Save Your Pasta Water For Your Next Cocktail And You Won't Regret It

Have you ever had a pasta water martini? How about a pasta water whiskey sour? While adding the enriched water to your favorite cocktail might sound a little strange, the starchy liquid has started to show up in a growing number of mixed drinks — and for good reason.

Pasta water has long been recognized as the key to improving the consistency of pasta sauce, which is why many recipes call for saving a bit of the liquid after you boil your noodles. Even if you're using sauce out of a jar, mixing in some of the water can help bind the pasta to your sauce, making for a much more enjoyable eating experience. Pasta water can replace milk when you're making boxed Mac & Cheese and can be even be used in homemade bread to help it rise.

There's a reason why pasta water is often called "Liquid Gold" — it's able to do some amazing stuff for your food (and beverages). And the best part is it's essentially something you were probably going to dump down the drain. Why not repurpose it for a drink? With so many amazing uses for pasta water, it's not entirely surprising that it can also elevate your average cocktail.

Why is pasta water good for cocktails?

The reason why pasta water is useful in so many different recipes is thanks to its starchiness. In the same way that this starch fortifies your marinara, it can also affect the texture of your drink. Mixing it into a cocktail will give the drink a silkier finish, lending some viscosity and a little salt (you did salt your pasta water, right?) while simultaneously not adding any sweetness.

Thanks to that salinity, adding pasta water to your drink adds a depth of flavor comparable to even adding an entirely different ingredient. You can use pasta water as a replacement for vermouth in a martini as they do at chef Marc Vetri's South Philadelphia restaurant Fiorella, or mix it up with bitters, lemon juice, and bourbon for an out-of-this-world whiskey sour

Like any cocktail ingredient, you'll want to give your water a taste before you add it to get an idea of what flavor it might impart. Much like when you make pasta, you're hoping for a briny flavor but not an overly salty one, which is typically achieved by adding a tablespoon of salt for every gallon of water you're cooking with.

How to store pasta water

Making a pasta water cocktail makes sense when you're cooking pasta for dinner, but what do you do when you want to mix one up and you're not planning on cooking any noodles? While a pasta water cocktail pairs perfectly with a spaghetti dinner, you can have one whenever you want by saving your leftover water when you do make pasta. If you're planning on making a pasta water margarita or bloody mary within a few days, then storing your water is as easy as pouring it into an airtight container and throwing it in your fridge. A small Tupperware bowl or even a water bottle can be a great place to store the water for two to three days.

If you want to always have a bit on hand, you can also freeze pasta water in an ice cube tray. Defrost a cube or two whenever you have a few friends over and want to impress them with a version of the cacio e pepe gimlet from Alexandria, Virginia's Thompson Italian.