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How to Sugar Rim a Cocktail Glass

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 3 min read

Rimming a glass with sugar is an easy way to add a decorative and flavorful garnish to your cocktails. In this guide, you'll learn everything you need to master the art of this simple, yet impressive, mixology skill.



Lynnette Marrero & Ryan Chetiyawardana Teach MixologyLynnette Marrero & Ryan Chetiyawardana Teach Mixology

World-class bartenders Lynnette and Ryan (aka Mr Lyan) teach you how to make perfect cocktails at home for any mood or occasion.

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4 Things You Need to Sugar Rim a Glass

Before you begin, you'll want to assemble all your tools and ingredients. Here's a breakdown of everything you'll need:

  1. Glassware: Choose whichever type of cocktail glass best fits your drink.
  2. A rimming dish: This is what you'll use to hold your sugar. You can purchase glass rimmers made specifically for this purpose, but any flat plate, saucer, or shallow bowl larger than your glass will do. Depending on how you decide to moisten your glass rim, you may need a second dish for your liquid as well.
  3. A liquid: This is what will make the sugar stick to the rim of your glass. Citrus juices such as lime juice, lemon juice, and orange juice are common rim moisteners. For a sweeter taste, you can try simple syrup, agave, honey, caramel, or chocolate sauce. And if you prefer a flavorless option, water will also do the trick. Choose whichever liquid your cocktail recipe specifies, or feel free to improvise and pick something fun that you think will complement the rest of your cocktail's ingredients.
  4. Sugar: Common granulated sugar is often a great choice, but if you want to jazz up your cocktail, you can try a specialty sugar such as turbinado, brown sugar, cinnamon sugar, or powdered sugar. You can even buy colored sugars.

How to Sugar Rim a Cocktail Glass in 4 Steps

Once you have your tools ready, all you need to do is follow these four steps:

  1. Pour the sugar onto your dish. Your sugar pile should be about a quarter of an inch high and wider than the rim of the glass you're using.
  2. Apply the liquid to the rim of the glass. If you're using citrus fruit, slice off a wedge of the fruit and rub it along the outer edge of the glass. For any sweet, syrupy liquid, pour the liquid into another dish and dip the entire rim of the glass into it. If you've decided to use water, moisten a clean sponge and rub the sponge along the rim of the glass.
  3. Apply the sugar to the rim of the glass. Place your glass upside-down into your dish of sugar and then twist the glass around a bit to ensure the entire rim is coated. An alternative method is to hold the glass at a 45-degree angle and slowly rotate the top quarter-inch of the outer edge of the glass into the sugar so that only the outside of the glass is coated. This method is slightly more time consuming, but it will help prevent sugar from getting inside the glass. When you're finished, hold the glass right-side-up and gently shake off any loose bits of sugar.
  4. Pour your cocktail into the glass. Allow the rim to dry before pouring, and make sure to carefully pour into the center of your glass so that your sugar rim doesn't get splashed.
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4 Ingredients You Can Use to Rim a Glass

Sugar and salt are just two of many ingredients that can be used when rimming a cocktail glass.

  1. Sugar: Sugaring the rim of a cocktail glass gives your drink a frosted look. It’s especially striking if you use colored sugar.
  2. Salt: Types of salt frequently used for a salt rim include kosher salt, sea salt, and celery salt. Popular cocktails that often use a salt rim include the Margarita, the Bloody Mary, and the Michelada.
  3. Spices: Some other dry ingredients you might use when rimming a cocktail glass are chili powder, cocoa powder, and cayenne pepper.
  4. Crushed candy: Candy like Pop Rocks and candy canes can add some fun pizzazz to your drink.

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Learn more about mixology from award-winning bartenders. Refine your palate, explore the world of spirits, and shake up the perfect cocktail for your next gathering with the MasterClass Annual Membership.