I spent a few days last week in California, courtesy of Sunkist, to visit a citrus grove and learn about using citrus to lower salt content when cooking. Whenever I visit California I wonder why I don’t live there. It’s so gorgeous. One of the highlights of my trip was meeting and learning from Matthew Biancaniello of Eat Your Drink. Matthew is an amazing cocktail chef. I call him a chef because he was so much more than a bartender. He crafts unique and delicious healthy cocktails using farm-fresh organic foods, wild aromatics (he forages for wild plants in his spare time) and herbs from his own herb garden. His drinks were so tasty and delicious I haven’t stopped talking about them since I got back. I mean who makes cocktails with leek flowers and sage? If you’re on Instagram, search the hashtag #sunkistcitrus for a peek at some of his creations.
So this month’s recipe redux theme could not be more perfectly timed –> spirits, extracts and other alcohols. What a great opportunity to test out my new healthy cocktail making skills! I do want to point out that although I use alcohol in my recipe it’s definitely not the star, nor is it really necessary. You can use infused mineral water or any other beverage you like to get the same effect.
Matthew’s template for a healthy cocktail is pretty simple. You take 2 oz spirit of choice + 3/4 oz fresh lime or lemon juice + 3/4 oz honey syrup + fruit of your choice + herb of your choice. I love that Matthew’s drinks build upon another huge part of my life: juicing! Many of the recipes in my juicing book can be served in this way to take your juice to a whole new level of deliciousness.
As usual, I’m a fan of using what I have on hand when developing new recipes. This is what I had on the ready: oranges, limes, my sister’s home grown orange mint, orange blossom honey, kiwi, and cucumbers. My challenge was to make a healthy cocktail using these ingredients. First I made the honey syrup, which is similar to simple syrup but you use equal parts honey and water instead. I haven’t purchased a muddler yet — the most important kitchen tool in this process — so I used my Vitamix instead to smash the ingredients together. It was definitely a bit too thick, but I actually didn’t mind. I kind of enjoy eating my drinks!
Once I had the taste right, I poured some of the mixture into a shaker, added prosecco and ice, and shook it up. Then I strained it into a glass. I actually didn’t strain it very well so it’s much more thick than Matthew’s drinks were but I liked it that way! If you want it to be more juice-like, then just strain it well. I zested some orange peel on top for more orange flavor and for a little color. I didn’t serve it with ice but that’s an option, too. I’m just not an ice in my drink kind of gal.
The flavor was orange-y, herb-y and delicious and the drink was super refreshing — perfect for a summer afternoon!
I hope you’ll try this fun, healthy twist on cocktails at your next party or gathering.