The 10 Best Cocktail Picks, According to Bartenders
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Make that lemon twist, candied ginger, or olive garnish pop.
Who doesn’t love indulging in a delicious Luxardo maraschino cherry at the end of a Manhattan or a juicy olive alongside a dirty martini? While garnishes add that extra aesthetic pop to a cocktail, they also add flavor and aroma. What cocktail enthusiasts don’t appreciate is having to fish out the garnish from the bottom of the glass when they’ve reached the end of the drink — or worse, attempting to grab it mid-cocktail. That’s where the simple but handy cocktail pick comes into play, and any mixologist will tell you that these bar tools are worth having in your repertoire.
Award-winning mixologist and hospitality industry consultant, Carlos Ruiz, says, “Not all cocktails need cocktail picks, but in my experience, cocktails that are served up and contain a garnish need a cocktail pick for the perfect experience.” We connected with Ruiz and other drinks experts to get their favorite cocktail pick recommendations, and the results have us brushing up on our favorite whiskey cocktail recipes to make at home.
Geiserailie 36-Piece Stainless Steel Martini Picks
Award-winning drinks expert Aidy Smith recommends stainless steel cocktail picks of varying lengths, depending on the cocktails you are serving. This budget-friendly set of 36 rounds out a bar cart nicely, offering four, six, and eight-inch pick sizes. “My rule of thumb is usually four inches for a coupe or martini-style glass and six inches if you’re using a tumbler, so it doesn’t get lost within the liquid,” says Smith.
The 8-inch cocktail pick would suit a bloody mary accompanied by celery, pickles, olives, and even bacon, while the 4-inch size would work well for classic olive garnishes or a simple citrus twist. These are a classy and durable choice for those who plan to use cocktail picks frequently.
Price at time of publish: $17
A Bar Above Stainless Steel Cocktail Picks
Ruiz recommends this stylish set of stainless steel cocktail picks from A Bar Above. “They have the perfect amount of style, function, and weight,” Ruiz says. If all you need is one size, it’s best to go with the classic four-inch size for the broadest range of cocktails. They come in a set of 12, which is ideal for intimate, at-home gatherings. We’ll take a bourbon sour with a thin slice of orange rind and a Luxardo maraschino cherry on this cocktail pick, please.
Price at time of publish: $15
Love & Victory Cocktail Picks
Best for Gifting
Founder of Love & Victory, Meg Moorhouse designs some incredibly stylish cocktail picks. This set of four gold and black enameled galaxy cocktail picks is charming, well-made, and a classy way to show off garnishes. While they are pricier than others on the list, their quality makes them worth it and they look great in the glass. In the same black and gold enameled style, some of their other sets include eye, surfer, snake, lucky horseshoe, and heart designs.
Because these cocktail picks are metal with a gold-tone and enamel finish, we recommend carefully washing them by hand and avoiding abrasive scrubbers to prevent any unnecessary degradation.
Price at time of publish: $24
Cork Pops Stainless Steel Olive Cocktail Picks
Best for Martinis
Simply put, these olive-topped cocktail picks are kitschy and fun. Nothing could be cheekier than serving up martinis with an olive-themed cocktail pick. The pick itself is stainless steel, while the olive topper is made of resin. The olives are strongly attached and well-crafted, but we do recommend hand-washing for longevity. At four inches long, they are suitable for leaning inside a classic martini glass and can hold a few olives at a time.
Price at time of publish: $23
Homestia Cocktail Picks
Best for Themed Parties
For themed parties, look no further than the collections of cocktail picks from Homestia. We like the classic set which comes with six picks with bear, owl, elephant, octopus, pineapple, and skull charms on top. Other themed sets include animals, palm trees, planets, and skulls (prices vary for each set). These ornamental cocktail picks make a nice gift for party hosts and cocktail enthusiasts, especially if they enjoy throwing eccentric parties. Playful charms like this can also be great conversation starters and help to break the ice if guests aren’t all familiar with one another.
Price at time of publish: $16
Prince of Scots Crystal Cocktail Picks
Crystal glass beads encased in stainless steel top these cocktail picks and offer a sophisticated look when it comes to showcasing garnishes. These cocktail picks are ideal for more elegant gatherings where classic cocktails are served. We love these fancy picks and even though they’re on the pricey side, these beauties shimmer and bring a glimpse of glamor to any occasion.
They come in a set of eight and are packaged nicely in a sleek black box, also making them a good option for gifting. These would look great in a sexy glass atop a bar cart next to your drink ingredients and garnish fixings.
Price at time of publish: $40
Demigo Stainless Steel Cocktail Picks
For some cocktail enthusiasts, the more ingredients the better — and for those types of imbibers, we suspect you’ll be looking for something a little more festive with which to skewer garnishes. The tops of these picks are cocktail-themed with charms of jiggers, shakers, and glassware. They are still uber practical, made of stainless steel, and size up to four inches.
While bartenders don’t typically use decorative picks like this at a bar — because they are likely to go “missing” — they are great for at-home use with close friends and family. They come in a set of 16, too, and go a long way for smaller gatherings.
Price at time of publish: $12
Blue Top Bamboo Cocktail Picks
For the eco-mindful consumer who’s hosting a big party or planning a large corporate event, knotted bamboo cocktail picks are a nice choice. They’re aesthetically pleasing, wildly affordable (only $10 for a pack of 200), and eco-friendly. Because they are made from natural bamboo, they can be composted after use! We recommend the 4-inch size so they are most suitable for a wide variety of cocktails served in old-fashioned glasses. While this brand offers painted options, experts recommend sticking with the natural, unpainted bamboo to eliminate any flaking in the glass.
