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New York bar offers spa treatments in a glass

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Too many martinis and you usually don't love a mirror the morning after. But a chi-chi New York nightclub is claiming a menu of fancy cocktails that work like a spa treatment. Try the Teddy Bear, with strawberry, cucumber, lime and a shot of vodka, to "resolve clog pores." Or the Raspberry Pepper Heat with tequila to "diminish fine lines." The Peach & Cream, with its shot of cognac, will "provide humanly glow and radience (sic)." At Provocateur, the menu appears to suggest, you'll emerge from your bender a beauty.

Of course, it's not really that simple, and nightclub co-owner Michael Satsky isn't proposing that patrons chug cocktails for a facial - though, for about $22 (U.S.) a pop, it would bring the club a tidy profit. But, as he points out, if you are going to drink, why not toss in a few antioxidants, some pomegranate and puréed cherry, and hope for the best?

"Right now it's the hottest thing," says Mr. Satsky, with trademark New Yorker understatement. And it's a clever mix for a "beauty-conscious" and mostly female clientele: Combining anti-aging products with booze and a girl's night out is a lot more fun than getting your blackheads extracted. The effects, however, are less immediate: "I don't think it's a quick thing," Mr. Satsky conceded, but added, "I'd rather have some nutrients in my beverages while the alcoholic properties are doing what they do."

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Does it work? There was a 2007 study by Thai and American researchers that found adding alcohol such as rum and vodka to strawberries and blackberries increased the antioxidant nutrients.

But Gordon Searles, a B.C. dermatologist, is skeptical about the concept of a face-saving tequila, "unless you are wearing the cocktail." (He suggests a splash of water, a good moisturizer and restraint at the bar is a better bet.) However, he'd be interested in seeing some science on it.

Even if the drinks won't "diminish wrinkles," blood oranges and cinnamon are healthier ingredients than soda pop. On the other hand, drinking too much dehydrates your skin, which may make any benefits a wash - to say nothing of the link between alcohol over-consumption and certain kinds of cancers and other health risks.

The creator of the skin-care line Borba, Scott-Vincent Borba, who helped design the drinks and provides the crystalline drink mix that gives the cocktails their beauty boost, compares the approach to sneaking blended-up broccoli into kids' food. The same magicalelixir is being used by a New York bakery, as an agent of "goodness" in age-defying cupcakes, he says. If you are going to have a martini anyway, Mr. Borba asks, "why not get something for nothing?"

So far, it appears to be a hit. Mr. Borba says he's getting a pile of interest from other nightspots and companies. "My e-mail box is overflowing."

At Provocateur, the decor includes Egyptian phoenix wings spanning 20 feet, a retractable glass roof and a dance floor that has year-round snow flurries. But getting in to start your beauty regime is complicated: You can try for a reservation on your next trip to New York, but almost all the people on the invite-only guest list are personal friends of the owners.

For backup, there's always drugstore exfoliant in your hotel bathroom.

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About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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