Cocktail Rimmers: Salt or Sugar?

neil bougourd | 27 May, 2021

The purpose of rimming a cocktail glass is twofold: enhancing the flavour of a drink and for aesthetics.

19th century designer William Morris said that everything should be beautiful and practical. He wasn’t speaking of cocktails, but he as might as well have been.

When you pick up your drink and sip, you get the liquid passing over the rim and blending the flavours in your mouth. Salt is often said to enhance any flavour, and that is very true, but it is important to think about what other flavours compliment the cocktail and what could be added for an extra layer of delicious.

Here are some options for the rim of a cocktail glass: plain salt, smoked salt, plain sugar, celery salt, rose sugar, cinnamon sugar, chilli salt, lemon salt…use can also use ground spices like loomi (dried lime), or cocoa. You can also blend your own salts and sugars to create unique flavours for your signature cocktails.

You need to wet the rim of your glass before you rim it. We often see citrus, either lemon or lime or orange slices used, but again there are many options: simple syrup, hot sauce, honey, an ingredient from the cocktail itself, or water for no additional flavour.

When you are building a cocktail you need to think about balancing: sour, sweet, heat, bitter, and salt.

  • If your cocktail is sweet, then think about adding some sour (lemon juice as your rimming liquid), salt and heat (hot salt) to create a full mouth experience. 
  • If your cocktail is sour, then think about sweet (flavoured sugar). Great for a vodka lime cocktail.

You get the idea.

There are 2 methods for rimming a glass: rolling and dipping. Dipping gets the flavour inside and outside the glass, and rolling gets it on the outside. Some believe that rolling is better so that none of the rimmer falls into the cocktail itself, and you may simply roll half the glass instead of the whole rim.

Check out our saltselection, hot sauces, and sugars to get you started!