Olives, Oranges and Lemons – How To Choose One For Your Drink

Garnish for Drinks

Making the perfect cocktail is an art, and every ingredient you add is significant. When you’re so careful about what’s added in, you need to make sure that your garnish complements your drink perfectly. Why ruin all your hard work with the wrong garnish? Here’s how to choose the right garnish, and where they work best.

Why your choice is important

You may think your garnish is just for visual effect, but in fact it needs to complement the flavor of your cocktail. After all, wouldn’t a Pina Colada taste odd if you garnished it with olives? When choosing your garnish, you need to think about what flavors are already in your cocktail, and choose accordingly.


Olives aren’t used very often in cocktails, but when they are they add a certain classy touch. They usually go well with straight gin or vodka martinis. Avoid using them with fruitier concoctions, as the contrast is quite jarring.


Oranges can be used in three different ways in a cocktail:

  • Wedges: These are perched on the rim of the glass, and can be squeezed and dropped in when the drink is served. They’re usually used in fresh tasting citrus drinks, such as Margaritas and Bloody Marys.
  • Twist: This is a floating garnish that’s dropped into the cocktail. They’re made by slicing the skin away from the orange, as that’s where the essential oils are found. They’re used in Cosmopolitans and Poinsettias.
  • Slices and wheels: These garnishes are edible, and often accompany drinks like Pimms’ Cups and Ramos Gin Fizzes.


Lemons work in a very similar way to oranges, and can be served sliced in the same ways. They’re usually used in darker drinks, such as whiskey sours or an old fashioned. However, they do work in clear drinks too, such as martinis. They add a lot to cola based drinks, iced teas, and lemonade too.

What else can you garnish with?

There’s all kinds of fruits and other edible garnishes you can use. They include:

  • Cherries
  • Cocktail onions
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Salt, along the rim of the glass
  • Mint sprigs or leaves

Cocktail garnish tools

Of course, if you want to create cocktail garnishes, you’re going to need the right tools to create them. Firstly, you’ll need a sharp paring knife for creating those citrus twists. You’ll also need tools like a double edged peeler, a citrus zester, or a corer. What you’ll need in your kit will depend on what cocktails you make often and what garnishes you like to use. Experiment and see what you’ll need.

This guide has given you the basics of how to create the best garnishes for your cocktails. Now you know how to pair a garnish with a drink, you can start experimenting and creating new garnishes for your favorite drinks. Try these out, and let us know if you create anything new or have any favorites amongst them.

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