They are used to compliment and enhance the flavors in a drink by stimulating the special nerve cells in the nose and mouth
A large variety of cocktail garnishes are used. Many rum-based cocktails, especially those with fruit flavors, tend to be decorated with tropical-themed garnishes or slices of fruit. Tequila-based drinks favor limes and other citrus fruits. Gin- and vodka-based drinks tend toward garnishes with a more dignified flair (olives, onions, or possibly a citrus twist or a single maraschino cherry), unless they are variations of a fruity rum-based drink. Whiskey- and brandy-based drinks tend toward minimal garnishment, if any. Restaurant chains and hotel bars tend to use larger and more ostentatious garnishes, and neighborhood bars tend to go the other extreme.
Common edible garnishes
- Carrot sticks
- Celery stalks (usually with leaves attached)
- Cinnamon, grated
- Cocktail olives (often stuffed with pimentos)
- Cocktail onions
- Lemon slice, twist, or wedge
- Lime slice, twist, or wedge
- Mint sprigs or leaves
- Nutmeg, grated
- Orange slice, twist, or wedge
- Pineapple slice or wedge
- Salt, coarse (applied to the rim of glasses)
- Sugar, granulated or powdered
- Watermelon wedge
Common inedible garnishes
These garnishes are purely for decoration or dramatic flare.
- Plastic animals (attached to the rim of the glass)
- Bead necklaces (especially common during Mardi Gras and Carnival)
- Cocktail umbrellas
- Drinking straws (colorful or unusually shaped)
- Fire (see Flaming beverage)
- Plastic swords
- Swizzle sticks
- Dale DeGroff (2010). The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes. Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. ISBN 9780307762276. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
- Navarro, V., LA Speakeasy, 02/27/2018
- Shawn Soole & Nate Caudle (2013). Cocktail Culture: Recipes & Techniques from Behind the Bar. TouchWood Editions. pp. 23–26. ISBN 9781927129944. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
- Tulula, Philippe (2016-02-25). The Cocktail Garnish Manual: The Complete Guide to Cocktail Garnishes, from Simple to Extraordinary. World Cocktails Publishing. ISBN 9780692507001.
- Rex Bookstore, Inc. (2007). Learning & Living in the 21st Century Iv for H.s.' 2007 Ed. Rex Bookstore, Inc. pp. 333–335. ISBN 9789712347870. Retrieved 29 March 2016.