Flowers have something naturally beautiful and alluring to them -they never fail to draw all eyes and impress. A few well-chosen blossoms or micro herbs turn a visually unexciting drink into something truly exceptional. Or you go all the way with the flower garnish for your cocktails and create a real piece of art.
However, as with every other cocktail ingredient, it is vital that you use edible flowers. Not all flowers are palatable and qualify as floral garnishes.
Read on to find out how you can use flowers as a garnish, which ones are a good choice, and what cocktails are a good match for floral garnish.
Why use edible flowers as cocktail garnish?
Some find it a little too playful. I think edible flowers are fantastic. They offer so many different options and possibilities.
But besides improving your drink's visual appearance, they can bring in more complexity. Edible flowers can add color, texture, and spice. Plus, some are quite fragrant. From very sweet and floral to spicy and savory, it's all there.
So it is not just about the pretty looks. It also can improve the drinking experience. -Keep that in mind when deciding on edible flowers for drinks.
Ways to use flowers as cocktail garnish
I said it before: there are endless possibilities to use edible flowers as a garnish for your cocktail. You can use them in fresh, dried, or also candied form.
The easiest way
The most obvious and straightforward option is to let a blossom or two float on your drink or put some beside the cocktail glass.
Dried flowers as garnish
Another way is to use small, dried flowers or petals and sprinkle them on top of your drink. That is mainly suitable for cocktails with egg white foam -or the vegan alternative, aquafaba.
Since the consistency of the foamy top is relatively firm and stable, you can create patterns on top of the foam. For this, you need tweezers, as it is very delicate work. Alternatively, you can also let them sit on large ice cubes.
On a cocktail pick
Then there's also the option to combine different flowers or fruit and flowers using a cocktail pick.
Flowers with slightly bigger blossoms and berries will work especially well together on a cocktail pick.
For some flowers, you can also consider letting them soak in liquid, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, before using them. Hibiscus is a good choice here.
Rim your glass
If you don't want the flowers to end up in your cocktail, apply them to the rim of your glass.
Dried tiny edible petals are light enough to stick to a glass's rim like sugar does. -Or salt when you make a Margarita.
All you need is a wedge of lemon or lime that you can use to moisten the edge of your glass.
Flower petals on the cocktail glass
Or you can go completely crazy and apply a piece of art to the outside of your glass. I will explain below how you can do that.
Depending on if you do it for a photo or for serving it to someone, keep in mind how people will hold the glass. Otherwise, the garnish can become a challenge for the person supposed to drink the cocktail.
Overview on edible flowers that make a good cocktail garnish
You can basically use any flower for your cocktail as long as it is edible. -That mainly means not tonic.
Please don't use a flower to garnish your drink you can not identify with certainty, and keep potential plant allergies in mind. To help you choose, here are our favorites:
Apple or Cherry Blossoms
Often medium-sized flowers with white or pale rose-colored petals with a sweet and slightly bitter taste.
You can also use blossoms of other fruit. However, not all might be edible. So always check this first.
Aster as floral cocktail garnish
Asters have small to medium sizes blossoms with thin, delicate petals. They are usually pale violet, but you can also find them in rose, pink, and sometimes yellow.
Butterfly pea or Asian Pigeonwings
This little blue flower is actually famous for its color-changing capacity when used as a syrup, for example.
However, it also looks cute as a garnish and has an earthy, subtly sweet flavor.
Bee Balm or Oswego Tea
This one is quite remarkable. The blossoms are red or violet, have a unique shape, and spicy scent and taste. If you never smelled one of these, you will be surprised.
Carnation as cocktail garnish
Carnations are my favorite flowers for table decor but are also suitable to garnish drinks. They come in various colors and also in different sizes.
You can use them either in whole or individual petals for your garnish. I prefer to leave them in one piece, though.
The allrounder among the flowers. It sometimes seems there's only little left that chamomile can't do.
With its white, slim petals and bright yellow pistils, chamomile blossoms make a very cute garnish on your drink.
Cornflower as cocktail garnish
A beautiful and bright blue-colored flower with jagged petals. Cornflowers have a mild, somewhat endive-like aroma.
