Here's a quick description of one way to rim your cocktail glasses. Scroll down the page to discover: notes on different liquids you can use; interesting ingredients for rimming your glass to enhance your cocktails; variations on technique; as well as some recipes we have on hand that might inspire.
But first, here's how to get started.
• Prep your glass in advance so the ingredients can dry and adhere properly
• Allow the salt rim to set for about 10-15 minutes
• Tidy the salt rim after setting
• Be careful not to splash the salted rim when adding your drink
• Avoid using iodized salt, as it tends to be too strong for salting rims
• If using notched citrus wedge method, avoid over wetting
Beyond using just water, lemon and lime citrus juice are the go-to liquids rimming cocktail glasses. Remember that the citrus family extends beyond lemon and lime. Consider trying orange for a sweeter slant, or grapefruit for something tangier.
Kiwi can yield a similar amount of juice and can provide an exotic slightly strawberry-esque taste. What about watermelon? Or try cranberry juice to add tart tones. Apple juice can lean your drink in an autumn direction. Pineapple can give tropical and sweet-summer overtones.
The most basic simple syrup is sugar and water in a one-to-one ratio heated until dissolved. But variations on simple syrups are endless as this basic solution can be infused with a variety spices and herbs even tilting the inherently sweet flavor in a savory direction.
Honey is sometimes used in sweet cocktails, as is agave, or maple syrup for a richer sweetness. These sticker substances will often be diluted in water before use, making them analogous to simple syrups in consistency and constitution. Really sticky rims can be tricky and can overpower the drink experience in flavor and texture.
Complement Not Compete
Sometimes mixologists will do contrasting flavors on rims that will accent the drink rather than underscoring or reinforcing it—but don't use clashing flavors for the sake of variance. Try for a theme and stay understated in flavor profile. Even if the presentation of the rim is ornate, taste-wise the star of the show is still the cocktail.
Starting with the obvious, high-quality sea salts are a classic on rims for classic cocktails—margaritas, micheladas, salty dogs, etc. Don't use common iodized table salt, it's too strong and will easily overpower your drink. Instead, flaked sea salts work well in adding crunchy texture as well as a briny tang to your concoction. Think Maldon flakes, or even the gourmet Fleur de Sel. Other coarse grain salts also can add interesting visual pop: think Kosher Salt, Pink Himalayan Salts, or French Grey Salts. Alternatively, try smoked sea salts to add some subtle complexity. Below we have some suggestions for ingredients you can use in salt infusions which will also provide flavor notes—as well as sometimes attractive texture—to your cocktail creations.
Earlier we mentioned juices and other sweet sticky substances that might be used to adhere ingredients to the rim of your cocktails but for more candied concoctions, a rim with actual sugar can be employed. Chunky granular sugars work wonders in creating visual and textural appeal. Think turbinado or demerara sugar, though finer brown sugar works in some instances too. Colored sugars make fun accents, and some folks even use candied sprinkles for festive, whimsical displays. Like salts, sugars can also be infused to create more exotic and subtle flavor notes.
Rose petals or lavender buds can be used in salt or sugar infusions. Bits of flower stuck to the side of your glass along with the snow-white crystals of either sugar or salt make a delicate and elegant presentation. Though they won't add visual distinction, citrus powders made from blitzing dried orange or lemon peels in a food processer can also be mixed, or infused, into salts and sugars to add unexpected tang to cocktail rims.
For quick heat, bright flavor notes and visual pop, cayenne chile pepper can be mixed into your sea salt selection. Or try chipotle chile pepper for a similar heat, but a richer smokier flavor profile. Another bright red complement is pink peppercorn, which has a heat and flavor more akin to capsicum peppers than to actual black peppercorn (this isn't really a surprise, pink peppercorn and black peppercorn aren't related). Cracked black peppercorn mixed with salt can also deliver heat, but with a bit more bite than the peppers mentioned previously.
Another classic warming spice which is often employed in sugared cocktail glass rims is ground cinnamon. This can be on its own, or mixed with more pungent spices like nutmeg, cloves, or even more pungent ginger. Using pumpkin pie spice would definitely tinge your concoction with a taste of fall.
As the winter months wear on, you might try cacao powder and sugar mixes, to add a bittersweet chocolatey accent to the rim of your cocktail.
Cookie Cutter Method
Some folks aren't particular about their salted rims extending to the inside of their glasses and prefer the easier method of inverting their glass entirely into the saucerful of salt and rotate back-and-forth as one would do with a cookie cutter.
Notched Fruit Method
Some have learned with time and experience how to apply the right amount of pressure and persistence in using a notched citrus wedge to rub the circumference of the glass and thus don't use a second saucer for liquid.
Serious cocktail makers, or perhaps instead, serious gadget geeks can purchase rimming kits that are much like the make shift saucers we outline above in nature, but can have many shelves that can house different ingredients. If you do use one of these, be sure to keep the ingredients fresh and rotate out anything that might have gotten too clumpy.
The following spices are sample ingredient suggestions for inspiration. Let us know what spices you mixed in with your salts (or sugars) and what worked best. Keep in mind we sell most of our spices in 'try me' sample sizes for 75¢ each so you don't have to commit to a jar of something exotic you might not use every day.