Call it the French-Fry Doctrine: A generous helping of salt makes food taste better. And now that beer brewers, whiskey distillers, and winemakers are catching on, our drinks taste better, too.
By: Nick Marino
There’s a reason every recipe you’ve ever read calls for a dash of salt, and it’s the same reason you usually add more than just a dash: Good old sodium chloride amplifies everything it touches. This is why, a few years ago, you couldn’t order dessert without seeing salted-caramel this and salted-chocolate that—and it’s why, thousands of years after our ancestors started seasoning with the stuff, we’re finally discovering salt’s final frontier: in the bottom of a glass.
Or even a beer can. Anyone packing a cooler in 2014 needs a sixer of Westbrook Gose ($10), a summer seasonal from the town of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. “I am such a saltaholic,” says brewery co-founder Morgan Westbrook. “When I get a dirty martini, I want it to taste like salt water. So when we were making Gose, I wanted it to be super-salty.” Westbrook now brews coriander and sea salt directly into the beer, for a lip-smacking payoff that’s as savory as a bag of pretzels.
Kentucky whiskey-crafter Jefferson’s has taken even more extreme measures with Jefferson’s Ocean ($67), a small-batch bourbon aged on a cargo ship at sea. As the boat rocked back and forth and traveled through different climates, the whiskey barrels expanded and contracted, breathing in the salty air. The resulting hooch is dark and syrupy—imagine your favorite bourbon with a hit of Aunt Jemima and a cameo from the Morton Salt Girl.
Even the tradition-obsessed Scots are in on the action. Talisker bottles its briny single-malt Talisker Storm scotch ($66) from the casks that taste most strongly of the waters surrounding the distillery’s perch on the Isle of Skye. The difference is pronounced: less peaty burn, more briny tingle.
As with most simple pleasures in life, the French figured this all out ages ago. Grapes for the minerally whiteDomaine de la Pépière Muscadet ($13) are grown in windswept granite-rich soil near where the Loire River empties into the Atlantic—the resulting wine is as brisk and refreshing as a morning ocean swim. To ratchet up the effect, sip it seaside and pair it with a tangle of pommes frites. Just resist the urge to dip them in your wine.
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Photos: 1) Jamie Chung, 2) Craftcans.com, 3) Jefferson’s Bourbon, 4) Talisker Storm, 5) Bottlerocket.com