Salted Sips: 8 Salty Cocktails to Shake Up Your Routine

Mixologists are always adding ever-more-exotic ingredients to their bar pantries, but sometimes it’s the most common component that can make the biggest impact — even when it’s not commonly found in every cocktail. The perfect example is salt, which can bring balance or incorporate a sharp bite to a cocktail. From rims of every color and syrups to foam and stock, salt is showing up in surprising ways. These eight salty cocktails feature sodium in a variety of creative manners.

Funky Chicken at Arbella, Chicago, Illinois
This cocktail is a quadruple threat as it boasts sweet, salty, spicy, and sour notes. The drink is made with rye, lemon puree, and beer, but it’s the rim that brings it all together. That’s because it’s dusted with Mexican Tajin seasoning, a lip puckering, tongue tingling mixture of chilies, lime juice, and sea salt. Make a reservation at Arbella.

salty cocktails

Jumping Cholla at Madison, San Diego, California
Bar manager Danny Kuehner aims to evoke the flavors of a barbecue with the summery sipper. Its Mexican-minded ingredient list includes with mezcal, pineapple juice, lime juice, and fresh jalapeño. A cloud of egg whites dusted with black lava salt floats on top, giving the cocktail a creamy texture. Make a reservation at Madison.

Salty Cocktails

Shicigosan at Tanuki, Miami Beach, Florida
Salted banana puree is the backbone of this trendsetting tipple. It’s complemented with fat-washed butter popcorn Brugal Anejo rum, chrysanthemum tea, Shochu, and freshly squeezed lime juice (we bet you’ve never had that flavor combination before). The garnish game is on point, featuring an edible flower, popcorn, and a bamboo leaf. Make a reservation at Tanuki.

Salty Cocktails

Ponche de Champagne at Boleo, Chicago, Illinois
We’re totally down with any cocktail served in a repurposed fox-shaped cookie jar with bendy straws. Salt-roasted plantain syrup balances out this punch featuring notes of banana, passion fruit, star anise, and cinnamon. A bottle-strong Champagne float brings a bounty of bubbles to the party. Make a reservation at Boleo.

Salty Cocktails

Cucumber Mint at Grayson Social, Dallas, Texas
This cocktail reminds us of a drunken pickle. Fortified with blanco tequila and chartreuse, it gets a fresh edge from mint syrup, cucumber, and fresh lime juice. A shake of salt adds a touch of salinity and depth. Make a reservation at Grayson Social.

Salty Cocktails

Salt Air Margarita at Oyamel, Washington, D.C.
Sea foam inspired the fluffy cloud of “salt air” floating on top of this margarita as a stand-in for the usual salted rim. The cocktail is chef José Andrés’ personal favorite, featuring Milagro blanco tequila, Combier L’Original triple sec, and fresh lime juice. They go down smooth and easy, so don’t say we didn’t warn you. Make a reservation at Oyamel.

Salty Cocktails

Chicken Soup Hot Toddy at Jimmy at The James, New York, New York
Finally, you can shake a cold off and get your drink on simultaneously. Salt-rich chicken stock is the defining flavor in this soupy sipper, which gets a boozy boost from Nolet’s gin. Carrot, celery, and parsley complete the cocktail, helping you get your daily dose of veggies in the process. Make a reservation at Jimmy at the James.

Salty Cocktails

Stolen Vespa at Coda di Volpe, Chicago, Illinois
Imagine the margarita as a Southern Italian cocktail and you have the Stolen Vespa. A blend of finely ground dehydrated Sicilian black olives and sea salt on the rim adds a briny bite. This helps cut through the bitterness of the drink made with Milagro blanco tequila, Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, grapefruit, and red vermouth. Make a reservation at Coda di Volpe.

Salty Cocktails

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Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell

Photo credits: David Szymanksi (Boleo). All photos courtesy of the restaurants.