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Cocktail with Flower garnish

Flower Garnish for Cocktails

Flower garnishes are a remarkable elegant, versatile way to decorate your cocktails. They can be used and applied in so many different styles and manners - it seems sheer endless.

Flowers just have something so 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 decide to go all the way and try out creating some proper pieces of art.

But as with every other cocktail ingredient, it is absolutely vital that they are edible. Read on to find out how you can use flowers as a garnish, which flowers are a good choice, and what cocktails are a good match for those flower garnishes.

Why use edible flowers as a cocktail garnish? 

Some might think it’s a little too playful. However, most of you probably would agree with me that floral garnishes are stunning. They offer so many different options and possibilities. You can even use them to create some signature garnish of your own.

But besides the obvious of improving or altering the visual appearance of your drink, they can also add another layer to it. Many edible flowers are quite fragrant: from very sweet and floral all to way to quite spicy and kind of savory smells, it’s all there. So it is not just about the pretty looks it actually can do something for the drinking experience. That, in turn, also means you have to keep this in mind when deciding on a flower garnish.

Ways to use flowers as a cocktail garnish

I said it before: there are endless possibilities to use flowers as a garnish for your cocktail. You can use them in fresh, dried, or also candied form. The most straightforward option is to simply let a blossom or two float on top of your drink. Or you can put some beside the cocktail glass.

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, aguafaba. Because the consistency is comparably firm and steady, you can try creating patterns on top of the foam. For this, you will need tweezers, as it is very delicate work.

Then there’s also the option to combine different flowers or fruit and flowers using a cocktail pick. Flowers with slightly bigger blossoms and any sort of 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.

If you don’t want the flowers to end up in your cocktail, you can apply them to the rim of your glass. Dried tiny edible petals are light enough to stick to a glass’s rim as sugar would. -Or salt when you prepare a glass for a Margarita. All you need is a wedge of lemon or lime that you can use to moist the edge of your 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. However, depending on whether it’s for photos or for drinking only, keep in mind how people will hold the glass. Otherwise, this might turn into a mess and end up being somewhat of a nuisance for the person supposed to drink the cocktail.

Overview on flowers that make a good cocktail garnish 

You can basically use any flower to garnish your cocktail with, as long as you are sure it is edible. That mainly means you know it is not toxic. If you or the person a drink is for has any known plant allergies, of course, you also should consider those. Also, please never use a flower to garnish your drink you can not identify with certainty.

If you need some inspiration, look through this list of my favorite flowers to use as a cocktail garnish.

Apple and cherry blossoms

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 flowers

Aster

Asters have small to medium sizes blossoms with thin, delicate petals. They are usually pale violet in color. You can also find them in rose, pink, and sometimes even in yellow.

Butterfly Pea flower

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

Bee Balm or Oswego Tea

This one is quite extraordinary. First, the blossoms have a unique shape, but they also have a remarkably spicy fragrance and taste. If you never smelled one of these, you will be surprised. The Bee Balm comes in colors from red to violet.

Carnation flower garnish

Carnation

This is my favorite flower of all time. Carnations 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 -but then I might be biased.

Chamomile flowers garnish

Chamomile

The allrounder among the flowers. There’s not much the Chamomile can’t do. And with its white, slim petals and bright yellow pistils, it also makes a very cute garnish on your drink. 

Cornflowers

Cornflower

A beautiful and bright blue-colored flower with jagged petals. Cornflowers have a mild, somewhat endive-like aroma. 

Elderflower garnish

Elderflower

These beautiful, tiny, white flowers have a sweet taste and a very, very pleasant smell to them. Elderflower processed into syrup, juice, or liqueur is a popular cocktail ingredient, as well. So it makes sense to use this as a garnish for Cocktails that already contain Elderflower in any form.

Forget me not flower

Forget me not

Also called scorpion-grasses. The tiny, little flowers are either pale rose, light blue, or white. Their smell is spicy, though hardly noticeable, and the taste is somewhat neutral. So they are pretty much compatible with all cocktails.

Hibiscus flower garnish

Hibiscus

Like carnations, hibiscus comes in countless colors. They look lovely fresh, but I prefer to use them dried. They look spectacular when you let them soak in a liquid for a while. You can read more about this below.

Lavender flowers

Lavender

Lavender has long and uniquely shaped purple blossoms with a very distinct fragrance. Some people mix it up with Hyacinth, so be careful here because they are toxic.

Marigold flower garnish

Marigold

A beautiful flower with petals in distinctive yellow to orange shades. It’s also readily available in dried form in most countries. Marigold has a pleasant smell. The taste, however, is bitter, and some find it a bit salty.

Rose flowers garnish drinks

Roses

Roses are an excellent choice if you plan to use individual, silky petals to garnish your cocktail. Many roses have the typical floral aroma, whereas others are neutral. The taste is more on the sweet side.