These beautiful, tiny, white flowers have a sweet taste and a pleasant scent.
Elderflower turned into syrup, juice, or liqueur is popular in cocktails, as well. So it's the perfect addition to drinks that already contain elderflower elements.
Forget me not
Also known as scorpion grasses, these tiny, little flowers are either pale rose, light blue, or white.
Their smell is spicy, though hardly noticeable, and the flavor is somewhat neutral. So, Forget me not is pretty much compatible with all sorts of drinks.
Hibiscus as flower garnish
Like carnations, hibiscus flowers come in a whole variety of colors. But the Roselle, a type of hibiscus, looks spectacular when you let it soak in a liquid for a while.
You can read more about this below. Also, you can make gorgeous, intensely floral homemade hibiscus syrup with them.
Lavender has long and uniquely shaped purple blossoms with a very distinct fragrance.
Some people confuse Lavender with Hyacinth, so be careful here because the latter is toxic.
Marigold is usually also easy to get in dried form. It is a beautiful flower with distinctive yellow to orange petals.
Also, Marigold has a pleasant smell. Their flavor, however, is bitter. Some find it even a bit salty.
Roses as floral cocktail garnish
Roses are a classic choice if you plan to use individual, silky petals to garnish your cocktail.
Many roses and rose petals have the typical floral aroma, whereas others are neutral. The taste of roses is more on the sweet side.
The Wild Carrot is a relative of our regular carrot and has tiny white blossoms.
It's also known under the name "Queen Anne's lace", which is definitely more elegant, and does the pretty flower more justice.
Yarrow as flower garnish
The individual blossoms of Yarrow are arranged similarly to the wild carrot. However, the shape of the petals is different, and Yarrow comes in more colors.
Yarrow is quite aromatic, with a scent reminiscent of nutmeg. The flavor is comparable to that of chamomile.
I limited this list to 15 flowers, but I could go on forever. There are many, many more.
Most of the above are readily available in the fields around where we live, so it's a good idea to go and check what you can find in your area. -And, naturally, in your garden or that of a friendly neighbor.
How to make edible candied flowers?
To upgrade the flavor of your floral garnish, you can also turn them into a pretty candy.
All you need to make these sugared flowers or petals are a thin paintbrush, one egg white, a half cup of ultrafine sugar, a teaspoon of water, and of course, the edible flowers or petals.
The amount should be good for 30 to 90 pieces, depending on the size of your flowers.
Coat the flowers
Add egg white, sugar, and water into a bowl and whisk it with a fork until the first few bubbles appear. The texture should not be all foamy, so don't overdo it with the whisking.
Now, use the brush and carefully paint the back and front of your flowers, petals, or leaves with the mixture, one at a time.
Then sprinkle the back and front of your floral garnish with a thin, even layer of superfine sugar and place it on a wire rack to dry. If there are clumps, gently brush them off.
Let the candid flowers dry
Make sure you arrange the petals on the rack in a nice shape. Once they are dried, you cannot change that anymore.
Now repeat this process with all your flowers. Once done, put the rack with your beauties in a dry and cool place and let them sit until the sugar coating is crisp.
That will take a day or two. If you are in a hurry, they should be okay to use after five hours, but it's not ideal.
Note: When you use candied flowers to garnish your cocktail, handle them with care. You put quite some time into doing this, and they will always be relatively fragile.
How to make soaked flowers? And which ones to use?
That one is just as straightforward as it sounds. I find it super rare to get results that look that great with so little work. In fact, it is no effort at all.
You only need a sugary -or sugary-boozy liquid of your choice and a suitable flower. One, in particular, is perfect for this: hibiscus. I never use anything else for this because these are so perfect.
Pour some spirit, e.g., Rum, into a container, add the hibiscus blossoms, and then let it sit for 30 minutes up to a few hours.
You will get a beautiful, boozy garnish, plus a red-colored, hibiscus-flavored Rum, that you can use in your drinks, as well. Win-win.
How to apply floral garnish to the outside of a glass?
As simple as soaking flowers is, as complex and fiddly is this type of floral garnish.
