Many drinkers view garnishes as window dressing, something exclusively meant for presentation—but any experienced bartender knows that the proper garish can add the perfect amount of additional flavor to a tasty beverage. But whether you are mixing drinks for a few friends or hosting a huge party, it is important to recognize that some garnishes only work with specific liquors. Here are some of the most popular garnishes and the liquors that they are best paired with:
Limes: Limes can be used in a variety of ways, from just the peel, a wedge, a slice, or a wheel. Some limes are perched on the edge of a drink, while others are dunked right into the beverage. Limes are best used in sweeter drinks like margaritas, whiskey sours, or mojitos, or drinks mixed with cola or fruit juices. Limes can also be used to add a punch of flavor to more subtle drinks like vodka sodas or gin and tonics.
Lemons: While lemons can often be substituted for limes and mixed with similar beverages, they are best used with darker drinks, especially those with whiskey, bourbon, or rum, and liquors mixed with colas. Of course, don’t forget the classic alcoholic lemonade if you want the lemon front and center!
Oranges: While the juicy fruit of the orange can be added to any fruity drink for an extra shot of flavor, the rind and/or peel was made famous by the Old Fashioned. No Old Fashioned is complete without that peel to add a subtle yet necessary flavor to one of the world’s most popular and classy drinks.
Cherries: Cherries are one one of the most popular garnishes, and it’s easy to see why—they add a burst to flavor to any drink and taste delicious with nearly any pairing. They often taste best in tropical drinks or bourbon or whiskey-based drinks—especially a whiskey sour or a Manhattan.
Olives: Olives are almost exclusively used in martinis, and there is a reason for that—the two tastes compliment each other perfectly, but olives clash with nearly every other type of mixed drink out there. Use olives sparingly and specifically!