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June 12, 2008

Cocktails in Detox

Canyon Ranch
Canyon Ranch's new Venetian bar.

by Mollie Chen

As someone who overindulges on a daily basis, I find the idea of detoxing--erasing a multitude of sins in a matter of days or hours--incredibly seductive. Earlier this spring, I jokingly asked one of my editors to send me to a destination spa for a week. Her solution was to throw me into a three-day juice cleanse so that I could write about it for our June spa supplement. Interesting experience, but not for me; life without food is just too boring. (Also not on my list: the detox foot patch. Ew.)

I've got detox on the mind for a few reasons, the first being that after weeks of nonstop gluttony, my jeans are too tight. Secondly, I recently reread Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and was guilted/inspired to give up Splenda (I'm stocking up on agave nectar) and processed foods (oh, how I'll miss my granola bars). And just yesterday, I met with the team from Canyon Ranch to talk about their plans for the future. The brand has big things coming up, literally: Their addition to the Canyon Ranch SpaClub at the Venetian, opening this September, will bring their total square footage to 135,000, making it the largest spa in the world. (Take that, Dubai.)

Since Canyon Ranchers are health experts, it was a happy surprise to hear what changes they have in store. For one thing, they're teetotalers no more. In the past, guests at their destination spas (or at least the ones I've talked to) have had to throw clandestine cocktail parties with contraband booze. This fall, though, their new Vegas and Miami restaurants will debut full liquor menus. Executive chef Scott Uehlein isn't about to offer just any old booze, though: All the spirits and beers are organic, and the wines are biodynamic, organic, or sustainable. Uehlein admits that putting the list together wasn't easy--"We tasted hundreds and hundreds of wines and a lot of them got spit out"--but ultimately he came up with a high-quality lineup: cuba libres with organic Papagayo white rum and homemade gin-and-tonics with Juniper Green organic gin and Fever-Tree tonic water. The menus aren't what you would expect from a spa, either. I'd happily take crispy shallot- and fennel-stuffed sardines and grilled duck breast with fig confit butter over a Big Mac any day. And Uehlein reinforced that Splenda was not doing me any favors: "Yeah, that stuff is bad," he said. "Stay away from it."

Since there are no spa retreats in my future, I'm sticking to my modified detox plan. Taking a cue from Canyon Ranch, I'm making it a flexible one--I'll be eating plenty of grass-fed beef burgers this summer, and just last night, I had a cocktail at 60 Thompson's rooftop bar with not a twinge of guilt.


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