First, you need edible glue and a brush to apply the flowers to the rim or outside of your cocktail glass. Then, tweezers come in handy to arrange the flowers.
Only use a thin layer of glue when working with small flowers, petals, and micro herbs.
If you want to look for some inspiration, Veermasterberlin truly mastered the art of floral garnishes, as you can see in the photo above.
He has more of his beautiful artwork on his social media. Also, he makes his own DIY organic glue. If you're interested, he reveals the ingredients from time to time in his insta stories.
What to consider when using flowers as a garnish?
There are only a few things to keep in mind:
- As mentioned before, stick to edible flowers.
- Ensure the floral garnish you use is not sprayed or was in contact with chemicals in any other way if you intend to serve and/or drink the cocktail at one point.
- Remember that dried flowers are brittle and can fall apart. -You don't want small flower crumbs spoiling your drink.
- Fresh flowers won't look good forever. So get them only shortly before you intend to use them.
Tools that come in handy
- For basic floral garnish, you do not need any tools.
- For candied flowers, a small, soft, and food-safe brush will be helpful when applying egg white to the petals or blossoms.
- A kitchen rack or non-sticking baking paper is also recommendable for letting the flowers dry.
- If you want to attach floral garnish to your glass - or arrange them in a certain way on top of an egg-white foam, you need tweezers, edible glue, and a silicone brush.
Where to get flowers to garnish a cocktail?
If you have a backyard, fields, or woods in your surrounding area where wildflowers grow, that is the place to go.
If you don't have this opportunity or feel confident in telling the different flowers apart, buy them in stores or online.
For fresh flowers, it's best to check out a store that isn't too far away from where you live. Otherwise, there is a chance that they arrive looking a little sad and limp - even if the seller says something different.
Specialized Botanical Stores like Gourmet Sweet Botanicals in California are generally recommendable. Sometimes, you might be lucky and get some with Amazon, but they are not always available.
Dried flowers are more convenient to purchase online as they have a longer shelf life.
Do floral garnishes work with all cocktails?
Generally, that is a loud and clear yes. For the purpose of photography, there are no limits anyway.
Also, if you don't plan to put the flower into your drink, there are no objections whatsoever. Placing a blossom beside a cocktail glass can never go wrong.
It's a bit different if you consider using your garnish on top of your drinks or spiked on a pick. In that case, it makes sense to pick a flower with a fragrance and aroma that work with your cocktail.
Dried flowers are a good idea only on top of a cocktail with egg white foam -or the vegan alternative aquafaba, since that keeps them floating on top of the drink.
Other ways to use flowers in cocktails
Pairing your flower garnish with cocktail ingredients with floral aromas can lead to magnificent results. So here are other ways to incorporate flowers into your drinks.
For instance, you can use them to make floral syrup. More aromatic specimens like lavender, roses, or elderflowers are especially suitable here.
Also, butterfly pea syrup is a favorite due to its color-changing abilities. You boil them down with water and sugar, and you can add extra spices and herbs to your taste.
Stored in an airtight container in your fridge, flower syrups can last for weeks.
Flower-infused a spirit
Another option is to use them for infusing spirits. White Rum, Vodka, or Tequila are recommendable here, as they are not very aromatic and are high-proof. That helps a lot with absorbing flavor.
As for soaking flowers, you have to add them to the spirit of your choice and let them sit.
If you opt for flowers with a very mild aroma, you can let the alcohol absorb the flavor for up to a week. In this case, use a jar that can be sealed airtight.
A third way to use flowers as a cocktail ingredient is by making a shrub, also known as drinking vinegar.
First, you need to make a simple syrup. Then add your flowers and let everything simmer for 15 minutes.
After that, add the vinegar. Let everything simmer for another 5 minutes and strain into a sealable container.
Basically, any vinegar works for shrubs. However, consider personal taste.
On a final note
Flowers make such a pretty garnish. Depending on the desired outcome, it can be an easy, quick and effective way to upgrade your drinks.
If you are more ambitious and passionate about it, it can be elaborate and more time-consuming - but by no means less effective.
Either way, enjoy experimenting with the different flower garnishes for cocktails.