The art of crafting cocktails goes far beyond the mixology itself. A beautifully presented cocktail not only tantalizes the taste buds but also engages the senses on a visual and aromatic level. Whether you’re a seasoned bartender or an at-home enthusiast, enhancing the presentation of your cocktails is a surefire way to elevate the overall drinking experience.
Here we share 10 creative cocktail presentation tips that will ensure that whether you’re hosting a cocktail party or are having friends round for a BBQ, your drinks taste exceptional and look like works of art.
Fruit is a fantastic and versatile way to enhance the presentation of your cocktails. Slices, wedges, or twists of citrus, such as oranges, lemons, or limes, can add a pop of colour and a burst of freshness to your drinks. Berries and cherries provide both visual appeal and a delightful fruity aroma. For a tropical twist, consider using pineapple, kiwi, or even watermelon.
Fruit can be used as a garnish, muddled into the cocktail, or even skewered as a unique decoration for your glass as we’ve done for our maraschino cherry Manhattan. It doesn’t even have to be fresh fruit. Dried fruit can look very appealing and freeze-dried fruit powders can add a hit of flavour and colour.
Herbs are a winning addition to elegant cocktail recipes. They not only introduce enticing fragrances but also a touch of class to your cocktails. Fresh mint, basil, or sprigs of thyme can be used to garnish and infuse your drinks with a delightful herbal aroma.
They are also a great way to create variations of classics: try our Rosemary Old Fashioned if you don’t believe us! Crushing the herbs gently between your palms before adding them to the cocktail will release their essential oils, further elevating the sensory experience.
Rev up the rim
Rim garnishes add a playful touch to cocktails and add to the flavour profile of the drink. Classic examples include a salted rim for margaritas or a sugar-coated rim for sweet cocktails.
For a unique twist, consider using spices, crushed candies, or nuts to complement the beverage’s taste and visual appeal. For example, we recommend a rim of Tajin if you want to inject some contrasting chilli heat into a fruity watermelon whisky cocktail.
Give your glassware a zhuzh
The choice of glassware can greatly impact how a cocktail is perceived. Tall, slender glasses are perfect for showing off layered cocktails. While wide, low glasses are great for short and strong concoctions.
You don’t even have to serve your drinks in glass vessels. A whisky mule, for instance, is often served in a copper mug and when seeking tropical vibes, many find tiki mugs fun and bang-on theme.
Edible flowers are a delightful way to add a touch of romance and whimsy to your cocktails. Varieties like violets, pansies, or nasturtiums are not only visually stunning but also lend subtle floral notes to the drink.
Float them on the surface, freeze them into ice cubes, or create a beautiful floral garnish as we’ve done for our whisky lemon cocktail. You’re guaranteed a snap-worthy beverage you’ll want to add straight to your socials.
Cool as ice
Ice is more than just a means to chill a cocktail; it’s a visual element that can enhance the overall aesthetic. A single large cube works great in a rocks glass, but spheres, rods and custom shapes can all give your drink a refined and upscale appearance.
Speciality ice shapes can also be tailored to match the theme of your cocktail. For example, ice roses add charm to summer serves at a garden party, while skulls are a frightfully delightful addition when hosting a Halloween bash.
If you’ve got a punch bowl that guests can serve themselves from instead, consider making a decorative ice ring to add to it. Not only will it keep the drink chilled, but it’ll act as a statement centrepiece for the table too.
Leaves, such as basil, bay or pineapple can be used as a garnish or creative decoration for cocktails. They add a touch of greenery and a hint of earthiness to your presentation. These leaves can be tucked into the cocktail glass a la our Caribbean Fire spicy whisky cocktail, used to wrap garnishes, or artistically arranged on the serving tray.
Foam not only adds a creamy texture to cocktails but also provides a canvas for artistic expression. You can top your drinks with frothy foam and create intricate designs or patterns using bitters, fruit puree, or cocktail syrups.
Our scotch coffee cocktail, for instance, is topped with lightly whipped double cream, and this could be dusted with cocoa powder using a stencil if you wanted it to look just like your favourite coffee shop latte.
Serve with a snack
Pairing cocktails with complimentary snacks not only enhances the overall presentation but also elevates the tasting experience. We all know that crisps and peanuts are fan favourites but levelling up your cocktail accompaniments can make all the difference.
Think of miniature appetisers like olives, cheese, or bruschetta, that match or contrast to the flavour profiles of the cocktail. For a mango cocktail, for example, dried pineapple chunks play into the sweetness of the mango. But for difference, try pairing it with something that has some spice and heat like chilli popcorn. Presentation is key, so consider using stylish serving platters or unique containers to present the snacks alongside your drinks.
Tiny details can make a big difference. Add extra personality to your cocktails by using colourful straws, decorative stirrers, or cocktail picks. These accessories can be coordinated with the overall theme of your cocktail or used to showcase your personal style. For example, we’ve served up our matcha whisky cocktail with a gold metal straw. It works really well with the tumbler and the striking green hue of the drink. Overall, it looks incredibly contemporary while also giving off a mid-century vibe.
Hopefully, you’re now full of drink presentation ideas for your next get-together. For more inspiration on how to serve The Glenlivet, check out our library of whisky cocktails including old fashioned variations and dinner party cocktails.