14 Unique Cocktail Garnishes From Bars Around The US

Cocktails are more than just a refreshing and delicious beverage; they're a complete sensory experience, from the taste and texture to the presentation. In fact, as a bartender in your home, garnishes are a great way to take your concoctions from good to memorable. They can also offer an exciting spin on an average night with drinks and friends. For example, offering a DIY garnish platter provides an interactive way to elevate simple beverages. However, while we love a green olive for garnish in our martini, we also love a twist on the classics.

Bartenders worldwide are taking cocktail toppers and presentations to a whole new level, resulting in a feast for the eyes and the palate. From billowing smoke to ant salt rims and everything in between, striking garnishes and styles transform the humble mixed drink into a work of art. Ordering these beverages is more than just an opportunity to taste a delicious cocktail; it is sippable artistry.

Billowing smoke emerging from a tiki head draws you in

The tiki head used to house the E Ho'o Pau Mai Tai at Bar Leather Apron is a fascinating and beautiful part of its presentation. It doubles as a stage for the drink and a work of art. The item has intricate details that help make this stunning piece something you won't soon forget. In addition, its carvings add an exotic touch to the cocktail.

However, what sets this drink apart is the billowing kiawe wood smoke escaping from the tiki head's intricate openings. It adds an extra layer of intrigue to the beverage before you even lift it from its base, making it a true showstopper. Like any special garnish, revealing your cocktail from smokey artwork like this is an experience in itself. The E Ho'o Pau Mai Tai symbolizes the tropical paradise you can enjoy on the island of Oahu; every detail is carefully crafted to create a memorable sip.

Black ant salt offers a fascinating rim garnish

La Cava del Tequila, a hot spot in Epcot's World Showcase in Walt Disney World, is well known for its delicious selection of tequilas and creative cocktails. Though there are many to choose from, three stand out for one reason. The Wild One, Piña Loca, and Dragones Top Shelf specialty drinks all offer individual flavor profiles, but you'll probably remember them best for their distinctive salt rims made with real black ants.

It's an intriguing twist on the traditional salt rim, typically paired with margaritas and other tequila-based beverages. It offers a tangy, slightly sour flavor and is a delicious addition to the already impressive collection of La Cava's drinks. So whether you're sipping on The Wild One, Piña Loca, or Dragones Top Shelf, the blank ant salt rim adds a memorable and distinctive touch that will leave you wanting more. And with seasonal cocktails featuring the garnish rotating throughout the year, there's always something new to try with this unique addition.

Smoked herbs awaken your taste buds

Bigfire's Rosemary Salty Dog cocktail at the Universal CityWalk in Florida is a refreshing and distinctive beverage that blends Wheatley vodka and grapefruit juice. Visually stunning, it also offers a delicious mix of flavors. To finish the cocktail, the rim of the glass is coated with smoked salt, which adds a savory flavor to the drink. Then, right before serving, the rosemary is lit aflame, creating a dramatic visual effect and infusing the beverage with the fragrance of smoky, herbal notes. As a result, you'll get a distinctly earthy flavor and aroma in the first few sips. The rosemary is not just a garnish in this cocktail but an integral ingredient that adds depth and complexity to the taste.

The Rosemary Salty Dog is a perfectly balanced drink with a pleasant tartness, and its herbal addition will also make you believe in smoked herbs' power in cocktails.

Chicken takes Bloody Marys to the next level

Sobelman's Bloody Beast cocktail is an eye-catching, over-the-top beverage with arguably ridiculous garnishes. This monstrous drink can be found in the pub's locations in Milwaukee and Waukesha, Wisconsin. Its garnishes are not for the faint of heart; it features an array of ingredients, including veggies, sausages, cheeses, cheeseburger sliders, bacon-wrapped cheese balls, and even a whole chicken.

A wide variety of Bloody Mary variations is featured on Sobelman's menu, but this one is undoubtedly the most impressive. Served atop the cocktail, the garnishes make up a true feast for the eyes and the taste buds. Large and striking, they sit high above the rim of the glass. At a price tag of $60, this Bloody Mary is all you'll need to order since it's a whole meal and drink.

Every part of this assortment offers exceptional flavor and texture: The pickled Polish sausage provides tang, while the Colby-jack cheese adds a creamy and rich texture. The shrimp is plump and juicy, and the lemon adds a bright and citrusy note. The chicken, however, is the real star of the show. This fried bird is the most indulgent element of the menu item, making Sobelman's home to one of the most iconic garnishes in the cocktail world.

