Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Salt Your Cocktail

{via Booze Nerds}

Any baker worth his salt (sorry, couldn't help it!) will tell you that adding salt to sweets is one of the most basic elements of baking.

If you can actually taste the salt--with the exception of purposely salty confections, like salted caramel anything--you've added too much. The goal is to add just enough salt that you can't actually taste it, but that it manages to accentuate the existing flavor notes and heighten the nuances.

The delightfully inventive people over at Booze Nerds ingeniously applied this concept to cocktails:
"We first found out about salt in cocktails at an Irish whiskey tasting. The host said that mixing with Irish whiskey is challenging because it’s a subtle spirit, however he felt salt could help accentuate the flavors of the whiskey in drinks. Naturally, we were intrigued and started noodling with salt in drinks when we got home."
I was doubly intrigued when I saw that their test cocktail, The Spaniard in the Rye, used WhistlePig Rye, which we happen to be doing a joint event with next Monday at Ward III.
"The Spaniard in the Rye We first mixed up The Spaniard in the Rye, a cocktail that we developed a while ago that calls for a bit of salt to brighten the flavors of the drink.

  • 1 1/2 oz Spanish brandy
  • 3/4 oz rye
  • 1/4 oz Cointreau
  • Tiny pinch of salt
Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass. 
No Salt:
  • Nose: Raisins, figs, candied orange peel, little bit of rye, clove and black licorice.
  • Palate: Sweet orange at the front, supported by strong rye spiciness. Dried fruit and nutmeg (kind of like fruit cake) along with sweet sherry notes on the mid-palate. A bit more rye spice on the close, but a somewhat flat finish. Probably why we added salt to this recipe when we were putting it together.
  • Nose: Pretty much identical to the no salt version with maybe a little bit less of the raisin notes.
  • Palate: Semi-sweet, almost pickled orange at the front, kind of like chutney. More orange, bitter chocolate and black pepper on the mid-palate, less fruit cake notes. The raisin-y dried fruit is still there, just more subtle. Perks up the finish with more spice, barrel, and orange notes. Has a slightly smoother mouth feel. Overall, more of the complex flavors pop, and all of the flavors are a little bit brighter. Shaun felt it was less bitter and a bit sweeter than the one without salt, whereas Christa felt the opposite, that it was slightly more bitter and less sweet."
With the exception of Spanish Brandy (which I'm sure is easy to come by), I have all of these ingredients at home, so I'll definitely be testing it out, both with and without salt. 

For more innovative cocktails that use salt to enhance flavor, including the Ritz Sidecar--which, with Ritz being my family name, I'll definitely be testing out as well--check out the rest of Booze Nerds post, Salt

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