One of the hottest trends this year has been Water Cocktails! You may ask, what is a water cocktail? I had that same question when I first heard the term. My first thoughts were fancy new mineral waters or water bars set up ala oxygen bars (if you have been to Vegas, you know what I am talking about). Instead, water cocktails involve the use of water as an infusion for cocktails or as a starring ingredient in the cocktail.
Until this year, I hadn’t really thought of water as a primary ingredient in making cocktails. It’s not that I hadn’t used it – I certainly had. I used water to muddle my sugar cubes in an Old Fashion or seltzer water to spruce up my Mojitos. But I didn’t consider it to be a main ingredient, along the lines of sugar or bitters, and rarely thought of it when contemplating cocktail creation. But, I was wrong. I should have been thinking of water when creating cocktails. Water lends itself to light and refreshing drinks, as well as libations that hold down the calorie count. Important for those of us who have to constantly watch their waistline.
Earlier this year, I was lucky to attend a wonderful seminar put on by Perrier, which really made me think about the use of water in cocktails, as well as a water infusion seminar by Purity Vodka. These seminars were also timely. We have long been asked to write about drinking on a diet and the water seminars helped me focus some of my thoughts on this topic. I will admit that I have long avoided it, and when pressed, advised people to drink wine or spirits on the rocks. But, these two seminars crystallized thoughts on how to “lighten” up a drink. Instead of sparkling wine, try Perrier (or other sparkling waters). Sometimes this substitution works great, sometimes not. It really depends on whether the sparkling wine was added for flavor or bubbles. Remember this, the next time you are whipping up a “champagne” cocktail.
I love water as a main ingredient. I am a carbonation junkie and the addition of carbonated water really lightens up certain cocktails. I often add sparkling water to a glass of punch. In adding carbonation, you need to figure out how much carbonation that you like. I am a huge fan of Perrier (and before my SodaStream, I used to buy cases of it every month). Perrier contains a significant amount of carbonation and really helps make a sweet, syrupy cocktail sing, spruce up fizzes (try it in your next Gin Fizz) and sophisticated mocktails. For a great mocktail, make a Mojito but leave out the rum – it’s like a minted limeade. Also, add ginger and mint leaves to a glass of Perrier. It’s cool and refreshing. Add vodka or white rum and you have yourself an Asian inspired cocktail to serve with pupu platters.
In addition to it’s use as a main ingredient, water also makes a great infusion agent. To infuse, add water to the fruit or vegetable to be infused. For example, take two cups of water and add a cup of watermelon and let it steep overnight. Strain out the watermelon the next day and add vodka, pisco or light rum for a fruity but mellow watermelon drink. You can use almost any veggie or fruit, or combination, in an infusion. Another favorite is mandarin oranges, hibiscus flowers and water, which you allow to infuse at room temperature for 4-8 hours, or even leave overnight. These infusions are so delicious that that no spirits are even required!