Sprinkles create a festive feel

Sprinkles are a fun way to add a touch of whimsy to any cocktail, and the Sugar Cookie Martiniat Towne Tavern & Tap is a perfect example of this sweet garnish in action. Here, you'll enjoy a drink that isn't just playful; it's also sure to get you into the seasonal festivities with the brightness and fun texture the sprinkles add to the beverage.

As for the base cocktail, the combination of vanilla vodka, chocolate liqueur, Irish cream, and butterscotch liqueur creates a rich and indulgent flavor profile that pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the sprinkle garnish. The martini is a delightful drink that Towne Tavern & Tap patrons enjoy ordering throughout the year, and it's not hard to see why. With its creamy texture and deliciously sugary flavor reminiscent of biting into a freshly baked treat, this beverage will surely be an ideal choice for anyone with a sweet tooth. Plus, the sprinkles can change for different holidays, so it's always in season. At Towne Tavern & Tap, you may even spot some other fun rim garnishes: The Candy Cane Martini, for example, gets a nice helping of candy cane bits around the rim.

Dry ice makes any cocktail mysterious

The Purple Mist at Kaizen is an exquisite drink that marries various flavors and aromas to create a breathtaking experience. This cocktail combines Japanese gin, crème de violet, lavender, cherry tomato, citrus, and mint to establish an intriguing blend of balanced sweet and savory flavors. But its beautiful and elaborate presentation really sets it apart. The beverage comes in a lovely glass on top of a tray adorned with gorgeous flowers, creating a sense of elegance and sophistication. Before the magic begins, it already feels special.

As your bartender pours water onto the tray, the dry ice is activated, creating a magical mist that envelops the glass, spills over the platter, and rushes onto the bar. It adds a touch of drama to the presentation. The lavender taste of this drink is prominent, adding to the sensory experience and making the cocktail even more captivating.

Bubbles bring pops of childlike whimsy

A charming concoction called the Eden is available at Allegory, a speakeasy inside Eaton. The drink combines Tanqueray 10 gin with oranges, piloncillo, and benzoin. Clarified and carbonated, it offers a playful take on the classic Ramos Gin Fizz. The cocktail is a delicious blend of sweet and tangy flavors. Reclaimed mandarin oranges give this beverage a bright, citrusy flavor, while the piloncillo provides a balancing sweetness to the gin. Additionally, the benzoin adds a subtle and aromatic note.

However, the bubbles within the drink are the standout feature of Eden. They add a layer of texture, creating a playful and whimsical experience that will delight anyone who tries it. Moreover, the component makes the cocktail feel light and refreshing, almost like an orange creamsicle or Italian soda. Bubbles also play a starring role in this beverage as a unique garnish, which adds a whimsical touch to the fizzy concoction.

Cards offer a sense of intrigue

Bowen Houseoffers an exciting cocktail known as the Smokin' Hot Italian, which boasts a blend of bold and flavorful ingredients. The drink features a combination of high-quality spirits, including Novo Fogo Silver Cachaça and Verde Mezcal Amarás, resulting in a complex and delicious base. Fresh rosemary and lemon juice are added to enhance the beverage's flavor profile, contributing to a bright and herbaceous taste.

What sets this cocktail apart is its dramatic presentation. The drink has a burning card clipped to the glass, creating a smoky aroma and visual flair. The flaming garnish makes the drink striking to the eye but serves a practical purpose too. As it burns, it releases fragrant smoke that infuses the cocktail with a subtle hint of it. As a result, the beverage's flavor is enhanced, with additional layers of complexity and depth. Furthermore, the aroma can stimulate the senses and create a more immersive drinking experience.

Cereal adds a tasty treat

Incorporating a surprising garnish of cocoa-puffed cereal, the Weekend at Vinnie's cocktail from Bar Margot is a playful drink. The beverage combines bourbon, cognac, chicory, and milk to create a rich and complex flavor profile. At the same time, the chocolate puffs add a subtle sweetness and crunchy texture that balances out the boldness of the alcohol.

While using cereal as a garnish is not a new concept, Bar Margot's take on it is exceptionally creative, adding a visual element to the drink and complementing the cocoa notes in the concoction. The addition also reflects the restaurant's approach to cocktails, which is focused on playful flavors that create a sense of nostalgia and fun, making the drinking experience more memorable. Plus, as the cereal soaks up some of the liquid, it becomes softer and adds a delightful chewiness to each sip. This unique characteristic makes the beverage even more enjoyable. 

