When it comes to cocktails, salt has more to offer than just being a decorative and tasty coating to the glass's rim.
Salt has been a staple in the kitchen for centuries, but it can be equally valuable behind the bar. We've all seen the salt-encrusted rims of a Margarita glass, but it can offer so much more to a drink. By amplifying or balancing flavors, it is as versatile as any other cocktail ingredient.
The salty truth
A Harvard study from 1997 revealed that salt could enhance the flavor by suppressing the bitterness. A way of balancing out the flavors, such as making sweet taste sour. By suppressing the bitterness, other flavors can come through, giving us a better taste sensation of the drink.
This means that you can enhance your cocktail's flavors with a sprinkle of salt. So your sweet notes become much sweeter, and the sour notes become sourer, and so on. Even citrus notes are elevated in salted drinks.
How to add salt to your drinks
Salt is usually added on the rim of the glass, like the rimmed Margarita. This provides flavor and an aesthetic appeal. However, there are other ways to add the magic of salt to your drink. It can be sprinkled on or stirred in to enhance your cocktail.
Some salty alcoholic drinks contain ingredients like soy sauce or fish sauce, which will change the cocktail's flavor.
Adding salt to a cocktail will inhibit the bitterness and bring out the sweetness of flavors that aren't necessarily sweet. Even limes, lemons, and grapefruit begin to taste sweeter. This makes the cocktails more palatable and allows the authentic flavors of the alcohol to come through.
Does sodium create a quicker buzz?
You've probably seen people pour salt into their alcoholic drinks and wondered why they do this. Many people do this with beer. While some claim it enhances the drink's flavor, others say that adding it to a beer will get you drunk faster.
Does adding salt to beer give you a quicker buzz? No research indicates that this could work. Since there is no evidence backing up these theories, you can feel safe using it to enhance your drink's flavor and not enhance drunkenness.
Let's look at some fantastic cocktail recipes that will make you realize that adding salt to your cocktail is not such a so-so sodium thing to do!
Fun salted drinks recipes worth trying
Created by Bosscal Mezcal, this drink takes sodium to a new level of salty alcoholic beverages. It doesn't require regular old table salt; it calls for scorpion salt! Yes, it's made from dried and ground-up scorpions, chili de árbol, and sea salt.
When you add it to the rim of the glass, it creates a visually pleasing reddish-brown-colored rim. It doubles as a flavor enhancer to the citrus by giving them some earthy tones.
- 2 oz of Bosscal Mezcal Joven
- 1 oz of blood orange juice
- 0.5 oz of Bauchant orange liqueur (or you can use Cointreau)
- 0.75 oz of agave nectar
- Bosscal Scorpion Salt or Tajín for rim
- Blood orange slice or a lime wheel for garnish
Rim the glass (rock glass is preferred) with the scorpion salt. Add ice to the glass. You can use your ice ball maker to make perfectly round ice balls for an extra decorative and slow-melting touch.
In a cocktail shaker, shake the remaining ingredients with ice until the mixture becomes frothy. Strain into the glass, garnish, add a pinch more of the salt, serve and enjoy!
#2. Smoke On The Water
If you have ever traveled to New York City, Dante is a legendary bar that started in the early 1900s. They've created some salty cocktails over the years. One of their favorite concoctions is Smoke on the Water.
The sodium level not only enhances this altered version of a Martini, but it takes it to a whole new level.
- 2 oz of Sipsmith London Dry Gin
- 1 oz of port (white)
- A tsp of Talisker Scotch
- .25 oz of honey syrup
- A dash of saline solution
- 1 oz of Acqua Panna water
This drink is premade in batches and kept in the freezer. You then pour it right from the bottle to the glass. The glass they use is the Nick & Nora glass. Talisker is then sprayed from an atomizer over the top of the drink.
Another way to mix it is to stir all the ingredients together (except the Scotch). Also, remove the water if you use this method. Simply strain into your chilled glass, then spray the top with the Scotch, serve and enjoy!
#3. Old Hat
A variation of an Old-Fashioned from Uncle Nearest Whiskey, TN, this recipe has to be tried and tested as it is easy to overdo it with the salt. Salt and whiskey work well together, bringing out the whiskey's notes and the other citrus notes found in this cocktail.
The type used will also significantly affect this drink. Try to use a better cocktail salt than the more common iodized version to avoid any bitterness.
- 2 oz of Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey
- 0.25 oz of St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
- Tsp of maple syrup
- 4 dashes of Angostura bitters
- Pinch of salt
- Orange peel as a garnish
Combine everything in a large mixing glass, and add ice. Stir the contents until chilled, strain into a rocks glass over ice, garnish, serve and enjoy!
#4. Badwater Basin
Fish sauce is added to Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka in this mix by Pennsylvania Pure Distillery. The result is a savory umami flavor that comes through.
- 1.5 oz Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka
- 0.75 oz of cucumber juice
- 0.5 oz of black pepper simple syrup
- 0.5 oz of fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp fish sauce
- Cracked black pepper as garnish
Fill your cocktail shaker with ice, and shake all of the ingredients until chilled. Strain into a chilled glass (coupe glass is preferred) and garnish.
Salty drinks such as the Margarita, the Caesar, and the Bloody Mary are among the world's most common salty cocktails. However, de Vine Genever, BC, has the Genaesar, which may win in the flavor department; it contains smoked salt and Worcestershire sauce!
- 2 oz of de Vine Genever
- 1 generous spoonful of horseradish
- 5 dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
- 7 drops of celery bitters
- Caesar cocktail mix
- Smoked salt
In a lime and smoked salt-rimmed tall glass or mason jar filled with ice, add all the ingredients. Stir well and garnish with lime, celery, and a pickle. Keep stirring while sipping to keep the drink well-mixed while enjoying it.
#5. The Ruby
Compass Distillery in Nova Scotia is the brainchild behind this salty cocktail which takes all the citrus notes and kicks them up a few notches. The balance of peppery saltiness and sweet citrus tones makes The Ruby a favorite.
- 1 oz of Compass Gin
- 1 oz of Tio Pepe Fino Sherry
- .5 oz of Citron Syrup (Grapefruit)
- 1.5 oz of fresh ruby grapefruit juice
- Many dashes of grapefruit and hop bitters
- Grapefruit salt
- Dehydrated grapefruit wheel as a garnish
Rim a coupe glass with the grapefruit salt. Fill your cocktail shaker with ice. Add the ingredients, and shake well. Strain the contents into the glass, garnish, serve and enjoy!
Don't be salty, have a salty cocktail instead!
The versatile nature of salt makes it one of the best ways to create cocktails with intense flavors. Using it as a garnish is one thing; using it as part of the recipe takes these and many other drinks to a new enjoyment level. So don't pass on it with your next cocktail creating!