José Andrés' Elegant Alternative To Salt On A Margarita's Rim

If you're not keen on a salted rim when sipping on a margarita, world-renowned chef José Andrés understands and has the solution: foam. The award-winning restauranteur and master cocktail crafter was frustrated with the inconsistency of sodium-rich rims (sometimes there's too much, sometimes too little), while knowing that the salty flavor remains a delightful element of the famous tequila-based cocktail. That's because salt can offset the bitterness of other ingredients in the drink and help the sweet and sour elements shine through. 

So how can you enjoy the benefits of a salt rim without the sloppy granules? Chef Andrés' ingenious solution is an edible, ocean-inspired foam that floats atop the drink, imparting a delicate salty flavor with a light, airy texture.

In keeping with Andrés' signature joie de vivre method, the chef says that he was inspired to create a salty foam topping for his margaritas after a trip to the beach. While watching the waves whip the salty air into sea foam, he had the epiphany. Soon after, the "Salt Air Margarita" debuted at his Miami restaurant, Bazaar Mar, and has gone on to grace the drink menus at many of his acclaimed restaurants, including Oyamel in Washington D.C. and Bazaar Meat in Chicago and Las Vegas.

The secret to making salty foam at home

While anyone can make a margarita like a pro with enough practice, the best part of José Andrés' airy "Salt Air Margarita" topper is that you don't need to be a seasoned mixologist to attempt making it. The foam is surprisingly easy to produce with the right ingredients and common kitchen gadgets. An immersion blender, salt, water, lime juice, and Sucro powder are all you need. Sucro is the secret ingredient that makes the ocean magic happen. It's a derivative of sucrose that is widely used in the culinary world to create various types of edible foam; it's an incredibly effective emulsifier that helps with aerating liquids. It may not be something that everyone has sitting around, but it can be easily purchased online if you want to attempt this trick.

Andrés' foam recipe calls for 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup lime juice, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon Sucro. The water and Sucro need to be heated together in a saucepan (since the powder dissolves quicker at higher temperatures). An ice bath helps to cool it down before the lime juice and salt are blended in, and a delicate, airy, ocean-esque foam will form before your eyes. This airy delight will actually keep for up to three days in the fridge, in case you want to make some in advance for a dinner party. Just be sure to use an airtight container to keep all that salty goodness intact.

An endlessly customizable cocktail

Because margaritas come in many different styles and flavors, there are countless ways to shake up the old standard and get creative. It all starts with the kind of tequila you want to use, and knowing when you use añejo versus reposado tequila matters. Where you go from there all depends on taste and inclination. The margarita is an exceptional crowd-pleaser cocktail because the base is so simple, leaving room for endless adaptations and customizations. 

You can throw in some tropical fruit juice for a sweet treat, or if you aren't equipped for the foam method, swap out the salt rim for Tajin or Sal de Gusano for a more savory twist. José Andrés' is also known to use infused liquors such as tequila flavored with Arbol chilis or watermelon to inject more flavor into his margaritas. Infusing alcohol in this way can be a simple process that any home bartender can achieve, and it's an incredibly versatile way to personalize your favorite spirits. 

Liquor can be infused with all manner of herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables, instantly upgrading margaritas that are sweet and spicy alike. For those who like a little more kick in their cocktails, swap out tequila for a smoky mezcal and see what other creative flavor combinations await.