Bars Do It, So Can You
There is something undeniably fun about adding cheesy, retro decorations to your cocktail glass. Many of these items still show up in bars because they are both practical and amusing, but they can easily be purchased for the home as well. And seeing them will often immediately whisk you back to childhood – as kids didn’t we all fight over who got the cocktail sword or beg to choose our straw color? While stunning garnishes like orchid flowers and gold flake are cool, sometimes it’s worth adding a bit of bright-eyed wonder to a cocktail. Besides, it’s impossible not to smile when your tiki drink has its own umbrella.
Cocktail Swords are a tongue-in-cheek solution to the practicality of the toothpick. They’ve been around for decades, but they still make you want to say “En Garde” and have a mini sword fight with your drinking friends. And when a bag of 500 costs under $6 on Amazon, you can’t go wrong.
Flag Toothpicks aren’t just for the 4th of July anymore. Not when you can find just about any country’s flag you want. Skewer a cherry and you’re done. Or, if it’s not cocktail time, stick one in your ice cream sundae.
Flexi-Straws: How can you resist a straw that flexes? The answer: You can’t. Even adults love to play with these and the bright color will supercharge any long drink with a shot of rainbow brightness.
Paper Tiki Umbrellas are a blast from the past that never went away. I dare you to pop one of these in a drink and not smile. It’s an island vacation in one compact package (the Oriental Trading Company sells great ones.) And, if you get bored, you can open and close it with abandon. Who said you can’t open an umbrella in the house?
Plastic Animals can be bought by the bagful on Amazon, just like the cocktail swords. They are the brass ring of the drink adornment universe, coming in all manner of shapes and sizes from the monkeys and mermaids that you can hang off the edge of a coupe to camels, giraffes, and other critters.
Swizzle sticks made of twigs were traditionally used in the West Indies to stir a drink called a ‘Switchel.’ While you often see the latter in classic cocktail bars, (and both glass and Bakelite were made as well), the plastic type has always been more common. Etsy, Ebay and the like often sell vintage versions that would make Don Draper feel right at home; many people collect them as a hobby. For good reason too – they add character to your drink and, regardless of whether your sipper needs to be stirred, who can resist the urge to twirl that little stick around the ice cubes? It’s the cure for idle hands.
Two-tone Paper Straws have been showing up in bars a lot lately. They give the drink an old-timey feel and are far better made than in earlier years when they often became a soggy mess. And, while once difficult to find, they can now be had at places as familiar as Target.