Easy Orange Garnishes for Cocktails

easy orange garnishes you can make at home.cats cocktails crafts

Today in this BONUS blog post, I’m bringing you some easy garnishes you can make for your cocktails and mixed drinks. No special bar tools required!

I like making fun cocktails at home. My general philosophy in life is that I’d rather not pay for what I can do at home. I make exceptions from time to time, but I try to take these as chances for learning something new.

What makes a cocktail a “fun” cocktail? The extras! Sure, you can mix a gin and tonic or martini, but adding that little bit of an extra touch makes it so much better. We’ll talk flavors in a later post (like adding bitters, for example), but today we’re going to talk about garnishes; more specifically garnishes made from oranges. I realize as I’m writing this that I missed the simple orange slice and wedge! Well, hopefully those are self-explanatory enough.

Now you may be saying now, “Abby, I don’t really drink alcohol.” That’s okay! You can still use these tricks in drinks like soda, kombucha, water, or even tea! (Disclaimer: I haven’t tried these in tea, but I’m sure it’d be good, especially iced tea!!)

The three orange garnishes I’m going to talk about today are a curl, a flamed peel, and a twist. Now, these may have different names, but this is what I’m calling them today for distinction. I’ve heard all of these called “a twist of orange.”

The tools I’m using today are things you can find at home! There are fancier tools you can use to make cocktails, but sometimes you need to start small and simple.


Orange Curl


Arguably the prettiest on this list is the orange curl. Traditionally this is made with something called a channel knife, but today we’re using tools you have at home.

I’m going to be using a vegetable peeler and a small (sharp) knife.

Start at the “top” and work your way down in a spiral. I go about halfway down the orange.
Lay the spiral flat on a cutting board and carefully cut a thin strip (I trimmed on both sides).
Take a straw, handle of a spoon, or simply your finger and twirl the strip around. Use one hand to hold the end in place.
Spiral to the end of the strip, then gently slide off, holding together so it doesn’t unwind.
Hold! Gently place into drink. (Martinis shouldn’t use fizzy water. Ignore this in photo. Ha!)

And you’re done. Gorgeous!


Orange Twist


For this simple garnish, you can use a knife or vegetable peeler. When you make this cut, be careful not to get any of the flesh (the little bubbles of juice), just the pith (the white rind).

Twist it OVER the drink! The orange peel releases oils when you do this, so don’t waste that tasty stuff. It also makes your drink smell delicious before you even take a sip. Gently run the peel around the rim of the glass before you plop it in.

Voila! This is one of the most used orange garnishes, so it’s a good technique to know.

Next up is a slight variation of this one!

Flamed Orange Peel


Flamed orange peel? Isn’t that just a neat trick bartenders do?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, it’s true that you can easily put on a little show with this trick. However, it also changes the flavor a little by making it a little more caramelized.

Cut an orange peel like shown in the above garnish.

Next step: fire!

Before we actually get the flame out, let’s talk about the skin. It’s actually porous, and, similar to your own skin, the pores open up when warmed. For oranges, this means the delicious orange oils have a better escape route!
Flaming an orange peel is easier than you may think. The key is to KEEP THE FLAME MOVING so you don’t burn the peel. Let’s not start any fires. After you flame it, same as before, we’re going to give it a twist. This time we don’t add it to the drink!

If you’d still like to add the peel to the drink, you absolutely can. You’re at home. I like to add a fresh peel since this one will make the drink a little smokier/bitter.

You also want to gently run the peel around the edge of the glass. This helps with not only the aroma as you bring up the glass, but also gives you a delicious first taste.

If you like this garnish, be sure to look up tutorials on YouTube of flamed orange peels! There’s this technique where you snap the peel over the flame (both are over the drink) and it creates a fun little burst! It’s not for the amateur mixologist, so make sure to try these garnishes first.


What cocktail home techniques do you want to see next? Comment below!

Be sure to follow me here and on Instagram to keep up with my latest posts. In my last post we made the mini photo backdrop you see in some of the photos!

See you Wednesday for a recipe from a nearly 90 year old cookbook!!

4 thoughts on “Easy Orange Garnishes for Cocktails

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