Okay, so we've all heard about clean eating. But clean cocktailing? What's that all about? Not to go all Dr. Strangelove on you, but clean cocktailing is about both the purity of the spirit and the clean, healthful qualities of any other ingredients you mash, mix, squeeze, strain into, and otherwise add to a cocktail.
In terms of a clean spirits, we're mostly talking about vodka. Unlike whiskey, clear vodka is not aged in charred barrels, which add chemical compounds to the pure distillate -- compounds that develop the color and complex flavors and aromas that make whiskey whiskey. By contrast, vodka is simply the result of the distilling and filtration process, diluted with filtered water to achieve the desired proof. Gin can also be a clean spirit if the herbs and flavorings added to the product are themselves clean ingredients.
Certainly, this is not to say that clear spirits are necessarily healthier than brown spirits -- or, indeed, healthy at all. For our purposes, the clear, uncomplicated quality of ice-cold vodka is often said to have a "clean taste," and it primarily forms the base of these clean cocktails -- although we've thrown in a couple gin-based cocktails for kicks.
A Dozen of Our Favorite Clean Cocktails
Homemade Earl Grey shrub takes the classic grapefruit-and-vodka Greyhound cocktail to fragrant new heights. "This drink starts with a simple shrub -- a tart, fruity liquid you make ahead and can also sip straight up or with seltzer-made with sugar, vinegar, citrus, and a tea bag," says Betty Soup. "It's a play on a Greyhound (grapefruit juice and vodka). Salt the rim if you like."
A refreshing balance of sweet and savory, this cocktail features fresh strawberries and basil, shaken with vodka and a balsamic glaze. "Delicious sweet and savory cocktail," says Jessica Diaz. "Garnish with a strawberry."
"Grill fresh tomatoes with poblano and bell peppers, garlic, onion and lemon and blend with a zesty whirlwind of spices for your new refreshing addition to brunch or summer weekend grilling," says Matt Wencl. "Garnish with fresh cucumber, large green olives, and any assortment of grilled items, such as asparagus spears, tomato wedges, bell pepper rings, celery stalks, and lemon wheels.
What to do with winter's crop of delicious fresh tangerines? Make this sweet and tangy martini, obviously. "This is an adult crowd pleaser and my answer to what to do with all the tangerines on my tree," says miss vicki. "It is refreshing and oh, so good!"
This gin, fresh lime juice, and sparkling water cocktail features a simple homemade fresh ginger and rosemary simple syrup. "Such an easy, refreshing and complex drink," says chrisader. "Great to make a pitcher of them in advance. I stirred rather than shaked it with ice because of the sparkling water."
You'll freeze fresh watermelon puree, and then blend it with vodka, melon liqueur, lemon juice, and a little simple syrup. Adjust the sweetness as you like. "Wow, what a great frozen drink!" raves AngelaFarr1. "Coladas are too fattening, margaritas and daquaries have too much sugar. This is such a refreshing alternative and SO delicious! We're buying a margarita machine soley for these watermelon slushies."
This cocktail's origin has nothing to do with Moscow or mules, but after a few sips of this vodka, ginger beer, and lime concoction, no one will care. Its spicy ginger flavor makes it a terrific winter cocktail, while the lime juice makes it refreshing in summer. "Use a great ginger beer, which think was most important to the taste," says Pat Kelly. "Proportions of ingredients was perfect!"
Blueberries, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and ginger feature in this amazing mocktail. Just add a little vodka to turn this fauxbucha into an adult beverage. "Love this recipe!" raves France C. "I'm a huge kombucha addict, but it gets expensive. This is a super tasty shortcut recipe that really does taste like the real thing!"
9. Clover Club
This beautiful and elegant cocktail features muddled raspberries and thyme, shaken with gin and lemon juice. Dust the top with a little cinnamon, or garnish with lemon zest curl or additional thyme.
Lemon juice, soy sauce, pickle juice, and Cajun seasoning combine with tomato-vegetable juice cocktail. "This is a no-frills, bare-bones recipe created during hurricane season one year when we didn't have all of the traditional ingredients, such as the celery stalk or olives," says kymbrown1. "We all loved it, and it's been our go-to recipe since. It's spicy and strong, just like us Southern women."
Fresh pineapple juice, grapefruit juice, and lemon juice mix it up with gin, a little honey, and a garnish of sliced grapefruit. "The classic Bee's Knees cocktail dates back to Prohibition, when the phrase became slang for the best," says Betty Soup. "This updated version proves that the best can get better."
"These blueberry martinis are the hit of any party!" says YOU999. "Easy to make, but the key is the homemade blueberry vodka that requires 2 weeks to properly infuse. After that, it's smooth and fruity sailing with a splash of lime juice!"