Alcohol is a poison. Well, that escalated quickly. But, let’s face it, it’s delicious, we like drinking it, and as long as we are responsible, in its consumption, there’s nothing wrong with a little fun. But, in this new era of gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, fair trade, free-range, everything, trends are making their way into the alcoholic beverage world, as well. And, as the makers of all things cocktail, we need to embrace the fresh and healthy, as well as the indulgent.
I take the same approach to cocktail design that I take to cooking a meal. Always source, and use, the best ingredients you can. Remember, “garbage in, garbage out.” While pasteurized, from-concentrate, juices are easy to obtain, squeezing, or juicing fresh, is always preferable. But the effort doesn’t stop there. Freshly picked strawberries, grown locally, should be chosen over store-bought. Citrus can be easily found in the supermarket, but a local market, or small distributor, will always have fresher, more vibrant products. A good rule of thumb is to think small, and work your way larger. Using fruits and foods in season, will always lend a better product, than not. Seasonal cocktail menus (as well as food menus,) at restaurants and bars, change seasonally for this reason. A strawberry margarita looks out of place on January’s drink list, but lands right at home in July.
Being health-conscious doesn’t end with mixers, however. The alcohol, itself, must be of the highest quality, and this doesn’t inherently mean spending more money. Plenty of companies have hopped on the bandwagon of using sustainable grains or fruit in their distillate, and many others refrain from adding artificial colors or flavorings to their products. Natural or raw sugar, in liqueurs, is always preferable to corn syrup or refined sugars, Buying your booze local, from small, independent, distilleries, not only benefits the local economy, but these producers tend to use local ingredients, of high quality, themselves. I would caution against purchasing any product solely because it is made locally, if the quality of the product is not up to snuff. The highest bar should always be of quality first, and locale second. Keep in mind, many “locally-made” products are simply sourced from large corporate manufacturers, and bottled locally. Don’t be fooled, but remember that all things being equal, err on the side of local.
All of that being said, drink responsibly. Setting aside the fact that ethanol is, literally, empty calories, over-indulgence places unnecessary strain, and duress, on your body. It can also lead to emotional stress, as the ramifications complicate your life. Remember, that we live to enjoy, not to destroy, and that starts with your own personal choices, and ends with a better, more emotionally mature, society.
Here are two fresh fruit cocktails, designed to invigorate your mind, body, and soul.
- 2oz Cucumber-Basil Juice
- 2oz Uncle Val’s Gin
- .75oz Sencha Green Tea Syrup
- .75oz Lime Juice
- Shake with ice, and double strain into a coupe.
(To make the cucumber-basil juice, use an electric juicer, and juice one handful of fresh basil for every one, unpeeled, English cucumber. Mix the resulting juice with an equal part of filtered water)
(To make the syrup, simply brew an extra strong batch of Sencha green tea – steep for about 15 minutes – and add an equal part of white superfine sugar)
- 1.5oz Blanco 100% Agave Tequila (Espolon works well)
- 1.5oz Fresh Watermelon juice
- .75oz Lime Juice
- .5oz Luxardo Triplum Triple Sec
- A dash of light agave syrup
- Shake with ice, and dump all contents into a chilled glass.
- Garnish with a slice of melon.