The Keys to clean cocktails and why you should care

cleaner cocktail pic

The phrase: The clearer the spirit the cleaner the cocktail might sound like a mythical adage that’s been passed on for generations, but it isn’t.  I made it up, in fact just a few minutes ago when I started this post.  Despite the saying’s resemblance to the stuff of great folklore – the way it rolls off the tongue, sounds super decisive and can be proven to be almost 100% true- it’s no storied limerick from the past.   The ALMOST true part (AKA “Not true” part because not completely true doesn’t count people!) is a bit complicated so let me start from the beginning.

A clean cocktail is one made from a clear, gluten free spirit – such as, tequila, non- flavored vodka, gin and dry rum – and mixed with fresh ingredients and no added refined sugar.  So back to my catchy little phrase…it is accurate to say that clean cocktails are made from clear spirits, but that pesky percentage of accuracy does diminish a bit because there are plenty of clear spirits with gluten, added sugar, preservatives and other ingredients that would never be classified as clean.  Long story short, my clever little expression about clearer spirits being cleaner sounds great (and can even make you sound like mixology is your hobby) but it is in fact, a myth.

What is factual however is that clean cocktails are the smarter choice when you want to indulge in something boozy.  Avoiding dark, sugary alcohol will help you cut  back on calories (and fat in some cases), stave off those nasty hangovers and keep the dreaded bloating effect at bay.  For anyone maintaining or trying to maintain a clean diet, choosing a libation that limits the damage is a must.  Partaking in a stronger sip should not sabotage your hard work or leave behind a brutal headache (or even worse side effects) the next day.

Another fact about clean cocktails: there are challenges involved in making the right choice.  Deciding to abstain from the sweeter, darker and less “clean” offerings on the drink menu is one thing, but then there’s the added task of knowing which spirit brands are actually make the clean cut because of course not all tequila, vodka, gin and dry rum are created equally. Why would they be? That would be way too easy!

When it comes to Tequila, your choice should be of the silver/clear variety (not the amber colored Añejo or Reposado options) and you want to look for brands made from 100% agave.  Vodkas need to be unflavored and gluten free (potato, corn or grape vodkas made from or with zero wheat).  Your Gin pick should also be unflavored and if you decide on Rum it needs to be dry in flavor and clear in color.  This kind of knowledge requires some time consuming but totally warranted research that you’re better off doing before you hit the club, restaurant or lounge to let loose.  Luckily for you I did some digging and vetted a few great spirit brands to look for when you want to cocktail on the clean side.


Patron Silver

If Tequila is your spirit of choice, Patron Silver is a winning pick.  Handmade using 100% weber blue agave, Patron tequila is smooth, naturally sweet and easily mixable.

Roca Patron Silver

If you’re looking for something a little more complex in flavor, Try Roca Patron Silver. This sophisticated, tequila adds a hint of natural sweetness with notes of black pepper, pumpkin and lime tea.


Cold River Vodka

A hand-crafted spirit distilled from freshly grown Maine potatoes, Cold River Vodka delivers a rich, refreshing taste.

Crystal Head Vodka

The unique blend of peaches and sweet corn used to distill Crystal Head vodka, guarantees zero percent trace of gluten in the spirit as well as an incredible flavor.  The décor-worthy bottle is a bonus!


The Botanist Gin

A versatile dry gin crafted with a unique combination of 22 hand-foraged botanicals, The Botanist Gin is an elegant, smooth spirit.

Nolet’s Silver Gin

Nolet’s Silver gin’s is Made from a unique combination of botanicals never before used in gin, With notes of rose, peach and raspberry, Nolet’s silver gin is an excellent addition to a classic gin and tonic or any uncomplicated sip.


Brugal Supremo

Filtered three times and cask ages in White American oak casks for 2-4 years, Brugal Supremo is a distinct clear rum with all smoothness of a great vodka and all the character of a great rum.

Flor de caña extra seco

With aromas of sweet almonds and vanilla this light bodied, easily mixable rum is gluten free, sugar free and certified Kosher.

So now that you have some direction on what your clean cocktail base should look like, here are a few recipes that will make good use of my suggestions when you’re in the mood to mix something up yourself that will keep your taste buds happy and your clean consumption habits minimally compromised.  Don’t be alarmed that the drinks themselves aren’t all clear in color.  The ingredients are all super fresh and clean diet approved!  Cheers!


Gin Cocktail Recipe

Botanical sparkler


1.5 oz dry gin

1 oz fresh lemon juice

2 oz fresh lime juice

½ oz honey syrup (1 part honey 1 part water)

Splash of club soda

4 Lavender sprigs

Thin cucumber slices for garnish


Add gin, juices and honey syrup and 2 sprigs of lavender to a shaker with ice.  Shake well and pour into a short glass.  Top with club soda and garnish with the remaining rosemary sprig and a cucumber slice. 

Vodka Cocktail Recipe             

Grape expectations


2 cups green seedless grapes

2 oz gluten free vodka

3 oz fresh lemon juice

½ cup oz of unsweetened chilled ginger tea

Splash of club soda

Rosemary sprig for garnish


Puree grapes, lemon juice and ginger tea in a blender, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and into a short glass.  Add vodka and club soda and stir lightly.  Garnish with rosemary sprig. 

Tequila Cocktail Recipe

Fresca Verde


1 cucumber peeled and sliced

2 oz fresh lemon juice

2 oz unsweetened chilled ginger tea

½ oz honey syrup

Splash of club soda

Fresh mint for garnish


Add cucumbers, lemon juice and ginger tea to a blender and mix til combined.  Strain mixture into a shaker with ice, add honey syrup and shake well.  Pour mixture into a short glass and garnish with mint.

Rum Cocktail Recipe

Watermelon bliss


3 oz fresh watermelon juice

½ oz fresh lemon juice

¼ oz balsamic vinegar

2 oz dry rum

Pinch of black pepper

Fresh mint and frozen black cherries for garnish


Add juices, rum and vinegar to a shaker with ice.  Shake well, pour into a rocks glass, add 3-4 frozen cherries, sprinkle with black pepper and garnish with mint


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