Sunday, November 11, 2012

Culinary Cocktails with Healthy Punch


“Hey who took my basil?” a chef might complain and the answer could be the bartender. Restaurants are raising the bar on the culinary offerings on cocktails menus with a ‘farm to table’ philosophy filling glassware, too.

The Hummingbird Cocktail at The Old Edwards Inn: vodka, broccoli, pea shoots and a dash of local honey.



Mixologist Thomas Keenan created 5 wellness cocktails for Old Edwards Inn

“The demand for fresh, seasonal food from the kitchen carries over to the bar,” notes
Nancy Kruse, Atlanta based menu trends analyst and contributor to Nation’s Restaurant News.  At Ammazza fresh basil is just as likely to end up in a crafted cocktail as on their Napoletana-style wood fired pizzas.  At Holeman & Finch Public House, mixologists are masters at blending bits of citrus and a hint of honey in cocktails with intriguing names such as “She” made with mescal, dry curacao liqueur, grapefruit, lime and tonic.
The cocktail menu at The Optimist raids the kitchen too with potent potables such as the gin based “Mother of Pearl” spiced with celery salt, black pepper, fennel frond and celery leaf.
The high art of high balls made with produce and herbs is perhaps best displayed at chef Grant Achatz’s TheAviary in Chicago where bartenders give cocktails four-star restaurant attention as they whisk, whir, stir, foam and shake spirits in what they call “a state-of-the-art drink kitchen.”  There’s even an ice chef on staff to create just the right cube, ball, shard or snow to compliment the cocktail. 
Drink Your Vegetables
A collection of culinary cocktails is on the menu with spa treatments at The Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, North Carolina. So instead of herbal tea or lemon infused spring water, spa goers can sip refreshing blends of beet juice, broccoli, cucumber, herbs and edible flowers with a little kick from vodka, tequila, rum, brandy or moonshine. Because the drinks are made with vitamin and antioxidant rich fresh fruit and vegetables they could be considered a health and beauty treatment and each drink calls for only an ounce or ounce and half of spirits, “We are trying to focus on flavor and nutrition with less alcohol,” says executive chef Johannes Klapdohr.
Farm to Bar Table

To Your Health
Since these hand-crafted and often pretty pricy cocktails are meant to be sipped and savored in a sophisticated setting registered dietitians like the trend because it encourages moderation in alcohol consumption. Dietitian Rachel Begun, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says they’re drinks with benefits, “Cocktails made from fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs do deliver nutrients and are better options than drinks made from processed mixers both from a taste and nutrition perspective.” 
Drink Your Beets
There’s even a research study from the U.S.D.A’s Agricultural Research Service Department that shows treating strawberries and blackberries with alcohol boosts the fruit’s antioxidant activity.
Registered dietitian Cynthia Chandler is serving a holiday herb cocktail at her Thanksgiving Day feast made with tequila, lime juice and fresh sage, “Sage is a member of the mint family and is one of the oldest herbs used for both culinary and medicinal purposes and sage has been used to help digest heavy meals.” So here’s a toast to your health to help kick off the holiday season.  

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