To Salt or Not To Salt

Living in South Texas, arguably the most popular cocktail for tourists and residents alike is the Margarita. And most likely, no matter where you order it, it will come with a salted rim.

Same can be said for the Salty Dog, the Paloma, Bloody Mary, and the ever more popular Ranch Water. My girlfriend takes it up a notch and asks for Tajin instead of salt. (If you don’t know what that Mexican salty spice mix is, ask for it next time you order a drink with a salted rim).

Salt is important in lots of cocktails you would not expect. More on that in a bit. So why use salt? Well, just like in cooking, it can enhance and bring out favorable flavors. Ones you may not notice if you didn’t add salt. It can actually enhance sweetness in some cocktails and balance bitterness in others. Almost any drink with citrus in it can benefit from salt.

And now you can get all sorts of flavored salt for rimming glasses – like black lava salt (great for Mezcal), salt mixed with sugar (great with bourbon) and my girl’s favorite – Tajin.

But on the rim is not the only way to use salt. Actually adding it as an ingredient to many cocktails does the trick. As the craft cocktails trend continues to grow, one way of effectively salting an alcoholic concoction is to use a saline solution with an eye dropper.

Much like simple syrup is the go to rather than adding solid sugar and trying to dissolve it the drink, the same reasoning is being used with a saline solution. Which is simply salt water you make ahead of time. The rule of thumb is a 20% saline solution, which is one part salt to four parts water. Mix well and make sure the salt dissolves completely. And many drinks only need two to five drops of the saline solution to do its magic.

Which cocktails should you use saline solution in? Almost all of them. Experts say that 90% of all cocktails will benefit from a few drops of the solution. Try it!