Salty Cocktails

Head to Cure Bar, New Orleans and The Violet Hour, Chicago and The Alembic Bar, San Francisco

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Salt in restaurant food is receiving a drubbing these days.

In the cocktail world, though, salt is not exiting the bar or restaurant–it's leaping into the drinks themselves.

Kirk Estopinal of New Orleans's Cure stumbled on a chapter about salt's dampening effect on bitterness and sweetness while reading French scientist Hervé This's Molecular Gastronomy. So Estopinal–a fan of bitter liqueurs and spirits–added salt to a drink created by his friend Stephen Cole of Chicago's Violet Hour.

Cole's original drink, Bitter Giuseppe, was made with Cynar, Carpano Antica vermouth and orange bitters and was akin to "a Manhattan without the whiskey base," notes Estopinal. In his sequel, the Search for Delicious (pictured; click here to download the recipe), he substitutes Punt y Mes for the Carpano and includes two small pinches of salt to temper the bitterness of the Cynar.

At The Alembic Bar in San Francisco, bar manager Daniel Hyatt has no tolerance for salted rims: "If I wanted guests to have a mouthful of salt, I'd give them a spoon." But he capitalizes on his restaurant-kitchen background by salting drinks that feature citrus and bitters, as with his Golden Spike, assembled from Tennessee whiskey, yuzu, honey and Chinese hot mustard.

Careful salting is also catching on with other members of The Alembic's staff: Bartender Tim Zohn recently layered a pousse-café that included absinthe, Arakù and a sodium chloride-laced base of Small Hand Foods' grenadine.

Take that, flavor police.