Sam Horwitz's Classic Cocktail Compendium

(With photos)


Garnishes are important finishing touches for many drinks. Here I will list out my preferences and recipes for various cocktail garnishes encountered on this blog.


Olives are known for their role as a Martini garnish. For this purpose, I prefer Spanish Queen olives, stuffed with pimiento. Superstition dictates only using an odd number of olives in a Martini, so skewer one or three on a cocktail pick, and place in the glass.

Maraschino cherries

Maraschino cherries are most famous for their use in the Manhattan. When called for, they may be skewered with a cocktail pick and placed in the glass, much like olives. For a Manhattan, I personally think that one cherry is enough.

Avoid the neon red maraschino cherries you may find in a grocery store. The easiest way to have cocktail-ready maraschino cherries is to purchase Luxardo brand cherries.

Homemade maraschino cherries

You may also make your own at home, although I no longer do this myself.

  • Sour cherries in pure sugar syrup (pitted)

    (used: Marco Polo Pitted Sour Cherries)

  • Maraschino liqueur

    (used: Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur)

Strain the cherries from the syrup and place in a sanitized, hermetically sealed jar. Cover with maraschino liqueur and shake. Allow mixture to sit for at least two days before first use.

Please keep in mind best food safety practices, specifically best practices regarding preserving.

Citrus and citrus peels

Citrus is a frequent garnish. Wedges of lime are used to garnish many tropical drinks. Used lime shells garnish Mai Tais. Lemon twists and orange peels are also often used. If peels or twists are called for, express them over the drink before placing them in the glass.


Herbs, such as mint, are also frequently used as garnish. Herbal garnish should generally be fresh in addition to, or replacing, the spent ingredients.