Simple Tiki Drink Garnishes For You

The word Tiki evokes a lot of different thoughts. In modern America, we think of tiki in the sense of some kind of Hawaiian party with torches, grass skirt, and fruity drinks. Drinks that comes in tall glasses, are brightly colored, have an umbrella hanging out of it, and taste like they are made from the fruit gods. Is that really all it’s about though? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good tiki bar party but where does the word come from? 

So, Where Do We Get The Word Tiki?

Tiki is actually from Maori Mythology and the word means the “first Man”. Maori Mythology started in New Zealand. Polynesian culture, which is a shared language and system of beliefs throughout the pacific southwest, had reached Hawaii by 900 A.D., and with it, the story of Tiki. In Hawaiian culture Tiki was a man named Kumuhonua. He was made by Kāne, or by Kāne, Kū, and Lono. His body was made by mixing red earth with saliva. He was made in the shape of Kāne, who carried the earth from which the man was made from the four corners of the world. A woman was made from one of his ribs. Kanaloa was watching when Kāne made the first man, and he too made a man, but could not bring him to life. Kanaloa then said to Kāne, “I will take your man, and he will die.” And so death came upon mankind. 

Tiki, in today’s culture, means a large or small humanoid statue made of wood or stone. Tiki drinks are strong, wonderfully flavored drinks that often show off this history by being served in a mug or glass shaped like a Tiki statue. The drinks often have a unique Hawaiian spin like Mai Tai or Blue Hawaii. They have even come to encompass many tropical type of drinks that originated elsewhere like the Pina Colada, The Mojito, and Hurricane.

What is a Cocktail Garnish?

Tiki drinks fall under the realm of cocktails. Many cocktails comes with a Garnish. SO what exactly is a garnish? Cocktail garnishes are decorative ornaments that add character or style to a mixed drink, most notably to cocktails. They can also be used to enhance the flavor or aroma of a drink. They often serve as a way to make the drink more enjoyable than it would be otherwise without the Garnish.

A large variety of cocktail garnishes are used. Many cocktails with fruit flavor, tend to be decorated with tropical-themed garnishes or slices of fruit. Other drinks favor limes and other citrus fruits. Then there are drinks that tend toward garnishes with a more dignified flair (olives, onions, or possibly a citrus twist or a single maraschino cherry), unless they are variations of a fruity rum-based drink. There are some drinks that rarely come with a garnish at all. 

Some Garnishes are part of the actual recipe. The Olive in the Martini or the cherry in the Manhattan. Nowadays, one of the main reasons is for a spectacle. I think we have all seen the ridiculous Bloody Marys that are out there. You know the ones with pickles, cheese, olives, bacon, chicken wings, and some even have chicken legs. They are meant to be an experience rather than an additive to the drink itself. 

Here is a good idea of how many garnishes there are available for drinks:

  • Candied ginger
  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery stalks
  • Cherries
  • Cinnamon, grated
  • Cocktail olives
  • Cocktail onions
  • Lemon slice, twist, or wedge
  • Lime slice, twist, or wedge
  • Mint sprigs or leaves
  • Nutmeg, grated
  • Orange slice, twist, or wedge
  • Pineapple slice or wedge
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Sugar, granulated or powdered
  • Shrimp
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon wedge
  • Bitters

There are also some very recognizable garnishes that aren’t food items at all. If you can tell me that at one point in your you didn’t have a sword fight with those little tiny swords, then I don’t don’t know if I could believe you. They were everywhere! Another popular non-food garnish was the umbrellas. The coolest ones were definitely the ones that you could fold and unfold. There are some pretty wild ones out there too! Fire! Yes, lighting a drink on fire can be considered a garnish as well. 

The environment has become an important issue for us now, and it should be. Plastic, among other materials are being phased out when possible, that includes straws, swizzle sticks, and sadly (but most necessary) the tiny swords. 

Here are some of the best examples of inedible garnishes:

  • Plastic animals 
  • Bead necklaces 
  • Candles
  • Cocktail umbrellas
  • Drinking straws 
  • Fire 
  • Flags
  • Plastic swords
  • Sparklers
  • Swizzle sticks
  • Inedible flowers

The Best Cocktail Garnishes To Use For Your Tiki Drink

Pineapple – Does any fruit say tropical as much as the pineapple? There are certainly some contenders but I think Pineapple wins the round every time. You can also cut it into fun shapes to either include on a swizzle stick or on the side of the glass.

Orange Spiral – Orange is a great flavor to pair with alcohol no matter what drink it is. When it is a tiki drink then orange works best. A mai tai with an orange twist just sounds so good! If you need a tool to make some twists then try this out from Amazon.

Citrus Slices – This may seem obvious, or even a little like cheating, but citrus slices are great garnishes. A tiki drink needs a good garnish and you can’t get a more dependable garnish than a citrus slice. Lemon, Lime, Orange, does it matter? Maybe, but they are all versatile and can go with almost any drink. Leave it at the top for a nice smell, bury it at the bottom of the glass for a great taste, or squeeze it into the drink to get a nice shot of flavor. 

Sugar Rim – I mean, straight sugar is good. It may not be good for your diet, but that’s not what we’re debating here. If you want to make a delicious drink better, sugar the rim. All you need to do is dip the top of the glass in some water, a simple syrup, or even a citrus juice.

The Umbrella – Is it even a tiki drink if it doesn’t come with an umbrella in it? That’s a hard no. These things define an entire style of drinks! So stock up on those disposable umbrellas here on Amazon!

It’s always best to know what works and what doesn’t but these are pretty obvious. A Scotch on the rocks doesn’t need a garnish. A shot of Whiskey doesn’t need a garnish. So you can see there are some circumstances that don’t need this. However, you can be inventive. While some garnishes are specifically suited to one drink there are garnishes that go with multiple drinks. You can put a lime with a Corona, a Rum and Coke, and a shot of Tequila. It really comes down to what you want and what you think works best. Next time you have a tiki party or want a tiki drink then use this guide, but by all means, be creative! Except for you DD, there’s nothing creative about water, which is what you should be drinking. Anyways, have fun and be safe. Cheers!

Here at hmmwhat2drink.com, we strive for a commitment to excellence. We enjoy our beers, spirits, and specialty drinks as much as the next, but we urge you to drink responsibly. These articles and recipes are intended for adults and as such, should be used in the proper context. So have fun, relax, but do it responsibly in your home or with a designated driver. If you have any suggestions please email us at hmmwhat2drink@gmail.com.

HmmWhat2Drink.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.