Rimming glasses with salt, sugar, or spices provides an easy but impressive way to jazz up a cocktail with an easy but extra-special touch.
Basically, you want to adhere a little extra flavor around the rim of the glass, so with each sip, the drink mingles with a little extra salt or sugar as it hits the tongue – ingredients that otherwise would dissolve in the glass. As a garnish, a glass rim also provides a stunning visual addition.
Here’s how to do it:
Choose an ingredient to rim the glass. Salt and sugar are the most popular single ingredients for rimming cocktail glasses, but really, your imagination is the only limit.
For Margaritas, micheladas, or other drinks that would benefit from a touch of extra salt, consider mixing equal parts salt and finely-ground pepper; salt and spices like chipotle powder, or experimenting with different salts like smoked salt or pink Himalayan salt.
For dessert-like drinks, try sweet elements like colored or specialty sparkle sugars, granulated sugar mixed with cocoa powder or cinnamon, or finely crumbled cookies. Mavericks might also want to experiment with Pop Rocks, pulverized Red Hots, or sour candy dust mix!
Select an ingredient to adhere the salt/sugar/mix to the rim. To adhere salt, sugar, etc. to glasses, I prefer to use a splash of a liqueur used in the cocktail, so it doesn’t interfere with the effect of the drink. But any liquid that moistens the rim will do.
Some bartenders like to rub a wedge of lime, lemon or orange around the rim; others prefer to dip the edge in simple syrup, agave syrup, or even honey or grenadine.
The rimming technique: Set two plates or shallow glasses side by side. In the first plate, pour a tablespoon or two of liqueur. In the second plate, pour or mix up your spices/salt/sugar (a tablespoon or two will rim a couple of drinks).
Invert the glass into the liqueur, to just coat the glass rim, then lift it up and set it down into the spice mix (alternatively, gently roll the outside edge of the glass in the spice mix). Lift it out, and set it right-side up to dry.
You can also do this ahead of time and carefully set glasses in the refrigerator or freezer to chill.
This technique works best with cocktails that are made in a cocktail shaker; you can then strain them into your rimmed glass without disturbing your handiwork.