Price at Time of Publish: $10
Kintyno Multicolor Bamboo Cocktail Picks
These decorative cocktail picks are a steal at $6 for a pack of 100, each adorned with a colorful bead. While the bamboo portion of the pick can be composted, the plastic bead is not — something to keep in mind if you were looking for a low- or no-waste option. If you tend to lose picks or simply prefer not to have to wash them, consider investing in a pack of these. They’re whimsical enough for a party but cheap enough that you won’t mind tossing them at the end of the night.
Price at time of publish: $6
Fair Good Wood Pearl Bamboo Cocktail Picks Wood Pearl Bamboo Cocktail Picks
For a fancier bamboo option, this choice from Fair Good adds a bit of flair with a wood pearl on top. These are 1/8-inch thick, so they’re sturdy enough to hold a good portion of garnishes and be reused for multiple cocktails in one evening. We love the fixed, colorful wood pearl on top (the part that doesn’t sit inside your cocktail) because it adds a decorative element without compromising the quality of your cocktail — mixologists agree that paint or foil on a cocktail pick can degrade quickly and land in your drink.
Price at time of publish: $12
Factors to Consider
If you make a lot of cocktails at home, it’s worth investing in some quality, stainless steel cocktail picks that can last a lifetime if kept well. For those who throw an occasional cocktail party and prefer an easy cleanup, opt for sustainable choices like compostable bamboo cocktail picks that are single-use and can be thrown in your green waste bin at the end of the night. Bartenders and drink experts don’t recommend cocktail picks with foils, as they tend to degrade over time, and with many washes, the foil can flake off easily in drinks.
Drinks experts recommend hand-washing cocktail picks because they can easily slip through the large spaces in dishwashers, even in silverware racks. Because they are small, you can soak them in a sanitizing solution or a soapy, warm water solution, then rinse and dry them. A standard, soapy sponge can also do the trick. Always dry your cocktail picks to keep them shiny for your next drink.
A general rule of thumb is four inches for a standard cocktail pick, but it depends on the cocktail you are making and the garnishes you are selecting. Smith recommends going with a longer option like six inches if you are making a tall cocktail served in a Collins glass.
Price varies greatly depending on if you are looking for single-use or long-term, or if you prefer something designed for aesthetic and decoration. For cocktail connoisseurs who mix up drinks at home often, quality stainless steel cocktail picks that can be reused are best. Single-use cocktail picks are very affordable if you need them for a one-off gathering here and there. For those who want to make their cocktails shine, decorative cocktail picks can get pricey depending on the materials used and adornments on top, but they sure do look nice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which cocktails and drinks need cocktail picks?
Lee Noble, Lead Cocktail Specialist for Art in the Age and Quaker City Mercantile in Philadelphia, says, “If you want the guest to eat the garnish, like a cherry or olive, put it on a pick so it’s easy to pick up and eat. Obvious choices are martinis with olives, Manhattans with a cherry garnish, or a Bloody Mary with celery, olives, cheese, or even charcuterie.”
What is the average size of a cocktail pick?
Smith says: “It depends really, they come in all shapes and sizes! My rule of thumb is usually four inches for a coupe or martini style glass and six inches if you’re using a tumbler so it doesn’t get lost within the liquid.” When it comes to presentation, Noble says, “The shorter ones give the drink a serious utilitarian feel, and the longer ones are more elegant and formal.”
Can you use a cocktail pick for uses other than cocktail garnishes?
The most traditional, alternative use for cocktail picks is skewering hors d'oeuvres, cheese boards, and passed appetizers. “One of the best uses I’ve seen is for serving appetizers and taking the presentation to a whole new level,” says Smith.
What is the best way to clean a cocktail pick?
Noble says, “At home, I clean them individually by hand with a soft sponge, which is fast and easy since they don’t get that grimy. In the bar, we soak them in a sanitary solution briefly and then wash them in bunches for time’s sake.”
How long do cocktail picks generally last?
Eco-friendly compostable options like bamboo are single-use only, but stainless steel cocktail picks can last forever if you treat them right. Noble says to be weary of cocktail picks that are coated in chrome, gold, or other copper-colored foils, as “the coating will begin to degrade after a long time, or sooner if you’re washing them with harsh chemicals or scouring pads.”
Years of tasting and writing about food, wine, and spirits guide Melissa Vogt's research. As a tourist, Vogt seeks out the very best in local food and drink, and she's well acquainted with where to find good libations and eats in her hometown of Santa Rosa, Calif. Read more of her writing on her website and in Napa Valley Life, Wine Country This Month, and Medium. As part of her research, Melissa connected with drinks experts around the nation.
The expertise of Aidy Smith, Lee Noble, and Carlos Ruiz helped inform her research. Smith is an award-winning TV presenter for Amazon Prime’s The Three Drinkers series, broadcaster, journalist, and drinks expert. Noble is Lead Cocktail Specialist for Art in the Age and Quaker City Mercantile in Philadelphia, working to create and manage cocktail content for house brands and clients; he has taught more than 100 consumer-focused cocktail classes at the Art in the Age store since 2018 and has published The Cocktail Workshop: An Essential Guide to Classic Drinks and How to Make Them Your Own. Ruiz is a multi-award-winning mixologist and hospitality industry consultant.
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