Wild carrot flowers

Wild Carrot

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 flowers different colors

Yarrow

The way the individual blossoms are arranged is similar to the wild carrot. However, the shape of the petals is different, and the Yarrow comes in more colors. From white to deep red, they are a good choice for a wide range of cocktails. Yarrow is quite aromatic, and the fragrance reminds of nutmeg. The taste is comparable to that of Chamomile.

I limited this list to 15 flowers. But honestly, I could add many, many more as I find them all so very pretty. 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 the fields in your area. -Or in a friendly neighbor’s garden, if you have one with a green thumb.

How to make edible candied flowers? 

To alter or uplift the taste of your floral garnish, you can also consider turning 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.

Add the egg white and the 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 should be clumps of sugar, gently brush them off.

Candied flower petals

Make sure you arrange the petals on the rack in the way you like them to be. Once the flower is dry, you cannot move them anymore. Now repeat this process with all your flowers. Once you are 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 5hours, but it’s not ideal.

When you use candid 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 easy and 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. There is one flower, in particular, that is perfect for this: dried hibiscus. I never use anything else for this because they are so perfect. (It’s vital they are dried and in one piece, though. It won’t work with fresh flowers.)

Soaked hibiscus flowers

For instance, you can use a few oz of dark Rum, pour it in a glass, ad some dried hibiscus blossoms and then let it sit for 30 minutes. You will get a beautiful, boozy garnish, plus a red-colored, hibiscus-flavored Rum, that you can use in your cocktail, 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. And 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 try out bigger flowers, you may need more glue and time to hold them in place until they stick. However, for a start, I recommend using the small ones. That way, you can avoid frustration.

Cocktail with flower garnish
Cocktail garnished with flowers and petals

If you want to look for some inspiration, Veermasterberlin truly mastered the art of floral garnishes. He has some beautiful pieces on his social media. He also invented his own DIY organic glue. If you’re interested, give him a follow. 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, more or less obvious things to keep in mind: As stated before, one important thing is that you stick to using edible flowers. Even if you only take photographs, it is probably good not to give someone a wrong idea.

Then you also should make sure the floral garnish you use is not sprayed nor was in contact with chemicals in any other way if you intend to serve and/or drink the cocktail at one point.

Also, keep in mind that dried flowers are brittle and will fall to pieces easily. And you don’t want all these small flower crumbs in your drink. And, in turn, with fresh flowers, they won’t look good forever. So pick or get them not too long before you plan to use them.

Tools that come in handy

Of course, for the basic kind of floral garnish, you need no tools whatsoever. For candied flowers, a small, soft, and food-safe brush will be helpful when applying the 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 try and make some art by attaching floral garnish to your glass – or arrange them in a certain way on top of an egg-white foam, you will need tweezers and edible glue, as well as a broader silicone brush.

Where to get flowers to garnish a cocktail?

If you have a backyard or fields and woods in your surrounding area where wildflowers grow, this is the place to go. Alternatively, if you don’t have this opportunity or feel confident in telling the different flowers apart, there’s also the option to 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. Specialized Botanical Stores like Gourmet Sweet Botanicals in California are generally recommendable. Sometimes, you might be lucky and get some with Amazon Prime, 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 sole purpose of photography, there are no limits anyway. And otherwise, if you don’t plan to put the flower garnish into your drink, there are no objections whatsoever. So placing a blossom beside the cocktail glass can never go wrong.

It’s a little different if you consider using your garnish on top of your cocktail or spiked on a pick. In that case, it makes sense to pick a flower garnish that has a fragrance and aroma that work with your drink. Dried flowers are a good idea only on top of a cocktail with egg white foam -or the vegan alternative aquafaba. Because that way, they stay on top of the drink and don’t end up in someone’s mouth. 

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 some ways to incorporate flowers into your cocktail apart from using them as a garnish.

For instance, you can use them to make a floral syrup. More aromatic flowers 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. Here’s a more detailed guide on how to make syrup at home. 

Another option is to use them for infusing spirits. White Rum, Vodka, or Tequila are recommendable here, as they have no overly intense flavors to them and are high proof. That helps a lot with absorbing flavors. As for soaking flowers, you have to add the flowers to the spirit of your choice and let them sit overnight. If your selected flowers have very mild aromas, 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 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, think about how it will go with the aroma of your flowers and how you want the final result to taste.

Both -syrups and shrubs- can be stored in a fridge for a few weeks.

Final Verdict 

Flower garnishes are a brilliant way to improve the visuals of an average cocktail or any other drink. Depending on the desired outcome, it can be an easy, quick and effective way to upgrade a drink. Or, 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, I hope you will enjoy experimenting with floral garnishes as much as I do.

If you should miss any information or know another way to use flowers as a cocktail garnish, let me know in the comments.

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