Salt is used in cocktails as a garnish, rimming the edge of the glass in some cocktails and also to attenuate bitterness or sweetness when flavoring drinks. The most commonly used types of salt in bartending are kosher and sea salt, because of their larger grain size.
On occasion, a salt lick is used; this being a piece of rock salt large enough to hold comfortably (about the size of a teaspoon), usually with a flat side; it is licked before taking a sip/shot in order to impart a salty flavour and thus alter the taste of the drink.
It is customary in some circles to apply table salt to the back of one's hand for licking before taking a shot of tequila. Tequila connoisseurs tend to frown on this practice, relegating it as a 'move of desperation' when drinking poor quality tequila.
Rimming a glass with salt
- Wet the outside rim of the glass with a fresh lemon or lime wedge.
- Use kosher salt (never iodized salt). Kosher salt has large flakes which won't dissolve while iodized salt will simply dissolve.
- Fill a saucer or bowl with salt.
- Hold the glass parallel to the table.
- Dab the rim into the salt while slowly turning the glass so that only the outer edge is covered.
- Shake off any excess salt over a sink or wastebasket.