The easiest method for how to make a lemon twist as a cocktail garnish uses no special equipment: all you need is a knife!

How to make a lemon twist

Got a cocktail that you want to garnish with a lemon twist, but not sure how to make one? We’re here to help! Alex and I are home cooks and homemade cocktail connoisseurs. We love finding the very easiest way to things, avoiding special tools if we can. Lately we made our French 75, Lemon Drop and Champagne Cocktail, and needed a cocktail garnish. Traditionally a lemon twist requires a special tool…so we set about finding a new way! Here’s all about how to make a lemon twist: with a knife.

Want more cocktail advice? How to Muddle Mint.

The traditional method? A channel knife.

If you’re a professional mixologist, how do you make a lemon twist? With a channel knife! A channel knife makes it easy to cut out a lemon twist. They’re relatively inexpensive, so it’s not hard to stock up on one. (Here’s a channel knife on Amazon.) But if you need this cocktail garnish now and don’t happen to have one…here’s the next best option!

Our easy method? Use a paring knife.

How to make a lemon twist
Yield: Cocktail garnishes!

How to Make a Lemon Twist

Active Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 1 minute

The easiest method for how to make a lemon twist as a cocktail garnish uses no special equipment: all you need is a knife!


  • 1 lemon


  • 1 paring knife


  1. Cut the lemon width-wise into a circle.
    Cutting a lemon
  2. Run a paring knife around the edge to remove the peel, cutting away as much of the pith as possible. Remove the fruit and set aside.
    Cutting a lemon peel garnish
  3. Cut the remaining peel circle so that it becomes a long strip. Twist it, holding it for several seconds until the shape is kept.
    How to make a lemon twist

Cocktails with a lemon twist

There are lots of cocktails with this garnish! Here are our favorites that you can use this garnish trick on:

  • French 75 Cocktail A sophisticated drink that’s tangy, bubbly, and a bit botanical.
  • The Classic Champagne Cocktail A classic cocktail that’s festive and elegant, perfect for celebration. The sugar cube makes it sparkle!
  • Lemon Drop Here’s the best lemon drop martini you’ll have, made simply with vodka, Cointreau and lemon! It’s festive and refreshing, with a lemon twist and sugar rim.

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. I am a retired bartender and was interested in your method for making lemon twists. Your method seems ideal for the more ornate cocktails while my way lends itself more to the neighborhood bar. I’m wondering if you are aware of the use of an ice pick.

    Cut off both ends of the lemon so that about 2″ remains. Insert an ice pick between the rind and the meat in one end and push through to the other end keeping the point of the ice pick away from the meat. Now, pressing the ice pick firmly against the rind, rotate the lemon allowing the rod of the ice pick to separate the rind from the meat. Massaging the lemon while rotating will facilitate the separation. Pushing the separated meat out one end will give you a tube of lemon rind. Cut the tube in half lengthwise and flatten in order to cut twists to measure 2″ X 1/4″ wide.
    The bartender will then twist the twist over the prepared cocktail to release a mist of citrus oil adding a hint of lemon taste and aroma to the drink.