The Degenerate's Juice Cleanse: A Guide to Better Juicing With Booze

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[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Two and a half years ago, three slender, responsible, in-shape members of the Serious Eats team went on a juice cleanse, and I chortled from the rafters while they dealt with headaches, restlessness, and waterlogging.

Today, my paunch well padded on a steady diet of sandwiches and ice cream, notions of "moderation" thrown out the window long ago, I can almost see where they were coming from.

I still don't believe in juice cleanses, but I've tasted enough juices to know that the good ones are actually alright—especially when you add some gin. Yup: the best way I know to improve the flavor of a hardcore vegetable juice is with some hard alcohol. And with the five or six juices you drink over the course of a day when you're on a cleanse, you have the golden opportunity for a boozy journey around the world without ever changing out of your yoga pants.

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[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Okay, some legal whatever first: please for the love of god do not actually go on a juice cleanse with the intent of day-drinking all day. Doing so, at best, will throw your cleanse out of whack; at worst you get violently ill and your puke will be all the colors of the rainbow and your dry heaves will be festooned with parsley spittle. Don't try this at home, kids.

Now that that's out of the way, let's get started.

The Juice

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[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

The SE team chose Blueprint Cleanse as their juice of choice, which features a three-day cleanse of five juices daily plus cashew milk for dessert. Frankly the juices are pretty good, and when samples show up at the office, I like drinking them diluted down with club soda.

The Blueprint cleanse gives you a good range of juices for your boozing:

  • A green juice with romaine, celery, apple, spinach, and the like,
  • a sweeter pineapple, apple, and mint juice,
  • a thin, lightly sweetened "spicy lemonade,"
  • a robust red juice with beet, lemon, ginger, apple, and carrot,
  • and a thick cashew milk flavored with vanilla and cinnamon.

And hey, what with the beet negronis and mushroom cocktails we've been drinking, none of these ingredients are above meeting some liquor.

Good Ground Rules For Juice Boozing

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[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Good juice cocktails are just like any other, and there's a world of difference between dropping some lukewarm vodka in your green juice and making something that actually tastes good.

Remember to add ice to your juice cocktails. Some drinks benefit from being served less than ice-cold, but not these, and the dilution from the ice goes a long way towards bringing juice and booze together into one complete drink.

Bottled juices, even those with citrus added, lose some of their fresh citrus flavor. A spritz of lemon juice or a twist of orange peel acts as more than garnish—it adds the freshness and tartness some of the sweeter juices need.

The thicker the juice, the less noticeable the booze that goes into it, so more viscous juices may need more alchohol. That said, even small amounts of liquor go a long way—start with an ounce or less of booze per drink and add more to taste if needed. Remember, you're in this cleanse for the long haul, not to get wasted after your first kale margarita.

The Cocktails

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[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

The Green Juice: Blueprint has you start your day with a green juice that tastes a lot like a salad in a bottle. What does savory, lemony juice go well with? This is tequila's time to party. A spritz of lemon, some ice, and a decent blanco tequila bump up green juice's grassy flavor while toning down its unruly herbal pungency.

The Pineapple-Apple: Rum may be your first go-to for pineapple, but the mint and apple flavors of this juice were best served be a pineapple relative: mezcal. A small slurp of the stuff turns this innocent juice into a smoky, surprisingly complex drink, especially once you add some orange peel.

The Spicy Lemonade: If you have a bottle of King's Ginger liqueur lying around, pull it out pronto and get some in this diluted lemon juice. Another ginger liqueur like Domaine de Canton will also treat you right, though it'll be a little sweeter, so add slowly. This might have been my favorite of the lot.

The Red Juice: Blueprint's red juice is full of beet, apple, and carrot, with a little lemon and ginger. All those crisp flavors do well with gin, a heavier helping than other juices here since the beet is so inky. Go for a London dry like Broker's and add plenty of ice.

The Cashew Milk: This cashew milk has a horchata thing going on thanks to its cinnamon-vanilla spicing; try it with some funky dark rum. It's the last juice of your day according to Blueprint, which means you should make it a little fancy—some orange bitters are a nice touch.

What About You?

Have you ever tried liquoring up your juice-cleanse juices? Share your favorite recipes in the comments.

About the author: Max Falkowitz is the New York editor and ice cream maker in residence at Serious Eats. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.

Gin and juice provided for recipe testing.

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