You Should Salt Your Summer Beverages
By A.A. Newton
One of summer's greatest pleasures is sipping an icy, refreshing beverage in the sunshine—or the nearest patch of shade. Summery cocktails and punches aplenty are finally ready for their seasonal debut, and just about all of them could do with a bit of salt.
Summer beverages are usually quite sweet, and sweetness needs salt, period. It grounds aggressive flavors, enhances delicate ones, and provides much-needed balance—which can be the difference between sickly-sweet and just-sweet-enough. Add in an unparalleled ability to tame bitterness, and you've got all the reasons you need to start salting your summer beverages. Personally, I've been really digging these four salted treats lately:
Salted Lemonade or Limeade: A scant teaspoon of table salt added to a batch of whole lemonade makes this already-delightful beverage even more refreshing. Toss in a few hunks of seedless cucumber if you like.
Iced Coffee: I got a stovetop espresso maker to better satisfy my iced coffee needs, but since I use Café Bustelo, it's pretty intense for drinking straight-up. My go-to concoction is espresso poured over ice with a healthy splash of toasted cream and the barest pinch of salt to smooth out the sharp edges. We're very happy together.
Bitter Cocktails: A little smooch of salt will temper any overly-strong bitter, herbal, or medicinal notes in your favorite cocktail; the Ferrari and soda is a prime candidate, as are my beloved Negronis and French 75s. It's also a great way to balance large-batch cocktails and boozy punches.
Soda Xi Moi: Thoroughly muddle a pickled plum (umeboshi) with a few tablespoons of sugar, top with ice and club soda, sip all summer long. (Noticeable saltiness is kinda the point here, so if that's not your bag, skip it.)
If the idea of salty lemonade makes you uncomfortable, don't worry: there's no need to make your drinks discernibly salty unless you really want to. Start with a pinch, and add more to taste only if necessary.
Also, before you start salting cocktails left and right, keep in mind that salt helps booze go down real smooth—which can make it easier to overdo things. Take it easy when day-drinking in the sun, friends; there’s no hangover more brutal than one accompanied by a sunburn, especially if it starts at three in the afternoon.