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Kombucha & Fresh Juice Cocktails

Kombucha & Fresh Juice Cocktails

On New Year’s Eve, the booze flows with reckless abandon. There’s just something about this holiday, more than all the others combined it seems, that convinces revelers to drink to excess. This over indulgence is culturally freed from judgment, and often encouraged by open bar specials at pubs and restaurants, and especially at house parties with virtually limit-free imbibing. As the clock hands advance towards midnight, the atmosphere reaches a frenzied pinnacle, with confetti, balloon drops, Champagne toasts and kisses. Often, what was up until that point a well-maintained buzz swells into full on inebriation. Needless to say, the hangovers on New Year’s Day are often not pretty.

No stranger to partying myself, I’ve been wondering lately: is there a smarter way to drink? One that still allows for that euphoric exuberance we chase on New Year’s, but doesn’t leave us feeling quite so poisoned at the break of day?

Two health-forward beverages dominated the food scene in 2016: kombucha and fresh juice. Their health benefits, from mood enhancement to weight loss, captivated food enthusiasts’ imaginations, and the new flavors they’ve introduced are exciting as well. What if, I began thinking, kombucha and cold pressed juices replaced sugary soda and pasteurized bottled juices as cocktail mixers? Could this help prevent or lessen the effects of hangovers? And more importantly, what kinds of innovative combinations and extraordinary elixirs could be created with this new category of ingredient?

I turned to two experts in these fields, Ross Martin-Wells of Rijuice, an organic cold-pressed juice company from Lancaster, Pa., and Joe Reichenbacher of Pittsburgh’s Red Star Kombucha, for advice and recipes.

Kombucha

This is Red Star’s basic formula for kombucha cocktails:

  • Start with an aromatic, like citrus or a piece of fresh herb in the bottom of the glass
  • Add dash of simple syrup
  • Muddle all of that and shake with ice and a shot of liquor
  • Strain over fresh ice and top with a generous splash of kombucha

 

Joe says:

“For pairings, I like to put fruity kombuchas such as Blueberry Lavender or Cranberry Ginger with a good vodka or light rum. I’ve been going through a lot of bottles of Maggie’s Farm White Rum lately. I also love Wigle Whiskey’s Landlocked, a spirit distilled from honey mixed with Spicy Turmeric kombucha. But you can’t go wrong with Original Green Tea kombucha and any booze. It’s great for sassing up a punch bowl, too. If you’re not trying to impress anybody, the boilermaker is your friend. A healthy shot dropped into a pint of top-shelf local kombucha is infinitely quaffable.”

Can kombucha help offset the negative effects of booze, though?

“It’s not a myth that kombucha helps offset a hangover. The probiotics plus the slight caffeine and alcohol content make it more versatile than bubbly water, and the sugar is far lower than in soda. So, the hangover is less to start with, and for me, another glass of kombucha in the morning sweeps the last bit away and I’m ready to go!” 

Fresh Juice

Rijuice’s fresh juice cocktail tips:

  • Be bold: The key thing to remember about cold-pressed juices is that they are generally a blend, so they have complex flavors. This means when mixing with them, use robust flavors to achieve a balanced beverage.
  • Keep an open mind: Juices have their own very unique flavors, so when you use them as mixers, the result won’t taste exactly like the classic version of the cocktail. Instead, it will have several added layers of complexity, so enjoy the drink as an experience unto itself.
  • Fresh juice makes great ice cubes, which are especially good in sangria, Tom Collins’, and other fizzy spritzers.

 

Ross says:

“I find the added depth that fresh juice brings to cocktails really exciting, and enjoy seeing the looks of contemplation on the faces of peoples who are drinking the cocktails. I find they do very well at parties!”

But will fresh juice help prevent a hangover?

“In a cocktail, you are not going to changing the alcohol content so you won’t change a person’s reaction to it. However, by taking advantage of cold-pressed juices and their nutrients and vitamins on a regular basis, you improve the function of your liver and other toxin mediators, so it processes through your body faster.”

So, as you prepare your at-home bar for pregaming or partying this New Year’s Eve, try a drink or two made with your local brand of kombucha or cold-pressed juice. The outlook is good that it might actually help ease a hangover, and if nothing else, there will be plenty of novel and refreshing flavor combinations to experiment with.

Rijuice Vesper

Makes 1 drink

  • 2 oz gin (use something very dry, a London style gin, or anything low on botanicals)
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 0.5-1 oz of Rijuice “A Million Bucks” flavor or another juice that contains kale, apple and lemon

Pour all ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker, and shake it for at least 12 seconds, until the outside of the shaker is very, very cold.

Strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass and serve up.

Rijuice Manhattan

Makes 1 drink

  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Rijuice “Red Rose” flavor or another juice that contains some combinations of beet, pineapple, apple, carrot and ginger
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1/4 oz sweet vermouth

Combine all ingredients with 2-3 ice cubes in a mixing glass. Mix gently with a cocktail spoon.

Strain over fresh ice in a chilled rocks glass.

Thyme To Die

Makes 1 drink

  • 1 2-inch sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz Wigle Whiskey White Rye
  • 4 oz Red Star Original Green Tea Kombucha or another plain kombucha

Muddle the thyme with simple syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the whiskey and a few ice cubes and shake vigorously.
Strain over fresh ice in a chilled rocks glass. Top with the kombucha.

Better Than Valium

Makes 1 drink

  • 1 thick slice of orange with peel
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1.5 oz white rum
  • 6 oz Red Star Blueberry Lavender Kombucha or another similarly flavored kombucha

Muddle orange slice with simple syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the rum and a few ice cubes and shake vigorously.

Strain over fresh ice in a chilled rocks glass. Top with the kombucha.

Photos within the article by Brian Elledge – Top photo by Emily Kovach – Recipes courtesy of Rijuice and Red Star Kombucha


Emily Kovach is the Web Editor at Spoonful Magazine. She’s a fan of oysters, dumplings, nearly every kind of cheese, hoppy beers, and gin cocktails. While she’s intrigued by the incredible food scene in her hometown of Philadelphia, her favorite meals are at home, shared on the back porch with her cozy little family and their dog Jacket.

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