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What are Cocktail Picks?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Cocktail picks or cocktail toothpicks are small beverage utensils that are used to spear garnishes on cocktails. For instance if you order a martini with an olive, you’re like to want to eat the olive. By placing the olive on a cocktail pick, you can easily pick up the olive and eat it without having to fish through the glass to get to it.

The simplest cocktail picks are wooden or plastic toothpicks, often ones that have a tiny amount of colored ribbon wrapped on one end to make a drink look more festive. Yet there’s no reason to stop at these relatively unimaginative offerings. You can find both reusable, and significantly more durable cocktail picks in a variety of styles, or disposable ones that exhibit a range of different designs.

Many are familiar with some of the tropical drinks like pina coladas that are usually served with a fruit garnish. Most typically, you’ll see wooden cocktail picks with small umbrellas on the end to emphasize the “tropical” and “island” nature of these drinks. There’s no need to reserve these merely for cocktails that contain alcohol. Kids may love umbrella picks speared through a few slices of fruit on smoothies, fruit drinks, or even on simple sodas like lemon-lime or cola flavored drinks.

In most kitchen supply or beverage stores, you'll find a variety of one-time use plastic cocktail picks. If these are really flexible, they may not adequately spear certain items. Pineapple and pickled onions are known enemies of inexpensive wooden and plastic picks.

More durable picks are to be had in a plethora of designs. Some picks have monkeys, pirate symbols, stars, swizzles, or even pigs or blowfish on the ends. If you want to make sure you still have picks at the end of the night, consider metal ones. These are not likely to be confused with plastic or wooden spears that can be thrown out. Metal cocktail picks also have the advantage of being able to spear almost anything without breaking, something you can’t always count on with other varieties.

If you’re looking for elaborate designs in metal picks, you can expect to pay about 10-14 US dollars (USD) for a set of six. Generally the more elaborate the design, the more you’ll pay, and you can easily pay well over 20 USD for an older set or one of superior make and quality. Another choice, quite popular when you’re serving Asian or tropical inspired dinners, is a bamboo skewer. These are one time use, but a set of 50 can normally be purchased for about 5 USD.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By literally45 — On Apr 03, 2014

The flag cocktail pics are very cute too. They're great for country themed parties and get togethers. We used them for a school event about international food. We bought cocktail pics with assorted country flags. They were a hit. Some of the students actually took them along after they drank and ate the snacks.

By donasmrs — On Apr 02, 2014

@fify-- Yes there are cocktail umbrella picks out there. You can buy them from party favor stores or from online.

I had bought a pack of wooden cocktail umbrella picks for a Hawaiian themed party and they worked great. I used them in drinks with fruit and also on appetizers. They added color to everything and people were very excited about them.

I just suggest getting good quality ones. Very cheap cocktail picks tend to be flimsy and break easily. You want something that will hold up when you put the pick through food. The issue with cocktail umbrellas is that if they are made flimsy, they can break while opening the umbrella. So pay a little more and get something that's good quality. It will be worth it.

By fify — On Apr 02, 2014

I really like cocktail umbrellas but I don't want to place both umbrellas and picks in my cocktails. Are there cocktail umbrellas that are also picks? Or could I make them myself?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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