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How to garnish your cocktails

Looking for ways to add a little wow-factor to your next martini or manhattan? Get creative with cocktail sticks and precise with citrus peel to make these fabulous finishing touches for your weekend tipple.

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  1. Herbs

    Woody herbs add aromatic flavour and make a great addition to gin and tonics and whisky sours. You can use them as stirrers for an elegant finish, too. Or try freezing soft herbs and fruit into ice cubes to add colour. Mint-studded ice cubes would add a sweet note to this refreshing lemongrass mojito recipe.

  2. Olives and pickles

    For those with a more savoury palate, olives, silver skin onions and gherkins make great garnishes. Olives soak up flavour; they’re a classic with martinis but also add tang, so work well in this spiced sangria. Gherkins and silver skin onions give a Blood Mary a more savoury edge. For added sourness, try adding an olive garnish to a Dirty Manhattan – the heady concoction of whisky with dry vermouth and Angostora bitters is not for the faint hearted!

    Olives and pickles
  3. Citrus

    If you want to keep it easy, light and refreshing, use zesty lemon, lime and orange slices. For a fruity twist, thinly slice a piece of citrus fruit and fold in half. Skewer one end with the cocktail stick, skewer your berry of choice and secure by threading through the opposite end of the citrus slice. The finished garnish makes an excellent addition to a floral white port and tonic.

    If you’re mixing cocktails for a loved one, try your hand at a cupid’s heart. Pare off a strip of citrus peel, then trim and neaten the edges before splitting down the middle for three-quarters of its length. Arch the ends towards each other; secure all the way through with a cocktail stick and garnish this pretty-in-pink Red Grapefruit Sgroppino before serving. 

    Or keep it simple with a classic twist. Pare citrus peel and slice into thin strips before wrapping around a clean pencil, then squeeze to shape. Slice off the end and add to a cocktail of your choice.

  4. Cucumber

    Great for martinis, gin and tonics or anything light and refreshing, cucumbers are easy to model into a desired shape. Try making cucumber flowers by using the handle end of a teaspoon to remove strips of skin from the cucumber all the way around, before slicing into rounds. Or, using a rosemary sprig or cocktail stick, thread a ribbon of cucumber in a zigzag pattern to add wow-factor without any faff to an elegant sparkling gin cocktail.

    A cucumber ribbon is even easier. Use a speed peeler to create delicate ribbons to wrap around the inside of your cocktail glass. Add the eye-catching garnish to pitchers, like this apple and cucumber gin cocktail, or jazz up refreshing fizzes with a twirl. We love a few ribbons in this gin and elderflower one.

    For a boozy summer treat, wrap cucumber ribbons around ice lolly moulds to make gin and tonic ices.