How A Pinch Of Salt Transforms Amari Cocktails

Sweet or savory, there's a cocktail out there for everyone. Regardless of your preference, you might be surprised to learn that most boozy beverages can benefit from the addition of one humble ingredient that can be found on kitchen tables across the nation — that's right, we're talking about salt. But, gone are the days when the seasoning's sole purpose was simply to garnish a margarita glass. Now, many mixologists have started experimenting with salt, mixing the element directly into tipples. A delicate balancing act, a pinch of salt might be the secret to transforming multi-faceted cocktails that are crafted with amari.

From the Italian word meaning "bitter", an amaro is a liqueur flavored with herbs and botanicals. Many iterations of the amaro exist including Cynar, Bràulio, Fernet-Branca, and Aperol to name a few. While Sauce Magazine reports that amari is typically sipped after a meal to help with digestion, they can also be stirred and shaken into an array of stunning cocktails. Far from just adding a bittersweet element, amari delivers a rich and funky herbaceousness that can provide another dimension of flavor and sometimes even texture, depending on the amaro. 

However, what if there was a way to further highlight the complexity of an amaro-based cocktail and make the bittersweet beverage all the better? Some say that the answer could be as simple as finding inspiration from a shaker of salt, for this unique reason.

Salt dims bitterness, while accentuating sweet and sour flavors

Salt plays a pretty important role in our perception of taste, not only when we eat, but when we drink. Along with heightening our sense of smell, Mental Floss shares that the presence of salt in a cocktail can even increase saliva production, making textures appear more full-bodied and rich. Additionally, salt can do some pretty unique things in terms of enhancing flavor, as well.

Although we know that bitterness can counteract sweetness, sometimes even bitter flavors can be too overwhelming. To dull bitterness, Punch explains that when used in small doses, salt has the power to lower our sensation of bitterness, intensifying sweet and sour tastes in exchange. This is particularly important in the case of amari cocktails as mouth-puckering astringency can often cloud the herbal liqueur's immense intricacy. However, by muting an amaro's bitterness with a sprinkle of something salty, Epicurious explains that an amaro's delicate nuanced flavors and aromas can be expressed entirely, resulting in a more well-rounded cocktail.

Wondering how to best incorporate salt into an amaro-driven cocktail? Although you can stir a pinch into a cocktail before stirring, Saveur explains that you could also work with a few drops of saline solution or directly salt one of the cocktails' main components. Whether you opt for flakes of fleur de sel or rosy Himalayan salt, smoke-infused granules, or flavored salts, it's important to use salt sparingly for the best results. Sprinkle away!