Food & Drink » Remix

With vodka instead of water, Master Cleanse lemonade is pretty tasty

Remix: a fresh take on a classic drink


  • Photo by Jessica Bryce Young

New year, new you! Nothing tastes as good as thin feels! Pound that treadmill, shed those pounds! And so on. January is the month diet resolutions are made, and as such, the mania for detox diets gets a little out of hand.

While I can’t fault anyone for wanting to start the year by going clean and lean, please do not go overboard. An eternally popular detox diet plan since its inception in the 1940s is the Master Cleanse, which bills itself as a juice cleanse but which I would call dangerous nonsense. (Seriously, even Gwyneth Paltrow’s basically nutrition-free detox isn’t this crazypants.) The Master Cleanse plan entails living on nothing but a special lemonade – along with daily sea-salt colon flushes, yum – for 10 days. Don’t do this to yourself; instead try to absorb the precepts of clean eating.

However, all of that said: So long as you aren’t trying to live on it, Master Cleanse lemonade is a pretty great drink! Sure, it looks like pond scum, but the emphasis on filtered water and fresh organic ingredients means the flavors are all clean and distinct, and the combo of sour, spicy and sweet is a classic ... in fact, it’s a combo many cocktails strive for. So who would be surprised that in this Remix column I decided to simply, um, add vodka? Well, sage-and-rosemary-infused vodka, that is. (Herbs! Health!)

In the end, I didn’t just add vodka – I substituted vodka for the water and played with the proportions until I ended up with a surprisingly delicious cocktail. Be sure to use the best-quality ingredients for this, and you may just find you have a new favorite in your repertoire. Oh, and even if you’re on a New Year’s diet, remember: Everything in moderation … including moderation.

10 ounces filtered water
2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix together in a glass. Drink whenever you are hungry (a minimum of 60 ounces per day).

2 ounces sage-and-rosemary-infused vodka
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Grade B maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper

First, infuse the vodka: Bruise three big sprigs of fresh rosemary and five or six fresh sage leaves by rolling them between your fingers. Place them in a Mason jar, add 10-12 ounces of vodka, and allow to steep overnight.

Dip out 2 ounces vodka (don’t bring along any of the herbs) and place into an ice-filled shaker along with the maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne. Shake well and strain into a stemmed cocktail glass, or pour over one large piece of ice into a rocks glass.


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