Spicy Citrus Cocktail Salt

I strongly believe that a solid 25% of what makes a cocktail memorable is the addition of some kind of fun garnish. Whether it's candied bacon in a Bloody Mary, homemade pickled onions in a Gibson, or a spicy citrus salt coating the frosty glass on your margarita, it's those little finishing touches that can take a drink from good to great.

With summer (aka prime margarita season!) right around the corner, I'd like to share this easy recipe for my Spicy Citrus Cocktail Salt. This mix of fresh citrus zest and chilies is wonderful on margaritas, palomas, and a whole bunch of cold summer drinks. Prep a batch in advance and it will last you weeks or months (depending on how many cocktails you drink).

I also love using this as a garnish on fruit and vegetables (try it on cucumber salads, sliced mango or watermelon) and as a finishing salt on grilled meat. If you're really feeling daring, a pinch sprinkled on chocolate chip cookies or brownies just before baking will bring out the flavors in an amazing way.

Spicy Citrus Cocktail Salt
Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients
1 cup kosher salt
Fresh zest of 1 whole large lemon
Fresh zest of 1 whole navel orange
2 teaspoons fresh grapefruit zest
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon paprika (used smoked Spanish paprika for a smoky twist!)

Directions
Combine salt and citrus zest in a medium bowl and use your hands to massage and rub the zest into the salt, releasing the oils. The salt will start to turn a bit orange and will feel like wet sand. Add the red pepper flakes and paprika, and stir well to evenly distribute. Transfer to an air-tight container and store at room temperature.

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