Salty Drinks Are the New Salty Sweets


[Photo: Maggie Hoffman]

As a bartender scattered kosher salt on the top surface of a lemony gin sour at an event recently, a waiting patron gasped. "What is that?" she said. "Sugar?"

Nope. It was salt, and I didn't bat an eye, because lately I've been seeing a ton of salted cocktails coming from the country's top bartenders. And I'm not talking about salt in Bloody Marys or other naturally savory drinks, either—I mean juicy, fresh, slightly-sweet cocktails like classic sours and aperitifs, with a pinch of salt or a few drops of saline solution. Sure, folks have salted the rims of their margaritas forever, but salt has now moved into the cocktail glass.

Prosperitivo ($14)

The Prosperitivo at Demi Monde in NYC has a few drops of saline solution. [Photograph: Alice Gao]

The thinking isn't new here—we've been seeing salted caramels and brownies more and more frequently in the past few years, and there have always been those who insist on a sprinkle of salt on their cantaloupe or watermelon to punch up the flavor. Some suggest that salt balances the bitterness in a solution, thus amping up your perception of sweetness when you taste the combination.

So far, I've especially enjoyed judiciously salted Campari and Aperol drinks, as well as a number of tart grapefruit and lime-based cocktails with a pinch of salt shaken in. Have you tried adding a pinch of salt to your favorite drinks? What did you think?

About the Author: Maggie Hoffman is the editor of Serious Eats: Drinks. You can follow her on Twitter @maggiejane.