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How to Rim a Glass: 3 Ways! {For Cocktails}

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Learn how to rim a glass 3 ways! This easy technique is the perfect finishing touch for any drink. Decorating cocktails at home is easy with a sugar rim, salt rim or even a graham cracker-coated chocolate rim, no special bartending skills are required!

A salt rimmed cocktail glass on a table with a cocktail.
Once you know how to rim a glass you can get really creative with it!

Learning how to rim a cocktail glass is super easy. And once you know how, you can get super creative and do it whenever you want or need to.

As an at-home drink maker with no interest in becoming a master mixologist, I don’t try to learn all the bartender tricks. But this one is worth knowing.

Whether you’re serving a margarita on the rocks, or want to add a sugar rim to a kid’s drink, it’s a simple technique that will come in handy.

Why Rim a Cocktail Glass

There are many reasons to rim a cocktail glass.

Sometimes it adds to the flavor of a drink. A Tajin rim (with flavors of chili powder, salt and lime) adds the perfect savory accompaniment to my favorite Cucumber Margarita.

And OMG, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried the Pickle Salt from Twang. (They gifted this to try and I will always have it on hand now. SO good!)

Sometimes it looks pretty. A spiced sugar rim, like I used for my Blood Orange Margarita, not only adds flavor but visual interest to the glass.

Related: Easy Cocktail Garnish Ideas to try at home

Sometimes it’s a detail that takes a so-so drink over the top. A Dried Rose Petal Rimmer is a fun way to serve a glass of champagne and make it feel even more party-ready.

Regardless of why you need to rim a glass, I’ll walk you through how to do it.

It usually takes just a minute so it won’t make the drink-making process any longer. And when you serve it to friends, they feel the love!

How to Rim a Glass

There is a basic formula you need to learn for how to rim a glass. But once you understand the very simple process, you can change it up any way you want.

You’ll need something wet to put on the glass to get the seasoning to stick to it. That’s it. Go crazy.

How to Rim a Glass with Sugar

Dipping a martini glass in a plate of water to rim it with sugar.

A sugar rim is there to balance the acidity of a drink. Most garnishes are meant to be both visually appealing and taste good. But, sugar will also help cut through some of the tartness in a cocktail.

A sugar rim works great on a drink like a martini or something with a lot of citruses, like my Lemon Drop Vodka cocktail.

To rim a glass with sugar, you’ll need:

  • Rimming dish (Mercer appetizer dishes shown and work really well!) which should be a shallow plate wider than the rim of the glass
  • A small dish for liquid also wider than the rim
  • Liquid (I used water)
  • Sugar (I used a spiced sugar to demonstrate)

Pour sugar into the small dish. You should add enough sugar to create a pile that’s at least a quarter of an inch thick and wider than the rim of the glass you’ll be using.

Add water to another shallow dish.

Dip the rim of the glass first in the water. Gently shake off excess.

Dipping a martini glass in sugar.

While still wet, dip the rim of the glass into the sugar. You can dip straight down and do the whole rim at once.

Or you can carefully lift one edge of the sugar plate up and tilt it at a 45-degree angle to coat one section and rotate the rim of the glass in the pile, sections at a time.

Gently shake off any excess. Then set the prepared glass aside to dry while you make your cocktail.

Alternately, you can use a fruit slice to rub along the outer edge of the glass to moisten. I’ll show you that method below.

You can also use traditional granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon sugar, or colored sanding sugar. You can even do a mix of salt and sugar if you think it will work well with the cocktail.

How to Rim a Glass with Salt or Tajin

Rubbing a fresh lime on the rim of a cocktail glass for salt or tajin. How to Rim a Cocktail Glass! This post share 3 easy ways to prepare a glass for all kinds of cocktails. With sugar, salt, tajin or even chocolate sauce, this tutorial will show you how!

Decorating the rim of your cocktail glass with salt or tajin is very similar to rimming a glass with sugar. A margarita with salt on the rim is classic but it’s also a good option for other tart or savory drinks like Bloody Marys.

The tart lime juice and smoky Tajin is a match made in heaven!

To make a salt rim, you’ll need:

  • Rimming dish or plate
  • Liquid (I used lime juice)
  • Kosher salt or Tajin (I’m using Tajin)

*Note: Kosher salt is the best salt for a margarita rim because it is coarse (larger granules) and won’t dissolve as quickly as table salt.

Fill your rimming dish with Tajin. As you can see from the photos, you don’t need to fill the whole plate, you can make a small-ish pile. Or buy the Tajin rimming container.

Wet the rim of the glass by rubbing a wedge of lime around the rim of the glass. I usually just take a wedge of lime and use a knife to cut a little slit in the fruit to slide over the rim.

Although, at restaurants, I’ve seen bartenders just lay slices of lime on a plate and set the rim down on top and spin. There’s really no wrong way to do this.

Rolling the cocktail glass in tajin.

With the rim wet with lime juice, dip it into the Tajin and twist the glass to coat all the way around.

Slightly angle your glass and dab it into the salt to coat the outer rim. Gently shake off any excess.

Allow the liquid to dry for a few minutes, then carefully pour your cocktail into the glass.

It is the same process for rimming a glass with salt. Just place the salt onto a small plate instead of Tajin. Or mix them!

How to Rim a Martini Glass with Chocolate

Dipping the edge of a cocktail glass in chocolate syrup.

