Elevate Your Spirits
By mixing better-for-you cocktails, bay area bar master Scott Beattie gives new meaning to drinking responsibly.
Is booze ever truly nutritious? Not so much. Scott Beattie, who’s crafted some of the most innovative bar menus in San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma, will be the first to tell you that. “There’s no cocktail in the world that’s healthy for you,” the author of Artisanal Cocktails readily admits. But that hasn’t stopped him from devoting his career to finding creative ways to make hitting the sauce more wholesome. By working with local farmers, foraging for fresh ingredients and cooking his own syrups, Beattie has developed libations that are not just more sustainable, they’re tastier, too. The next time you’re thirsty, skip the mojito and follow his tips to shake up a more quality cocktail:
Buy organic booze
“Use good quality organic liquor. There are certain distilleries like Square One and Maker’s Mark that take extra steps to produce alcohol in a more sustainable way by sourcing all their grains from the local area. Many of them don’t cost that much more than other brands.”
Use a jigger
“The thing that’s paramount to everything else in cocktail-making is using a jigger, so you can measure everything you’re putting in there. Then you can figure out exactly what makes your mouth happy. The OXO brand makes a metal and rubber jigger that I like.”
Minimize the sugar
“Most bars tend to make drinks sweeter than they should be. But if you use good liquor in the first place, you don’t need as much sugar. When you make a simple syrup, use organic sugar, not just regular cane sugar. And avoid traditional cocktail mixers, which contain a lot of preservatives. Companies like Fever-Tree make great natural mixers that generally have less sugar.”
This drink from Beattie’s bar menu at the recently-opened Goose & Gander in Napa embodies his cocktail philosophy:
1½ oz Square One Cucumber Vodka
½ oz fresh lemon juice
¼ oz yuzu juice (make sure it's sodium-free)
½ oz 1:1 simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
1-2 oz seltzer
Add the vodka, lemon, yuzu and simple syrup to a 16 oz mixing glass. Add enough ice to fill the glass completely, seal and shake hard to mix. Add the seltzer, then dump the contents into a 12 oz collins glass. Using a straw or the back end of a stirring spoon, carefully slide several slices of fresh and pickled cucumbers down the sides of the glass.