The Most Inexpensive Ways to Decorate Summer Cocktails

With warmer weather slowly creeping in, many are switching from spicy bourbon cocktails to light, bright, citrus-driven drinks. Mixing these recipes up at home may seem a little intimidating, but that’s why we’ve boiled plenty of drinks down into fun, easy recipes that even the newest home bartender can tackle.

The best way to elevate these drinks — without shelling out for orchid blooms or an expensive craft ice set — is to learn a few easy tricks that will take your drinks up a notch. In the summer, our favorite hack for inexpensively decorating summer cocktails is to simply use the same citrus you’re juicing in your recipe to create fun, seasonal garnishes. If you take the time to learn a few techniques, you’ll also find that those same, inexpensive, citrus garnishes can lend natural oils and flavors that will amplify your drink.

Today there are millions to choose from, and sometimes it seems like lemons and limes simply never go out of season. However, for the true believers out there, we know you know that there’s nothing quite like juicing ripe, seasonal citrus into your cocktail.

While it’s almost impossible to hate on lemonade, limes do retain a competitive edge against their sunny cousin, simply because their growing season begins in May, as opposed to lemons which technically ripen in July. Of course, you can also satisfy all your spring and early summer citrus needs with Grapefruit, which when grown in Arizona or California remains ripe from January through August.

But no matter what juicy fruit you decide to go for, the most important thing to remember is that all citrus deserves to be used from peel to core. So the next time you’re making a cocktail with citrus, remember to cut a thin slice from the peel and use it to express the fruit’s natural oils over the drink. If you’re new to the technique or want to brush up on your expertise, you can find a full explainer here.

The best way to cut that slice is to use a peeler rather than a knife, as a standard blade could lead to an annoying knick that’s primed for an even more annoying douse of lemon juice. Plus, any professional bartender will tell you that the only way to truly cut a lemon twist or slice a peel for garnish is with a true citrus peeler.

The Professional Citrus Peeler

The best citrus peeler for making cocktail garnishes.

To avoid this, look to a standard version like this Professional Citrus Peeler. Made with stainless steel, you can count on this tool to stand up to every drop of citrus it encounters, without ever rusting or giving away to early wear and tear. Built to last, this peeler will help you conquer all your garnish dreams, and complete every Martini requested “with a twist.”

It’s sharp, it’s simple, and frankly, simply perfect, so if you’re in the market for a reliable peeler, look no further than this classic version. The next time you’re mixing up anything from a Passionfruit Mojito to a Brunch Bellini, you’ll be grateful you have one.

The Professional Citrus Zester

The best citrus zester for professional bartenders.

Another way to get straight to those rich, citrus oils is to simply zest a lemon, lime, or orange directly over your drink. Using a citrus zester like this professional option will allow you to cut thin, delicate ribbons of citrus that provide a bright sparkle to your drink and infuse those oils right into your drink.

This zester is great because it features a curved stainless steel blade that makes zesting a quick task for any home bartender. The handle is made with polished, stained acacia wood so it can stand up to plenty of juice and provides ergonomic support as your shave segments into your favorite recipes.