It’s 5 pm. You’re at happy hour. You just realized that you haven’t eaten a vegetable all day, and you have no intention of ordering broccoli at a bar. The good thing is that some intrepid liquor producers and bartenders have decided you should have your greens and drink them, too.
Enter the rise of the superfood cocktail, the unlikely intersection of quinoa and vodka (we’re not kidding, vodka made from quinoa is now officially a thing). The trend has been around for the past few years — Tanya’s, the UK’s first superfood bar, opened in 2014 and places like New York’s Apotheke and Los Angeles’s Westbound have been slinging everything from duck fat to golden milk into their drinks — but lingered in the background. Now, as more consumers emphasize knowing where their food is coming from, they’re demanding the same from their cocktails. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that cutting away sugary syrups and sodas means you’re —probably — less likely to wake up with a hangover.
Given how ubiquitous kale has become, it’s really no surprise it’s been making its rounds in the liquor world. Love it or hate it, the leafy green is now being juiced to stand in for less healthy mixers — think upgraded Tom Collins, martinis, craft cocktails and margaritas. Yes, margaritas. While it might not fully channel Mexican food vibes, the kale’s herbaceous, peppery notes will complement a nice tequila (key word: nice). We also don’t think your traditional marg will load you up with as much calcium, vitamin A, iron and vitamin K as our emerald friend.
I can only assume they were serving spirulina cocktails in King Triton’s palace. The vitamin-packed algae give drinks a coveted blue-green color without overwhelming in terms of flavor. Probably for the best, because spirulina is exactly the same thing as you’d find on top of a pond. Appetizing? Maybe not. Nutritious? I’d bet my Kale Collins on it. Spirulina is high in protein, omega fatty acids, and boosts energy levels. How you drink it is really up to you. Since it’s relatively tasteless, you can sprinkle it on top of your beverage of choice or stir it with some vodka, coconut water, and lemon or lime juice.
Spirulina’s not the only one adding a pop of color. Turmeric, the new battle cry of the wellness crowd, has infiltrated the drinking world. Formerly a spice used in Southeast Asian cuisine, its myriad of anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits has rendered it a modern darling. You’ve seen it in golden milk lattes, you’ve probably seen it pop up in one of your dishes, and now it’s sharing space with vodka. There’s a lot you can do with it, from using coconut milk and rum for a spiked horchata, or playing around with a classic Moscow Mule.
Other standouts? Beet, matcha and pomegranate have all found an audience. To make a pitch-black drink for Halloween (or to match your mood after a long week, we won’t judge), sprinkle in activated charcoal, which has been loosely linked to eliminating hangovers.
This shift to healthy indulgences marks an overall transition in what — and how — consumers eat and drink. People are starting to want an overlap between their health goals and their indulgences. Or maybe we’re just busier than we used to be, and what’s better than a multi-tasking drink that gets you your daily veg while helping you unwind?