By Sara Novak, TreeHugger
Can a cocktail be good for you? In moderation, we’d like to think so. The seven drinks here are packed with vitamin-rich fruit. Plus, the easy recipes are proof you don’t have to pay top dollar for great cocktails — you can make them at home.
The key to tasty and potentially healthy cocktails is avoiding processed, sugar-packed store-bought mixes. And just like cooking farm to fork, mixing farm to fork means letting the ingredients shine. In a word, simplicity is key.
To trim down the carbon footprint, use a farmers’ market as your guide to what’s local, using the same flexibility as you would in your normal seasonal cooking to adjust recipes as needed to what’s growing at home. While South Carolina watermelons, cucumbers, pears, and peaches are often available locally into the late summer or fall, they may not be on shelves in your neck of the woods.
1. Bloody Mary with a Twist
Tomato juice is naturally loaded with vitamins and minerals — especially if you make your own. Add a little vodka and you’ve got a party.
While Bloody Marys are the essential brunch cocktail, the garnish — Buddha’s hands peels (also called fingered citrus) that have been seeped in vodka — makes this one special. The lemon-like fruit has a less bitter zest, and is commonly found in Southern California.
The peels, however, have a stronger flavor than lemons and add a serious kick. But if you can’t find them, simply make your own infused vodka with lemon peels. After a few weeks soaking, the peels are ready to go.
Bloody Mary with a Twist
10 oz. organic tomato juice
2 oz. organic vodka
2 dashes of hot sauce
2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of black pepper
Garnish with Buddha’s hands, olives, and celery
Rim with sea salt
1. Rim a medium height glass with sea salt.
2. Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and stir. Add ice to the glass and add mixture. Season with pepper.
3. Garnish with celery, vodka infused Buddha’s hands, and olives.
Recipe: Susan Williams
All images by Sara Novak
2. Fruity Basils
You can use any available berry — blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. I used watermelon because they are still widely available where I am down south. These are a bit time-intensive so you may want to make a few batches ahead of time and then just add the ice and rum later.
8 basil leaves
4 mint leaves
1 tsp raw sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
½ cup chopped watermelon
1 1/2 oz rum
Garnish with basil
1. Muddle basil, mint, sugar, and lime juice in the base of a shaker glass. If it’s still too thick, blend it in a blender.
2. Add watermelon and continue to muddle. Add rum and ice and shake. Fill medium height glass with ice and add muddled rum mixture into the glass. Garnish with more mint.
Recipe: Art of the Drink
Next: Acai Berry Mojito
3. Acai Berry Mojito
Acai has long been called a superfood, and pairing it with antioxidant-laden berries makes for a stellar cocktail. In fact, acai is the mother of all superfoods with 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes and 10 to 30 times the anthocyanins found in red wine. And this drink is seriously delicious. Again, use whatever berry that you have on hand. If you froze some from peak season, they will work as well. If berries just aren’t seasonal, skip them and just use mint.
Acai Blackberry Mojito
2 oz organic vodka
1 tsp raw sugar
1 oz acai juice
1 oz lime juice
Blackberries or mint leaves for garnish
1. Shake the vodka, sugar, acai juice, and lime juice in a drink mixer. Garnish with blackberries or mint leaves.
Recipe adapted from Celebrations.
Next: Mint Fizz
4. Mint Fizz
This is a glorious way to put refreshing mint to good use — although this cocktail also works with basil if you don’t have mint on hand. Garnish with mint or cucumber peel.
3/4 tsp sugar
3 fresh mint sprigs
1 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz vodka
Mint for garnish
1. Combine sugar, mint, and lime juice. Muddle with a spoon. Add ice to a drink shaker along with vodka. Shake vigorously and strain into a highball glass. Top with a bit of organic champagne.
Recipe adapted from Delish.
Next: Southern Peach Bellinis
5. Southern Peach Bellinis
These are so simple to whip up, but what makes them extra special is the addition of lemon and even more importantly, South Carolina peaches (those not local can substitute peaches native to their region..but alas…they might not be as good).
When peaches are in season in your area, buy a bunch of them and freeze those that you don’t eat. Then you can make a frozen peach Bellini.
Carolina Peach Bellinis
1 bottle Prosecco
2 ripe (VERY important) local peaches
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Peach slice for garnish
1. Peel the peaches, and use a food processor to really liquefy them. Some people like it a little chunkier, but not me. Stir in sugar and lemon juice.
2. Put 2 tablespoons of the peach mixture into the bottom of a champagne glass and fill with Prosecco. Garnish with a slice of peach.
Recipe: Katie Alice Cox Walker
Next: Fig Heaven
6. Fig Heaven
This is a time-intensive cocktail that I adapted from Star Chefs. You have to make the fig liqueur before you can even get started with the cocktails. But really, this is the perfect fig cocktail and an excellent way to impress your guests.
6 ounces fresh black mission figs
1 liter vodka
8 ounces sugar
Juice of ¼ orange
Juice of ½ lime
½ oz. fig liqueur
1 oz. vodka
For the Fig Liqueur:
1. Infuse the figs into the vodka. Once infused, pour the contents into a large sauce pan and add the sugar, cooking the mixture on high heat until the alcohol begins to evaporate. Be incredibly careful cooking alcohol over an open flame. You must have proper ventilation.
2. Reduce the mixture by 20 percent. Chill in an ice bath and strain with a cheese cloth.
For the Cocktail:
1. Add ingredients into a shaker glass with ice. Shake really well and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with herbs or cucumber.
Recipe adapted from Star Chefs.
Next: Gingered Pear Cocktail
7. Gingered Pear Cocktail
This is the ideal end of summer recipe. Pears are now out across the nation and ginger is the ideal pairing. First off, you’ll need to make the pear ginger puree. Garnish your beautiful concoction with candied ginger or a simple slice of pear. If the puree still seems thick, feel free to add a bit more water.
Gingered Pear Cocktail
3 oz. pear infused vodka
1/2 oz. pear ginger puree (recipe to follow)
1 thin slice pear
1. Mix all liquid ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a medium glass with ice and add ingredients. Garnish with a slice of pear.
For the puree:
2 pears, peeled and cored
1-inch of ginger
1/8 cup water
1 tsp raw sugar
1. Add ingredients to blender, adding water to liquefy. Add sugar and blend until smooth.
Recipe adapted from Slashfood.