How to rim a glass

Some cocktail recipes, like margaritas, call for you to rim the glass with salt or sugar. You should also feel free to add rims to cocktail recipes that don’t call for them – this can put an exciting twist on standard recipes.

How to rim a margarita or cocktail glass

There are a couple of ways to rim a cocktail glass, but the basic steps are always the same:

  1. Moisten the rim.
  2. Turn the glass upside down and dip it.
  3. Some bartenders recommend twisting the glass to get more stuff on the rim; some advise not. Try it both ways to see what works for you. Generally, not twisting will result in less stuff on the rim, but that might be a good thing. And it depends on the texture of whatever you’re using to rim glasses.

Tips and Techniques

There are a couple of things you need to prepare before you can start rimming glasses.

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  • The rimming saucer: Pour your sugar, salt or whatever you’re rimming glasses with on a saucer or plate. Use plenty to make sure the rim gets covered, and make sure the circle of powder is bigger in diameter than the rim of your glass.
  • What kind of salt/sugar? For salt, you want coarse sea salt or kosher salt – almost anything other than table salt, which doesn’t have the right texture for rimming glasses. For sugar, plain white or brown sugar works fine, and powdered/confectioner sugar will, too.
  • The moistener: if citrus flavors fit the cocktail you’re making, use a wedge of lime, lemon or orange to rim the glass. If not, use a clean sponge dipped in one of the ingredients from the drink – preferably a liqueur, so it’ll be sticky. Alternatively, you can also pour simple syrup onto another saucer and dip the glass in that.

Now you’re ready to rim!

  1. Moisten the rim. Whether you’re using citrus or a sponge dipped in liqueur, rub it along the glass at a slow steady pace to make it even. If any pulp or seeds get on the rim, remove them. If you’re using simple syrup on a saucer, just dip the glass once without twisting to get proper coverage.
  2. Dip the glass. Turn it upside down and dip it in the powder firmly, as if the glass rim has ink on it and you’re trying to stamp a perfect circle in your sugar or salt.
  3. The twist? Most bartenders twist the glass. I find this leads to an uneven rim. Just stamping it in and pulling it back up yields a very even rim. If you do twist it, do it slowly, and shake off the excess when you’re done.


Here’s where it gets fun. You are not limited to salt and sugar for rimming! You can rim glasses with anything powdered. The possibilities are pretty much endless. Your only inhibition is making sure the flavoring of the rim goes well with the flavor of the cocktail. Here are some suggestions:

  • Cocoa. Perfect for chocolate martinis.
  • Cinnamon-sugar. Delicious with lots of cocktails – consider ones that use Kahlua, Bailey’s, orange or chocolate liqueurs.
  • Spicy Rim #1. Mix 1 part coarse salt with one part chili powder (cayenne, chipotle, etc.) for a fantastic hot & spicy rim.
  • Spicy Rim #2. Mix equal parts coarse salt, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder.
  • Celery Salt. Great for Bloody Marys.
  • Crushed candy or cookies. Basically, anything you can powder can be used as a rim.
  • Crushed graham crackers. Works on pretty much any drink that’s good with a sugar rim. Wonderful with Sidecars.
  • Ginger. Mix equal parts sugar and powdered ginger.
  • Powdered drink mixes. Not every powdered drink mix is the right texture for sticking to the glass, but you can usually work around that by moistening the glass differently – for example, simple syrup may work better on really fine powders than citrus. A powdered mint hot chocolate mix makes a Chocolate Mint rimmer for Grasshoppers. Kool-Aid mixes can be great for fruity drinks.


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