peeve).
Some bartenders put ice underneath the containers of the tray
to keep fruit cool. When the fruit tray is on the bar top try
to keep the olives near you because they’re the #1 thing
most guests zoom in on. I’m a freak at having my fruit tray
stocked and ready to go. People look at it with a mesmerizing
stare and mutter, it’s so pretty! Basically, all I do is
prep everything because I’m a prep freak bartender (hey,
I just want to make as many drinks as I can without slowing down,
because the more drinks I make the more money I make). I spear
the olives and set then upright in olive juice, cherries are placed
in with all the stems up ready to grab, my orange and pineapple
flags are ready to go and my limes overflow blending into the
lemons. All the fruit is piled high because I always have expectations
of a big busy night.
When cutting fruit at the bar, it will help to set up an assembly-line-type
system that works for you.
Cutting boards that are used to cut meat should never be used
to cut garnishes.
You will always need more limes than lemons in your fruit tray.
Some bars may require you to wear a cut resistant glove with a
rubber glove. Just a rubber glove on one hand is nice too because
it keeps your fingers from being stained from the cherries and
keeps the burning citrus off.
In a commercial setting you can’t wash citrus before cutting
because farmer’s spray wax on to keep them bright and pretty
The wax will begin to flake and look really bad. You can rinse
them though, but, I will tell you that not one bar has ever required
me to do so. You can wash organic citrus. Try to practice good
sanitary habits when cutting garnishes by washing your hands before
starting. Don’t wipe your nose or any part of your body
then resume cutting. C’mon this is common sense stuff.
In most bars, you’ll have to cut back up fruit in case you
Try to pre-assemble or prep any garnishes so that it does not
slow you down throughout your shift.
Know that like anything else, garnishes and decorations are limitless
to your imagination, so try to present them a new way by spearing
them differently, setting them on the glass differently, or anything
else your pretty little head comes up with.
when working for a Doubletree Hotel I took one of their famous
cookies and made a drink based on the ingredients on the cookie
package and called it a Frozen Cookie. (Doubletree is known for
giving warm cookies to their guests upon checking arrival.) I
garnished it by setting one of the cookies horizontal on the top
of the glass, squirt some whipped cream on top and stuck a straw
through the whipped cream and the cookie straight into the drink.
It was a big hit. Well, at least until the chef wanted to know
why they were going through so many cookies all of a sudden so
I was ordered to stop. That’s a great example of working
for a corporation. All they had to do was look at it as a money-making
opportunity, but ya can’t tell the big boys that because
they want to be the ones coming up with all the ideas, don’t
Tonics (Gin & Tonic, Vodka Tonic, Rum & Tonic, etc.),
Cape Codder, Seabreeze, Margarita, soda water, Perrier, Corona,
and Cubre Libre. It can also be used for a Bloody Mary, shot of
tequila, and muddled for a Mojito or Caipirinha.
Teas (Long Island Iced Tea, Long Beach Tea, Texas Tea, etc.),
Chocolate Cake shot, Lemonades (Lynchburg Lemonade, Electric Lemonade,
etc.), and tomato juice. It can also be requested for a tequila
shot, iced water, Vodka Soda, Scotch & Water, Scotch &
Soda and anything else that the guests wants in whatever form
they want, but it's usually a wedge or twist. You might also hear
a requested twist for classic Martini.
When a guest orders, let's say, a soda water with a twist,
99.9 times out of 10 they mean a lime wedge. It's just something
our culture has picked up from the movies. But when they
order a twist with a Vodka Soda, Scotch & Water, Scotch &
Soda, etc. they mean lemon twist.
some establishments will use a lime or a lemon for their Cosmos.
You just have to garnish accordingly.
& Cherries: In most cases these
two go together as a flag. Orange flags are used for Sours (Tom
Collins, Whiskey Sour, Amaretto Sour, etc.), and some tropical
drinks. You’ll also find an orange slice muddled with sugar
and bitters to make an Old Fashioned.
If an establishment doesn't use oranges for garnishes, then
a cherry is used at the very minimum.
a Tequila Sunrise, Madras, Screwdriver, and other orange juice
based drinks don't get a garnish. However, if you work somewhere
where they don't mind, why not add one? It's a girl thing.
Classic Martini and sometimes a Bloody Mary.
(Pearl) Onion: Gibson and sometimes a Bloody Mary.
if you made it this far down the page then you deserve a free
gift. Click or right click on the pages to download the fruit
cutting artwork for a closer view.