Garnishing the rim of your martini glass with chocolate is a great way to add flavor to a sweet drink. This type of rim is great with Kahlua-based drinks or any with coffee or chocolate flavors.

As you can see from the photos, I didn’t use a martini glass for this one, but the process is the same no matter way glass you use.

To rim a martini glass with chocolate, you’ll need:

  • A layer of chocolate in a small shallow dish
  • You can stop there or add something extra to the chocolate like crushed graham crackers (which you will need on a small rimming plate).

What to use for chocolate

  • Chocolate syrup: Fill a shallow dish wide enough for your cup to fit with chocolate syrup. Dip the rim of the glass in the syrup and carefully pull up, twisting slightly to keep the syrup for dripping.
  • Melted chocolate: Melt your chocolate according to the package instructions. Dip the martini glass rim in the chocolate and slowly pull the cup up at an angle to allow the excess chocolate to drip off.

Using chocolate syrup keeps things easy since it’s ready to use. However, it might drip more than you would like.

Using melted chocolate should set up fairly quickly making it less likely to drip. However, if it sets up too quickly, any extras you want to add won’t stick to it.

Use whichever option sounds best to you.

Dipping a chocolate rim of a cocktail glass into crushed graham crackers.

After dipping your martini glass in chocolate, you can add additional garnishes on the rim by immediately dipping the wet chocolate into the extra ingredient.

Additional decorations could include sprinkles, finely chopped nuts, sweetened cocoa powder, chocolate shavings or even graham cracker crumbs like I’ve shown above!

Just make sure you don’t add too much chocolate so that it starts dripping down the side of the glass. That starts to make it look a little creepy (which is actually fine for Halloween Cocktails!)

Side view of a salt rimmed cocktail glass.

Other Ways to Rim a Cocktail Glass

  • Use small colorful sprinkles for a sweet drink like my Tangy Fun Dip Cocktail.
  • Add cayenne pepper to your plate of salt before rimming a glass to add some unexpected heat.
  • Try a little Everything But the Bagel seasoning for your next Bloody Mary.
  • For a dessert like drink, dip the rim of a cocktail glass in a tub of store-bought vanilla frosting, then into sprinkles!
  • Look for flavored salts like smoked or hibiscus salts.
  • Consider using fun, colorful thigns like Pop Rocks, Fun Dip and other candy to add a sweet touch to a glass.
  • At the holidays, you can crush up candy canes and use that for a fun cocktail rim idea.
  • Make things extra fancy by rimming a glass with sugar and a little edible gold leaf!

Tips

  • You don’t have to rim the whole glass. You can wet just a section, even down on to the side of the glass a bit, and place the salt/ sugar/ etc. in just one area.
  • Be creative with what you use for the liquid. You can use water, lime, lemon, orange, simple syrup, honey are all things you can use to moisten a glass.
  • Look for things to rim the cocktail glass with that aren’t super heavy (like a red hot candy, for instance) as they won’t be able to stay on the glass.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you keep sugar on the rim of a glass?

To make sure the sugar sticks, make sure your glass has enough moisture. The rim should be wet, but not so wet that the water drips down the side of the glass. Superfine sugar works best and sticks to the wetness easily. But you can also use brown sugar, turbinado sugar and colorful sugar crystals.

Can you just rim the outside of a glass?

Yes! If you are concerned about a drink becoming off balance due to the garnish, you can rim just the outside. In that instance, you will dip the glass at a 45-degree angle taking care to just get the outer rim wet. You’ll then dip the wetness into the salt or sugar.

Can I use table salt to rim a margarita?

No. You should skip the table salt with is iodized and much too salty in flavor, especially in this quantity. Margarita salt (which is usually Kosher salt) or even sea salt flakes are delicious and a great complement to many drinks.

Rolling a rim of a cocktail glass in Tajin.

How to Rim a Glass

Here are the basic steps for how to rim a cocktail glass. Read the post for even more fun and unique ideas and variations so you can create a fun rim for all your mixed drinks.
5 from 2 votes
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Course: cocktails, Drinks
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 4 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 4 minutes
Servings: 1 drink
Calories: 139kcal

Ingredients

  • Liquid to moisten the rim Like water, lime wedge, chocolate syrup
  • 3 tablespoons salt or sugar or crushed graham cracker as shown in the post

Instructions

  • To a small shallow plate, add salt.
  • Use a wedge of fresh lime juice and run it around the rim of a cocktail glass to moisten it.
  • Dip the wet edge of the cocktail glass into the plate of salt.
  • Rotate the glass to cover evenly or choose just one section.
  • Gently shake excess salt off.
  • Set aside prepared glass until the cocktail is ready for serving.

Notes

  • You don’t have to rim the whole glass. You can wet just a section, even down on to the side of the glass a bit, and place the salt/ sugar/ etc. in just one area.
  • Be creative with what you use for the liquid. You can use water, lime, lemon, orange, simple syrup, honey are all things you can use to moisten a glass.
  • Look for things to rim the cocktail glass with that aren’t super heavy (like a red hot candy, for instance) as they won’t be able to stay on the glass.
See the post for the full instructions for rimming a glass with lime and salt or Tajin, water and sugar and chocolate sauce and crushed graham cracker.

Nutrition

Serving: 1drink | Calories: 139kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 1mg | Sugar: 36g | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg
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2 Comments

  1. It’s not a drink if there isn’t something along the rim to add extra flavor, imo! I love these delicious ideas on how to rim a glass!

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