Upgrade Your Cocktail Garnish Ideas for Maximum Business Impact

Most business owners don’t consider the true impact of the humble cocktail garnish on their bottom line. The result is money left on the table — and we don’t mean in the form of generous tips.

Here’s why: Cocktail garnish is like a business card, it’s a simple and inexpensive way to turn a good customer experience into an exceptional one. Garnish can support branding and highlight core values you want to convey. And by showcasing your attention to detail, it says a lot about the level of service and quality you provide. Those are all factors that affect how much you can charge and your perceived value in the eyes of your audience.

The best part? Even if you go all out and super fancy, the relative costs still remain low and profit margins are kept high (average profit margins on cocktails are nearly 80%).

Whatever business you’re in — restaurant, bar, hotel, even luxury brands or event marketers — the right cocktail drink designs and garnish ideas can do a lot to boost customer experience. Choosing the right ones involves a bit more than just looking at trends, but considering the amount of heavy lifting garnish can do to wow your customers, it’s worth the effort.

Factors to consider before looking at cocktail garnish ideas

Like seasonal appetizers and plating, cocktail garnishes follow rising and falling trends. Before delving into what’s popular, be sure to think about your specific business needs and audience.

Convenience: This factor is a no-brainer and is the one that businesses usually prioritize. The last thing you want is to tie up your bar staff with complicated cocktail garnish ideas that are difficult to execute. Customers won’t appreciate fancy drink toppers if they slow down service. Unfortunately, convenience is likely to be prioritized at the expense of the many upsides of serving awesome garnish, and since a little can go a very long way, this shouldn’t be the only factor driving your decision.

Novelty: People often drink to socialize, so it’s a good idea to serve cocktail garnishes that can double as conversation starters. Choose innovative ingredients that appeal to multiple senses by emphasizing a mix of colors, textures, and flavors. Or create garnishes that compliment noteworthy themes. It doesn’t matter if you’re promoting happy hour or a fundraiser, garnish can play up your themes.

Quality: You don’t need to reinvent the wheel on every drink. Classic cocktail garnishes are impactful if you go out of your way to source high quality ingredients that are local, fresh, and seasonal. Make a point of highlighting them on your menu.

A closer look at cocktail garnish trends in 2023

This list focuses exclusively on edible garnishes, which score extra points for sustainability.

Make a statement with fresh herbs:

True, this trend has been around for a long while, but it’s also rich in options for versatility and flavor enhancement, so don’t expect it to fall out of favor any time soon. While herbs are used to make cocktails in all forms for things like infusing botanicals, or distilling syrups, the most common ways to add fresh herbs to your cocktails are muddling them into mixed drinks and serving as garnishes.

Cocktail garnished with fresh Thyme

Sprigs of thyme or rosemary make a beautiful, hardy garnish and pair well with a wide range of spirits, from vodka to gin to bourbon. Lavender can be floated, sprinkled, or fully immersed for a pop of color. Hints of mint made with specialty varieties such as chocolate or even pineapple add unexpected flavor. The list is endless, as are the opportunities to impress your audience.

Garnish 3.0

In the 1980s, you may have wanted to go to a bar where everybody knew your name, but in 2023, you want a bar where they can print your name (or even a picture of your dog!) right on top of your favorite cocktail. Ripples bev-top media takes cocktail garnish to a whole other level. One that turns drink foam into a canvas for printing personalized designs at scale, all in just 10 seconds per drink.

Printed wedding cocktail from The Last Word

You can use it to print literally anything, from high-res images, to fun doodles,  seasonal greetings,  local promotions, and special offers. Customers can even submit their own designs and photos using the Ripples Web App, which lets you add branded drink frames to every print and ensures you get exposure when customers share photos of their drinks on social media. Our friends at The Last Word designed this gorgeous topper for a wedding celebration

Upgrade your Rims

Why stop at salted margaritas? Unexpected rims are like a party at the top of your glass: exciting, intriguing, and fun. In addition to using water to moisten and adhere your dip of choice, experiment with other liquids such as juice, syrup, cider or beer.

Cocktail with a chocolate dipped rim

The same goes for your choice of solids. Whether crushed or granulated, candies and spices can be paired with the right liquid to create interesting flavor profiles and add depth to your drinks. We love this unique take on a grasshopper with a chocolate-dipped rim.

Final thoughts on cocktail garnish ideas

Hopefully the ideas presented here have opened your imagination to the many possibilities and worthwhile opportunities that cocktail garnishes can offer your business.  Use them in novel ways to set yourself apart from the competition and engage your audience. It’s sure to leave a good taste in their mouth.