The original cocktail glass rim, as far as we know, is the salt on a Margarita glass. According to Margarita history, it was created in 1948, adapting a long-standing Mexican tradition of a shot of tequila served with a lime wedge and salt.
With the Margarita, the salt rim was visually appealing and added flavor to the drink. Maybe—we can’t find data to substantiate—someone put celery salt on a Bloody Mary rim (photo #5); but the practice was not widespread.
Why it took so long for other glass rims to emerge is anyone’s guess. But some 15 years ago, we first noticed a product called a glass rimmer at the annual specialty food show.
Shallow round tins (photo #6) contained different savory or sweet blends for popular drinks: Bloody Mary, Cosmopolitan, Lemon Drop, and so on.
The rim of the cocktail glass was moistened and twisted in the tin to coat it. Non-cocktail rimmers for hot chocolate and other drinks followed.
Bartenders noticed; and over the years, creative mixologists proceeded to elevate glass rimmers into an art—owing largely to the accessibility of unusual ingredients, from black lava salt to hibiscus leaves.
The rim can be as minimal or deep as the mixologist desires (compare photos #1, #2 and #3).
The most recent evolution is half- or three-quarter rims, which give the drinker the option to partake of the rim seasoning or not.
As you peruse the lists below, consider combining ingredients; for example:
The variations are endless, and give you the creativity to layer the flavors you want.
You can use rims on other drinks, for example:
Beyond the original adherent—water—mixologists now add another layer of flavor using flavorful adherents.
Orange juice, lemon juice or other juice (apple, mango, pomegranate, vegetable, you name it) can substitute for water.
For sweet cocktails, the rim can be affixed with honey, maple syrup or simple syrup (sugar syrup), among other syrups.
For dessert cocktails, you can use caramel or chocolate sauce, even marshmallow cream (we’ve enjoyed a particularly calorie-packed Piña Colada with a rim of marshmallow cream and toasted coconut).
The next time you pour a cocktail at home, first add a rim. Put the adherent liquid in a shallow bowl, and the rim ingredient (herbs, sugar, etc.) on a saucer.
Dip the glass into the liquid about 1/4 inch deep (or however deep you want the rim).
Then, just place the glass on the dish with the ingredients, and twist to coat.
You’re now an expert rimmer of drinks!