Learn with A Bar Above

Fruit Garnishes

Photo by Dinner Series/ CC BY

Citrus Garnishes

Citrus is one of the most commonly used elements in garnishes – which is no surprise since it’s such a frequent ingredient in drinks as well. In general, citrus garnishes will come in one of three forms:


Wedges are a great way to give guests some say in the final acidity of the cocktail. A wedge on the side of a glass is like a suggestion – “If you’d like your drink more acidic, feel free to add this!” Wedges are common garnishes on gin & tonics, vodka sodas, etc.

If your drink shouldn’t have citrus juice added or if you don’t want your customer to have the ability to add citrus juice, I’d recommend garnishing the drink with citrus in a different way.


There will be other scenarios where you don’t really want to give your guest the option to adjust acidity. I’d put Lemon Drops and Gimlets in this category. In these scenarios, when I want to garnish with citrus I’ll cut it into a wheel instead of a wedge. This still gives color and interest to the drink but isn’t inviting the guest to add more acid.

I typically use wheels for cocktails that already have quite a bit of acid already.


When creating spirit-focused drinks like Manhattans or an Old Fashioned, you absolutely do not want your customer adding citrus juice, but the aroma of citrus oil can add depth and flavor to the drink. In these scenarios I will garnish with zest.

Expressing Oils:

When using citrus as a garnish, I almost always take the time to express the oils from the citrus ingredient across the top of the drink, and on the rim of the glass. If the drink is made with lime juice and garnished with lime, expressing lime oil across the top will mean a bright, fresh lime aroma will meet my guest just moments before their first sip – adding a sense of freshness and depth. Similarly with lemon, orange or grapefruit.

Photo by Dinner Series / CC BY

Other Fruit Garnishes

Garnishes are a great way to illustrate a cocktails ingredients to your guests. When making seasonal fruit cocktails, I’ll usually try to incorporate that fruit into the cocktail’s garnish as a way to remind the guest what’s in the drink and emphasize the fact that our ingredients are fresh.

Brandied Cherries:

Brandied cherries are a fairly common fruit garnish for spirited drinks like Manhattans. I’d consider a brandied cherry in cocktails with Maraschino Liqueur, Sweet Vermouth, or any drink calling for cherry flavored alcohol. Again, this is a great way to illustrate the contents of the cocktail to the guest in a creative (and delicious) way.

Get creative!

Fruit garnishes are incredibly varied and some lend themselves well to creative interpretation. Be willing to get creative! I have seen bartenders cut zest into interesting patterns and shapes. Trying brandying other fruit instead of cherries and using them as garnish. Consider freezing fresh fruit into the ice cubes you use while serving.

Have some fun with your garnishes, they can really add to the visual appeal of your drinks.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]