Outdoor scenery makes garnishing a drink an art form

Rokc, located in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, is known for its expertly crafted cocktails and impressive presentations. In addition to serving drinks in traditional glasses, the bar uses outdoor scenes as garnishes to add an extra level of visual interest to their beverages.

Aside from the special presentation, Rokc is known for its attention to detail and precise cocktail-making techniques. In addition, bartending master Shige Kabashima brings a sense of humor and warmth to the bar, making it a fabulous spot for locals and visitors.

Overall, Rokc's use of outdoor scenes as garnishes adds an element of whimsy and playfulness to their cocktails while maintaining a high quality and craftsmanship level. They vary in the settings presented, but even if the miniature set on a particular drink doesn't interest you, the bar has plenty of other beverages with equally exciting garnishes. All told, the creativity here is unmatched.

Toy sharks invite drama

If you're looking for a cocktail that will make a splash in New Orleans, the Shark Attack drink from Tropical Isle is a must-try. It is delicious and comes with a fun and special presentation that's guaranteed to make your night out on Bourbon Street unforgettable.

The centerpiece of the beverage is the toy shark that comes with it. This cute and colorful item is put in the cup as if it's diving in. When the drink is served, the bartenders at Tropical Isle make plenty of sounds to signal that a "shark attack" is underway. As the mayhem ensures, the toy releases a burst of "blood" into the drink, creating a dramatic, entertaining, and Instagram-worthy effect.

But the presentation is not the only reason the Shark Attack is so popular. The cocktail is a refreshing and fruity mix made with vodka, soda water, sour mix, and a splash of grenadine. It's the perfect beverage to cool down on a hot New Orleans day, and its tropical flavors will transport you to a beachside paradise.

Movie snacks offer nostalgia

The Movie Night Float is a memorable cocktail served at Canon that combines classic flavors with unexpected twists. This mixed drink has bourbon, root beer, popcorn ice cream, fernet, bitters, and a red vine straw. The garnishes add an extra layer of flavor and texture to the beverage.

The Red Vine, a popular movie snack, is a fun and whimsical add-on that pays homage to classic treats. It also adds a sweet and fruity flavor to the cocktail as you sip it. Additionally, the candy brings a pop of color to the drink, making it visually appealing and adding to the overall experience of the beverage.

Another distinctive element of the Movie Night Float is the popcorn ice cream. This creamy, cold dessert is made with real popcorn, giving it a savory and salty flavor that pairs with the sweet and spicy flavors of the bourbon and root beer. Carefully added on top of the drink, the ice cream creates a frothy and creamy layer that enhances the texture and mouthfeel of the base. The red vine straw and popcorn ice cream garnishes create a playful and nostalgic vibe that perfectly complements the cocktail's flavors.

Bathtubs offer a luxurious presentation

The Champagne Bubble Bath at Gatsby's is a cool-looking drink that will certainly be memorable because of its unique garnish and presentation. The cocktail will arrive on a silver platter in a miniature porcelain bathtub decorated with rose petals and decadent chocolate. The metal straw that comes with the beverage doubles as a spoon, which can be used to scoop the mojito bubbles off the top of the drink. These bubbles add a fun and playful element, making the cocktail even more enjoyable to sip on. It's whimsical and playful, reminiscent of a luxurious spa experience or even the childhood bath of your dreams.

The base is a delicious combination of gin, Aperol, strawberry rose syrup, muddled blood orange, and champagne. With carefully balanced flavors to create a refreshing and complex cocktail, we love this one for the perfect sip on a hot summer day.

Unique dispensers make drinks with friends fun

The Dillinger Escape Plan from The Merchant is a refreshing cocktail perfect for sharing with friends. The drink is made with gin, Ketel One cucumber vodka, lemon, dill, and cucumber, creating a balanced herbaceous and citrusy flavor profile.

But what ultimately sets this beverage apart is the dispenser it comes with. The cocktail is served in a glass cone, and with the turn of a knob, it pours from the bottom of the vessel, creating a bewitching and entertaining way to enjoy your mixed drink. The dispenser adds a playful and interactive element to the experience, making it even more memorable.

The Merchant is a hidden-away speakeasy bar, adding to the allure and excitement of enjoying a cocktail like the Dillinger Escape Plan. It is tucked away from the city's bustling streets, creating a cozy and intimate atmosphere perfect for enjoying a drink with others.