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What Does Salt Add to a Margarita?

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Mary Katherine Morris Photography

It doesn’t just look cool on your glass! Salt makes the sweet and sour flavors of a margarita pop. Even a little bit of salt suppresses bitterness, which in turn makes sweetness and sourness seem more intense. However, calling salt a flavor enhancer can be misleading – no clear physiological connection between salt and universal flavor enhancement has been found.

What we do know is that salt seems to boost certain basic tastes by suppressing others. Adding even a pinch of salt to a mixture tamps down its bitterness. Since that bitterness would otherwise be counteracting the drink's sweetness, adding salt enhances the perception of sweet flavors.

On a chemical level, research shows that the sodium ion in the sodium chloride molecule (NaCl) is responsible for dampening bitterness. Interestingly, the reverse is not true - when bitter compounds are added to salty ones, the level of saltiness does not noticeably change.

Furthermore, salt seems to intensify our perception of cocktails’ aromas, making their flavors seem more powerful. Additionally, even tiny amounts of salt increase the flow of saliva, which makes the drinks feel slightly richer and thicker.

Salt is effective at busting bitterness even if it’s present in such small concentrations that you can’t tell it’s there. At these levels, the ingredient has a bonus effect: enhancing sourness. Many bartenders have begun adding a few drops of saline solution to citrusy drinks to enhance or brighten the flavor. But be careful – add too much and the cocktail’s acidity will also be suppressed.

For the beloved margarita, adding a small amount of salt screens out the slight bitterness of the Cointreau or triple sec. At the same time, it also heightens the taste of the lime juice and softens the tequila’s bite.

Hit The Lab

Cocktail history can be contentious, and the margarita’s back story and recipe are no exception. Alhough it first appeared on the cocktail scene in the 1940s, tequila drinks weren’t popular until the 1970s. Since then, hundreds of recipes and variations of the margarita have been published or shaken up in bars around the world. Some have a salted rim, while others call for a few drops of a saline solution. To make a weak saline solution, dissolve one part salt in four parts hot water. Let cool and experiment.

Start small; one or two drops may be enough to produce the desired effect. For a saltier taste, add additional drops until the drink is to your taste.

Margarita

1.5 oz tequila
1 oz Cointreau or triple sec
.75 oz lime juice
.25-.5 oz simple syrup (to taste)

Mix ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake vigorously for 15 - 20 seconds, and strain into a chilled glass. If you prefer, salt the rim of the glass before mixing the cocktail or experiment with adding drops of saline solution.

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New Pop Chart Lab Poster Is a Boozy Blueprint For Making Classic Cocktails
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Pop Chart Lab

Pop Chart Lab's posters combine design with data, and their latest offering—a full breakdown of the ingredients in 60 classic cocktails—is no exception. From the exact ratio of gin and tonic that should go into a G & T (2 ounces and 4 ounces, respectively) to the garnishes you'll need to make a proper Tom Collins (a maraschino cherry and a lemon twist), the 3-foot-by-2-foot "Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" artwork teaches mixology basics you'd typically learn in bartending school, sans tuition fee.

In addition to mainstays like the Negroni and the Whiskey Sour, the poster also includes relatively obscure drinks (ever heard of the Golden Dawn, or the Journalist?), which you can attempt after drinking your way through your favorite concoctions. Before you know it, you'll be explaining to your friends the intricacies of why you should stir martinis instead of shaking them (sorry, James Bond), or the difference between a highball and a Collins glass. Bottoms up!

"Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" costs $37, and is currently available for pre-order. Shipping begins on Friday, October 20, 2017. (To see the poster's details up close, visit Pop Chart Lab's website and click on the diagram.)

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Attention Beer Lovers: A London Brewery Is Hiring a Professional Taste-Tester
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Beer lovers aren’t given many chances to discuss their passion for imbibing at job interviews. But a new open position at London's Meantime Brewing Company lists that expertise as one of the top qualifications. As Fortune reports, the brewery is seeking a professional beer taster to help improve its products.

The brewery’s part-time employee will “join the panel brewers as they taste, discuss, and pass opinion on a range of different beers,” according to the job listing on LinkedIn. On top of steady access to free booze three hours a week, the taster will receive a competitive salary “with beer benefits.” As the description reads: “Yes, this could just be the best job in the world.”

Meantime isn’t just considering any casual beer drinker for the role. Their ideal candidate will have a precise palate that can distinguish “chocolate malt from dark malt” and “Fuggles from Cascade hops.” They will also have an understanding of global consumer markets, a functioning knowledge of English, and an extensive beer vocabulary. The brewery is located in the London borough of Greenwich, so applicants who aren’t local should be willing to relocate.

Founded in 1999, the Meantime Brewing Company made its name on the beer scene with signature beverages like their London Lager, London Pale Ale, and Yakima Red. If you’re interested in joining the team, post 30 words on your LinkedIn profile explaining why you deserve the gig, along with any photos or videos that may help your case, with the hashtag #pickmemeantime. The company will narrow down the pool to three candidates for an in-person beer tasting before deciding their top pick. Meanwhile, you can prepare for the job by brushing up on your beer facts.

[h/t Fortune]

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