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The health guru chef-writer dishes on her favorite cocktail upgrade for entertaining friends and family this summer.

Danica Lo
July 13, 2018

Leaning into wellness and indulging in cocktail hour don't have to be mutually exclusive. We recently caught up with chef and health expert Candice Kumai over drinks—and she has an easy tip for anyone looking for a delicious way to make sure you're serving up (and drinking) gorgeous drinks this summer, without loading up on lots of extra sugar: stock your bar cart with flavored vodka.

How flavored vodka fits into a clean eating regimen:

Flavored vodkas are extremely versatile and almost foolproof. I’m all about keeping it simple and clean—I feel that way when it comes to my cooking and cocktail making. Satisfying as a standalone, flavored vodkas spice up simple cocktails such as a vodka soda. Other spirits like rum, tequila and whisky—hello fireball—offer flavored versions too. However, vodka really pioneered the initial wave of flavored spirits and has cornered the market for nearly three decades. These days it’s clear that brands are being more thoughtful when it comes to flavors—a store shelf that used to be simply orange, strawberry and raspberry, now offers the likes of ginger zest, cucumber & mint, and honeycrisp apple. There are so many flavored vodkas on the market now and my tip is to look for brands that use natural ingredients to keep the sugar level down.

Candice Kumai's favorite?

I love my Belvedere Vodka Ginger Zest! It’s a fresh blend of ginger and juicy spring lemons with a touch of grapefruit, creating a must-have new flavor for a variety of cocktails. Ginger is one of my favorite spices and is on trend year-round. Plus lemon and grapefruit are citrus flavors we all love. This blend is the most refreshing combination—perfect for this time of the year. My personal fave is the Belvedere Vodka Ginger Zest Spritz—but the great thing about Ginger Zest is that it's great on its own over a couple of ice cubes, too.

Kumai's pro tip for entertaining this summer? Floral ice cubes (they're easy!).

Summer is about entertaining and I love hosting intimate cocktail parties for my friends and fam. I just celebrated the beginning of summer with my friends in Brooklyn on a rooftop, and in LA in the backyard and in San Diego at the beach and they all love the new Ginger Zest vodka. I’m a big believer in presentation and I like to glitz up my flavored vodka cocktails with easy-to-make floral ice cubes. The night before your party, add to your ice cube tray fresh ingredients like lemon zest and pretty flower petals. It’s extremely easy and can be done quickly. The best part is that you won’t spend more than a couple of bucks in these and they completely elevate your party. Another tip is to make your cocktail evening interactive by asking your friends to help make the cocktails. You can easily prep all the ingredients 20 to 30 minutes before your guests arrive and then have a girlfriend create the cocktail with you—each one can be a bit unique with different ice cube sizes, garnishes and glassware.

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