A shimmering crust of salt or sugar makes your cocktail glasses look like they were prepped by a pro. A frosted rim also improves the flavor of the drink, when used correctly. While margaritas are the drink most traditionally dressed up this way, experimenting with salted or sugared rims may help you discover a tasty new cocktail recipe.
Start with two plates or wide bowls that are wide enough to fit a glass inside and with enough lip to keep liquid in place. Pour about 1/2 inch of liquid into one plate. Use water, simple syrup or the same liquor or juice used in the cocktail. Pour kosher salt or sugar onto the second plate; granulated, brown or confectioners’ sugar all work. Liquor stores also sell colored and flavored sugars and salts.
One way to rim a glass is to turn the glass upside down and dunk the rim first in the liquid and then in the sugar or salt. This method will leave some sugar or salt on both the outside and inside of the glass rim, and whatever substance clings to the inside of the rim will melt into your drink and affect the flavor. To avoid that, hold the glass sideways and roll just the outside of the rim through the liquid and the sugar or salt. Alternately, skip the first plate and wet glass rims using a wedge of any citrus fruit. Let the glasses dry for a few minutes before adding the cocktail.