For home parties garnishing cocktails is a must. Garnishes not only dress up your bar by adding color, but they also transform boring cocktails into masterpieces.
As a host, you are going to have enough to worry about, so do yourself a favor and set up a home bar area that is easy for your guests to serve themselves. Serve the first one and let them know it is okay for them to help themselves whenever they need a refill.
Obviously for small parties you can handle cocktail refills yourself, but if you host the kind of parties we do, trust me, you will not be able to keep up with the demand.
Garnishing cocktails is easy if you have everything at your fingertips when you need it. Creating a tray like you see in this photo will help tremendously and make your life so much easier. You do not want to be cutting fruit and digging around in jars!
You never know what people are going to drink so I almost always offer these garnishing choices:
Depending on what I am serving, I sometimes include these garnishing choices:
For big parties,I have a rectangular, decorative tray that I use for my garnishes. You can see it in the photo above. I put maraschino cherries and sometimes a couple different kinds of olives and mint leaves in bowls in the middle of the tray.
Then I surround the bowls with fruit like sliced pineapple, lemons, oranges, limes and apples. Just before serving, cut the apples and dunk them in a mixture of lemon juice and water to keep them from browning.
I have some small cocktail forks that I put on the tray to make it easy for my guests to pick up the garnishes. I also set out stirrers and paper umbrellas for an extra special touch. Who doesn't like an umbrella in their cocktail?
If you have the room for them, you can also buy some pretty cool garnish containers like you see at bars. You know, the ones with several compartments and a lid? I have priced them though and they are pretty expensive so I just use what I have around the house.
When I first started garnishing cocktails at home, I had no idea how to rim a glass. I had seen bartenders use a lemon or lime wedge to wet the rim and then dip the glass in the salt or sugar so that is what I started doing at home.
I also set out a small plate with some water in it and sometimes use that to dip the glass. The beauty of using pre-made sugars and salts like the ones you see in this photo is that most glasses fit easily into the container making it a breeze to rim a glass.
If you are using your own salt, sugar or the colored sugars you get in the baking aisle, just pour them onto a small plate and you will be ready.
I absolutely love rimming a glass with either salt or sugar. The only cocktail that I make that gets salt is a Golden Margarita although I also use either seasoned salt, celery salt or the kind you see in the photo for Bloody Marys.
Sugars? Well, just about every foo-fee cocktail I make gets some kind of rimming sugar. They come in every color of the rainbow and what you can't buy you can make just by mixing sugar with food coloring.
It doesn't matter what kind of drink your guests are having, garnishing cocktails make plain old drinks into something spectacular. You might also like our page on Theme Party Cocktails. Find some great cocktail recipes here.