A Cocktail Worth Its Salt.
A pinch of salt can greatly enhance the flavor of a cocktail. In today’s booming cocktail culture, bartenders are incorporating salt in various forms to heighten and enhance delicate flavors in their libations. In contemporary bars across the country you shouldn’t be surprised to see a bottle of saline solution alongside the simple syrup.
Salt is the Answer
Salt has the ability to brighten both sweet and sour flavors. It reduces bitter tastes making it a great balancing tool. Salt activates the taste buds, jump-starting the back of your palate and causing you to experience flavors more intensely, enticing the drinker to keep sipping. By making and using a salt solution instead of a salt rim, bartenders can make sure each sip of a cocktail tastes the same. This offers that contrast of sweet and salty in a consistent way.
There is a whole faction of cocktails that call for the inclusion of egg whites, anything in the sour, flip, or fizz family relies on egg whites for their velvety texture and mouthfeel. As anyone who has ever tried to make a meringue knows, egg whites need a little help to stabilize their proteins and maintain their structure. A little salt does an excellent job of this. Splash a small amount into your flip or fizz right before shaking the heck out of it and you’ve got a wonderfully stabilized cocktail that should be able to keep its foamy texture for longer. This is just another reason to add a little of our favorite mineral to any cocktail.
Our 3 Favorites
Salt is obviously a helpful ingredient behind the bar, but there are certain tried and true ways of incorporating it into your drinks that really help it perform in the best possible way.
These are our three favorite ways to salt your drinks:
Simply add a pinch of salt to any cocktail before shaking it. You can use anything from your local grocery store, from Diamond Kosher to some of the fancier salts like Maldon or Fleur de Sel. If you’re feeling really adventurous try the bartender’s favorite Sal de Gusano. This Mexican salt is flavored with smoked chilies and ground up agave worms, translating literally to (worm salt).
Every Problem has a Solution
The saline solution method, as mentioned above, is simple and favored by many bartenders for the same reason they love simple syrup, ease of incorporation. Most cocktails are shaken cold with ice and getting both sugar and salt to dissolve completely can be a bit of an issue. This makes syrups and saline solutions ideal as they are already dissolved and at room temperature. This makes it much easier for them to subsume into your libation.
You can make your own saline solution with one part salt to 5 parts water, still or sparkling. Some prefer the sparkling for its mineral finish, but plain water is also used by many across the country. Store saline solution in an airtight glass bottle in a cool, dry place to prevent crystallization.
Our third and final method for incorporating salt into your drinks is to make your own salted liqueur. It’s most certainly a more time-consuming approach than a pinch of salt or a saline solution but it is also the most interesting taste-wise. It provides the opportunity to get creative with your flavors and you can also serve the finished liqueur on its own to be sipped and savored neat, or try drizzling it over a scoop of ice cream or a slice of cake.
These three methods are a great jumping off point. Try experimenting with a little salt in all your favorite cocktails to see how they are affected, tasting frequently is not only a pleasure but a requirement!