Liquor Laboratory

Why Do You Put Salt on Your Hand When Drinking Tequila?

Why Do You Put Salt on Your Hand When Drinking Tequila

Today, we’re diving into something that probably comes second nature to tequila drinkers but a puzzle to those who aren’t: why do you put salt on your hand when drinking tequila?

Well, we’ve got the inside scoop based on our firsthand experiences in the world of alcohol. When it comes to tequila, there’s a lot more to it than just shots – it’s a journey into the heart of Mexico’s rich culture, tradition, and, yes, salt.

So, if you’re curious about why we put salt on our hands before downing tequila, keep reading!

Reasons of Why Do You Put Salt On Your Hand When Drinking Tequila?

Person Putting Salt on the Hand

Salt serves multiple purposes, the first being that it helps mitigate the sharpness that tequila can sometimes bring. This results in a smoother experience.

Secondly, it acts as a flavor enhancer. This helps bring out its green taste and lets you savor the complex notes more fully. [1]

“Lime and salt: the dynamic duo for the best tequila moments!” – Liquor Laboratory

Thirdly, it can help you stay sober while doing tequila shots. While it’s common to drink the shots with salt, some people from Mexico actually prefer to sip this alcohol slowly.

But what do Mexicans say before a shot of tequila?

What Does Salt Do When Sipping Tequila?

Salt helps reduce tequila’s bite and serves as a buffer, making the drink smoother and less intense.

It can also enhance its unique flavor notes more, which is important for those who like savoring alcohol.

Why Do Drinkers Lick The Salt?

Hand Holding Salt

A tequila drinker licks salt to tone down every shot’s strong and harsh flavor. It can also make you salivate more, which helps make people more sober.

Coarse sea salt, kosher salt, and Himalayan salt are the best salts for tequila shots. These are excellent at enhancing tequila’s flavors and balancing them out without becoming too overpowering. But what do you call a shot of tequila in a beer?

Where Do You Put Salt When Sipping Tequila?

People commonly sprinkle a dash of kosher salt on the fleshy part of their hand where the thumb meets the index finger.

“Among life’s simplest pleasures is sipping on a margarita made with great tequila.” – John Lasseter

Others prefer to use a salted rim on their shot glass. [2]

Do You Lick It Before Or After The Tequila Shot?

It depends—some folks like licking the salts before taking the tequila shot to make it smoother and less bitter.

Conversely, taking the shot and licking salt afterward also does wonders. This will create a delightful flavor on your tongue after taking the shot. But what’s the strongest tequila?

How Do You Drink Tequila Shots Properly?

Glass of Tequila with Lime and Salt


The first step on how to take a tequila shot is to pour the tequila and prepare the salts.

You can do this by putting some water on your hand and sprinkling a little salt. This allows the salts to stick to your moistened hand.


After licking the salts off, sip the tequila shot. Let out a triumphant “whoo!” if you feel like it.


After downing that tequila shot, pop a lime or lemon wedge into your mouth and start sucking. The citrus juices from the lime/lemon provide instant relief from the burning taste.

Once you’ve savored that one slice of lime/lemon, drop it into your shot glass.

However, this whole routine of sucking lime/lemon is most commonly used with crudely-made tequila. When it comes to the high-quality stuff, you can skip the citrus or lime juice and salts and drink it in its pure form.

Some regions in Mexico even follow up sips with a cocktail called Sangrita, a recipe made with orange juice, sweet grenadine syrup, and hot chilies instead of sucking lime/citrus.

FAQs Related to Why do you put salt on your hand when drinking tequila?

Should you lick salt with lime when sipping tequila?

Yes, you can lick salt with lime/lemon with tequila, but it’s definitely not a requirement. This tradition is done mainly for tequilas with a sharp taste.
If you have the smoother stuff, you can savor the tequila shots for what they are or use them in Margaritas.

Can you drink tequilas without the salt?

Yes, you can enjoy tequila without having to lick the salt. While the salt-and-lime ritual is popular, it’s not a requirement.
It can be enjoyed in various ways, whether straight, in a Margarita cocktail or with food.

Why do people put salt on their hand when drinking tequila?

Sprinkling salt on the hand before drinking tequila is believed to help neutralize the strong taste of the spirit, making it more palatable, especially for those who may find the flavor too intense.

How do you do a tequila shot with salt?

To do a tequila shot with salt, first, moisten the back of your hand with a lime wedge or by licking it. Then, pour a small amount of salt onto the moistened area. After that, hold a shot glass of tequila in one hand, lick the salt from your hand, quickly take the shot of tequila, and finally, suck on a lime wedge.

Does the salt change the taste of the tequila?

The salt doesn’t directly change the taste of the tequila itself. Instead, it’s believed to help offset the bitterness or intensity of the tequila, making it a more pleasant experience for some individuals.

Is putting salt on your hand before taking a tequila shot necessary?

No, it’s not necessary. It’s simply a tradition or personal preference for some people. Many people enjoy drinking tequila straight without salt or lime.

What are some alternatives to using salt with tequila?

Some alternatives to using salt with tequila include sipping tequila slowly to appreciate its flavor, using a chaser like a mild beverage to accompany the shot, or trying different types of tequila cocktails.

Where did the tradition of using salt with tequila originate?

The exact origin of the tradition is unclear, but it’s believed to have originated in Mexico, where tequila is produced. It’s possible that it evolved as a way to make the strong flavor of tequila more palatable for some drinkers.

In Summary

In conclusion, you put salt on your hand before a shot of tequila to enhance the overall experience. Salt helps you balance the strong burn and zesty lime wedge perfectly. It also serves as a flavor enhancer.

However, this salt-and-lime juice ritual isn’t the absolute rule. Like beer, it can be enjoyed in various ways depending on your personal preference.

Some people knock them back, some prefer to sip and savor them slowly, and some prefer them with food or in a Margarita cocktail. 


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