Cocktails – To Rim or Not to Rim and How

Sandy Toes Cocktail Rim

To rim or not to rim – that is the question.  Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the… slings and… vodka…sugar…arrows of…salt – ok, before I plummet completely off-track and torture you with lines upon lines of The Bard, I’ll get back to the point. Rimming cocktails.  The rim is often considered the butter on the bread, the cinnamon on the graham cracker, the bacon sprinkled atop the donut. The rim is ofttimes our first contact with the glass (unless you are using a straw), and while not all cocktails actually need to be rimmed (remember the straw), depending upon the cocktail, sometimes an un-rimmed cocktail is equivalent to an unfrosted cake.

I, personally, love rims on cocktails. The rim is often a compliment to the cocktail itself, or it’s a stark contrast. Opposites! I love opposites that attract – sweet and spicy, spicy and savory, sweet and salty, or sweet and sour, to name a few. In a cocktail, these opposites may provide a balance between two otherwise completely separate types. Rimming a cocktail can also provide that balance.

I had the best rim on a cocktail while visiting the Big Island of Hawaii with my significant other, Anthony.  On a walk near our hotel, we stumbled upon an adorable little beach club bar/restaurant called Lava Lava Beach Club that quite literally plopped itself onto part of the beach. Diners could not only sit inside the restaurant or on the patio, but they could also sun themselves on the beach while sipping drinks and dining. Small tables and chairs and umbrellas in the sand dotted the sandy landscape at the foot of the restaurant, and gentle music flowed from a small local band on the beach.  With a gentle breeze wafting in, the experience was pleasant and relaxing for both of us.

Sandy Toes Cocktail RimI eagerly perused the Drink Menu and my eyes were instantly drawn to The Sandy Toes – a Bombay Sapphire Gin (my favorite gin) cocktail with muddled sage and blueberries, St Germaine Elderflower Liquor, a lemon wedge, and a salt and pepper rim that resembled sand on a beach. What impressed me about this precious pink drink was the beachy looking rim. Not only was the flavor combination of the salt and pepper balanced nicely with the savory, flowery, and sweet contents of the cocktail, the sandy look was reminiscent of the beach that lay before us. The combination was visually stunning and deliciously balanced. Genius!

While I have been experimenting with my own cocktails at home, I’ve decided it is time to tackle the art of the rimmed cocktail. Most recently I created a drink I dubbed The Wahine Picante, in other words, The Spicy Gal. Now that the drink has been created, tested, and loved by me, I want to choose the best rim possible to enjoy the drink to its fullest. The drink itself is a combination of jalapeño-infused tequila, pineapple juice, simple syrup, and lime. It’s sweet with a hint of spicy.  So, spicy rim? Sweet rim? I’m still deciding, and I am open to suggestion!

Rimming, overall, is quite easy.  You just need a plate or saucer, a glass, a powder mixture like sea salt or kosher salt (not table salt) or sugar, and something to moisten the glass. If you choose to moisten with a lime, a simple way to rim is to moisten the rim of the glass with the lime, dip or twist the glass into powdered mixture (be sure piles on plate are larger than the circumference of the glass) and voila – rimmed glass!

In the meantime, I am learning all I can about salting and sugaring a cocktail rim.  Here are some fantastic links I have found:

I also found a great video on The Savory’s youtube channel:

Learning how to rim is only the first step. You also need to learn what to rim your glass with! Salt? Sugar? Almost any powder will do – from sugar to salt to cocoa to steak rubs to kool-aid.  Choose the right flavor combination to either balance or compliment your drink.  Researching salt rims, I found some links with wonderful recipes and tips on how to prepare salt mixes and more!

And if you want to be uber decadent the Chocolate-Ginger Martini with a Cayenne-Spiked Rim on the Food and Style Website sounds and looks freaking awesome!

I’m planning to start with citrus/salt mixtures, and I’ll let you all know how they turn out.



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