Brine Freeze

Local bartenders are going granular with a kitchen’s best friend: salt.

salt cocktails boston

Photograph by Bruce Peterson

Once relegated to playing Tchotchke #5 on a bloody mary rim, salt is finally getting its big break, as publicans think beyond bitters, booze, and a twist. Bartenders are now seeking out the mineral for its ability to amplify sweetness and mask bitterness. Here, five sodium-tinged cocktails—not named the margarita—that will have you rethinking salt’s quaffability.

“Honey, I Choked the Kids”

Ames Street Deli

Named after its herbaceous foundation—honey–passion fruit syrup, gin, and Cynar, an artichoke liqueur—this libation (above) from general manager Sam Treadway is elevated with a pinch of salt. “I’m always trying to figure out how to hit all parts of the palate,” he says. “It can be sweet, salty, and umami.” 73 Ames St., Cambridge, 617-374-0701,

salt cocktails boston

“Smoking the Hive”

The Sinclair

Created as a blackboard special last fall, Keven Halopoff’s homage to smoke—mezcal, 10-year-old Laphroaig scotch, local honey smoked over oak chips, and smoked sea salt—has quickly become the Sinclair’s bestselling libation. 52 Church St., Cambridge, 617-547-5200,

salt cocktails boston

“Improved Jasmine Cocktail”

The Barmobile

“Bar geeks often say salt ‘opens up the palate,’ which just means it opens up your taste buds so you begin to salivate,” says the Barmobile’s Kevin Mabry. His cocktail-laden Airstream—which makes appearances at private events across the city—features a number of saline-enhanced drinks, including the “Improved Jasmine,” a blend of gin, lemon juice, Campari, and Cointreau.

salt cocktails boston

“Salt Washed”

Island Creek Oyster Bar

“A lot of our cocktails are turning on that savory-meets- satisfying craving that moves you toward dinner,” says bar director Jackson Cannon. To whet the collective appetite, Cannon combines gin, lemon juice, cava, and salted celery syrup. 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-532-5300,

salt cocktails boston

“Dirty Martini”

Loyal Nine

Bar manager Bryn Tattan embraces the restaurant’s nose-to-tail ideology by regularly dipping into chef Marc Sheehan’s larder. This dirty martini, for example, incorporates leftover pickling brine and a rim of dehydrated sauerkraut. 660 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-945-2576,


illustrations by the ellaphant in the room