Edible flowers, fresh fruit, and briny olives can turn a good spring drink into a sophisticated cocktail. Stock up on these garnishes and serve up some seriously delicious beverages all season long.
Spring is the best time of year to try out edible flowers in your favorite drinks. Pick a cocktail that’s light and floral like a white wine sangria or a refreshing vodka drink. Avoid edible flowers that have pesticides, and make sure they are, in fact, labeled as edible. If you want an easy grab-and-go garnish option, simply freeze the flowers into ice cubes and place into a glass of chilled wine or add to your cocktail of choice.
Olives are commonly used in Martinis and Bloody Marys, but there are a lot of recipes you can make with a quality jar of these savory fruits. An Aperol Spritz with olives is just as delicious as the same drink with orange slices, and is commonly referred to as a Venetian Spritz. Hungover? Throw a handful in your morning-after light beer for the Midwest specialty, a South Dakota Martini.
With the first sprouts of spring comes the inspiration for cocktails with fresh, green garnishes. Buy organic herbs, rinse well, and pat dry before using. Chopped basil leaves, sprigs of rosemary and thyme, and fresh mint leaves do wonders for garden party cocktails, and also look great in jars at a build-your-own cocktail station. To extract as much flavor as possible, muddle herbs with big leaves (like mint and basil) at the bottom of a glass before adding the spirit and mixer.
Your bar cart deserves a bowl of fresh citrus. During the weekly grocery run, snag limes, lemons, oranges, and a grapefruit (if a Paloma is your go-to springtime drink). Once you cut a wedge, wheel, or peel of citrus, wrap the remaining fruit in air-tight plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you need it again. Toss in the trash when the fruit loses its firmness, looks old, grows mold, or is soft to the touch.
FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
Fresh fruits and veggies don’t just belong on your plate — add berries and fresh farmers market finds to your cocktails too! Skewer pieces of fruit to add punch-like flavor or dice and mix with the liquor in a cocktail dispenser. Vegetables also make excellent garnishes, and not just for savory drinks. Sliced cucumber rings are perfect for plain and simple vodka sodas, or add a stick of celery for a hefty garnish that adds a crunch.
DEHYDRATED CITRUS WHEELS
Maybe you don’t drink cocktails or buy fresh fruit often, but there’s still an easy way to have a good-looking garnish at the ready. Dehydrated citrus wheels are the best way to add a pop of color and texture to any drink. Plus, they are convenient (no knife required) and fit the modern-dessert aesthetic if that’s what you’re going for. Dress up an Aperol Spritz, Margarita, or Vodka Lemonade with this pantry-staple.
COCKTAIL CHERRIESYou might be tempted to toss cherries into the “winter” garnish category, but bourbon drinks are an excellent nightcap all year round (bonfire, anyone?). For Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, and Whiskey Sours, a cherry adds just enough of that rich, sweet flavor and compliments darker spirits and tart drinks perfectly. Splurge on the good ones and you’ll never go back.
Erin Hooker is a writer with experience creating wine, food, and interior design content. She began contributing to Graham + Fisk’s blog in 2021.