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Salt or no salt?

Been reading about the salted rim of a margarita and getting very mixed signals. Some say purists insist on salt because it enhances the flavor of the drink; some say purists insist on the opposite because it merely masks a poorly/cheaply made drink.

I'd thought it was the latter, but now I'm not sure. Expert opinions?

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  1. Does it matter what purists think? Do what you think tastes best. Personally, I like the salt, and I've seen it on very well made drinks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sku

      When I'm drinking it myself? No, it doesn't matter. But as a writer, do I believe you have to know the rules before you break them (or write about them)? Absolutely.

      Granted, the answer may simply be a non-answer: some say yes, some say no, and so it shall ever be.

    2. Try salt mixed with sugar. Just salt is too strong.
      Quote from Good Eats.

      In the words of, famed authoress and wit, Irena Chalmers, "Salt is what makes things taste bad when it's not in them.


      1. I would not be happy to be served a sugar/salt rim at a craft cocktail bar. A properly-mixed Margarita with quality ingredients should be well-balanced for acid without sweetening each sip.

        Experts usually recommend salting one half of the rim, giving the imbiber an option for each sip. Be sure no excess salt falls into the glass.

        www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

        2 Replies
          1. re: EvergreenDan

            I'm a half-rim of salt girl. I like options. Salt really adds another layer to the drink, but it can easily overwhelm the drink if there's too much.

          2. I don't like salt on my Marg, but I'm not much of a salt fan period.

            I also don't use the salt and lime (training wheels) when drinking tequila straight, though it has gone somewhat out of fashion.

            I feel if you use good fresh citrus, decent 100% agave tequila, and good orange liquer, the salt just nukes your taste buds.

            1. I like salt in my margarita. I don't salt the rim but add a dash to the drink. I find it enhances the taste for me and I'm using quality ingredients. No mix

              1 Reply
              1. re: scubadoo97

                I am a fan of salt and usually salt half the rim when making one at home. I recently ordered a margarita at a bar that came to me, incorrectly, with no salt. I thought it would be silly to send it back for such a small reason, but I was quite surprised how much it changed the taste, the experience, and how much I missed it. I imagine I miss a salted rim more at a bar, where margaritas, on average, tend to be much sweeter than how I make them at home.

              2. I'm a no salt on the rim guy, but I had a margarita at a place that makes salt foam to top their margaritas and that was really good.

                theres the recipe for salt foam, sounds like a lot of trouble, but its really good!

                1 Reply
                1. re: twyst

                  I remember seeing Jose Andres on Eric Ripert's show talking about how he would look at the sea foam at the oceans edge day after day and think of how he could incorporate it into a dish and settled on using it on a margarita instead of the salt rim. Cool idea

                2. I totally agree this comes down to preference. It's important to remember that with every classic cocktail, oceans of crappy versions exist, maybe more so with the margarita than any other cocktail. But this also speaks to the veracity of the drink, even the crappy ones are drinkable to the masses. However, for the sake of this conversation, we aren't talking about crappy versions where the choice of salt is 100% a matter of opinion/taste and if you don't like salt, don't even read what I have to say below.

                  That being said, I would argue that salt is a key component in a properly made margarita. Now an exceptional margarita should be balanced without salt--just the right nexus between sweet and sour with obvious Tequila notes. But this isn't a case of addition by subtraction, just good mixology. Now add the proper amount of salt and you gain another layer of complexity to the drink. This brings the savory component in with the sweet and sour and in the proper proportions, brings to the palate a classic contrast.

                  And if "purists," whomever they are, matter to you, which is fine, I would argue most of the mixology world looks to one specific "classic" margarita recipe which includes salt--Julio Bermejo's (RIP) Tommy's Margarita from his family's place, Tommy's, in San Francisco.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ellaystingray

                    Ellaystingray, it was Tommy Bermejo who recently passed away. His son, Julio runs the bar at Tommy's and although the house margarita does have salt as an option, I have heard him counsel against it, especially with a particularly fine or rare tequila.

                    1. re: mrs bacon

                      Bacon, good catch. Never lucky enough to have met either of them but have heard wonderful things. Interesting that the "official" recipe does list salt yet they counsel against dependent on the Tequila...going to have to noodle on this a bit. Thanks for the edit.

                  2. No salt in mine, please. I like to taste the tequila through the other ingredients and I think the salt masks it way too much. If I want salt I'll enjoy some nice chips and guacamole with my drink. And with the long weekend coming up, I think I'll do just that. Cheers!

                    1 Reply
                    1. I put salt in the cocktail, rather than on the rim, where it tends to end up on my brow, which is not preferable.

                      1. I'm somewhere between anal and professional on this one, both being distinctions of pathetic merit. I want a salted rim, and I fastidiously rotate the glass clockwise in small increments as I take sips, so that all is finished simultaneously.

                        and I am very persnickitty about the contents of my margarita. No mix. Rocks only. Other fine print about ins and outs, too boring here.

                        an amusing curiosity to me is salted-rim drinks, served with a straw. ???

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Veggo

                          The salt gets into the drink even if you're using a straw. Some would argue in a more reasonable quantity.

                          But I don't normally drink cocktails from a straw, so that concept is a little silly to me even without a rimmed drink (although I will drink some style of cocktails with a straw, usually when on vacation on an island somewhere).

                          1. re: tommy

                            There are many roads to Mecca. I don't do straws, and I salt ham, too.
                            Cheers to your next island / hammock trip!

                            1. re: Veggo

                              Straws are more preferable for me when there is an umbrella in the cocktail. Otherwise the umbrella sticks you in the eye!