Salt is food’s most important seasoning, bringing components together and enhancing flavors to create something greater than the sum of the constituent parts. The same principle applies to drinks, and it plays a bigger role than simply rimming a Margarita with salt. In the hands of skillful bartenders, salt is taking its rightful spot as a versatile cocktail ingredient, acting as the glue that gives an otherwise disjointed drink synergy.
Allison Lindsey will add just a drop of saline water to see how it changes the balance of her cocktails, submitting that the trial-and-error process definitely requires a light hand. “Making cocktails is a lot like making food,” says the head bartender at Baltimore’s Bar Vasquez. “With salt, you have to be very judicious with how much you use.” So when she’s juicing cucumbers for the Busy Bee, she starts with no more than a teaspoon or so of sea salt per quart.
This Bee’s Knees riff features Ransom Old Tom gin, honey, fresh lemon juice and salted cucumber juice, plus a rosemary garnish. “You have your sweet, your bitter, your salty and the aromatics,” she says. “It makes a great well-balanced cocktail and something a little unexpected.”
2 ounces Ransom Old Tom gin
1/2 ounce salted cucumber juice*
1/2 ounce honey
1/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Garnish: rosemary sprig
Add the gin, salted cucumber juice, honey and lemon juice into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with a rosemary sprig.
*Salted cucumber juice: Using a juicer, juice peeled cucumbers to yield 1 quart. Strain juice to remove any pulp, and add 1 to 1 1/2 tsp sea salt to add flavor and preserve the juice. Store the mixture in the refrigerator.