Spirited Conversations: To your health
With life so busy, it’s easy to be distracted, losing track of what is best for our bodies. It can be difficult to find that balance of making healthy choices and still having fun, so why not marry the two?
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We are almost one month into 2020, and I thought it would be a good time for a friendly little reminder about those fun little goals we set for ourselves for the new year. With life so busy, it’s easy to be distracted, losing track of what is best for our bodies. It can be difficult to find that balance of making healthy choices and still having fun, so why not marry the two? This month I have some cocktails that you could enjoy with or without alcohol, and all have a “do your body good” key ingredient.
THE BENEFITS of fresh-pressed ginger juice are almost too many to name. Ginger is believed to improve digestion, ward off nausea, reduce muscle pain and soreness and even cure acne and bad breath!
As a ginger-heavy cocktail, the Moscow Mule remains a crowd favorite, but its key ingredient, ginger beer, is commonly chock full of sugar, sometimes up to 28 grams per can! The sugar outweighs the benefits of this super root.
Making your own ginger beer provides all the positive attributes without the excess sugar. Utilizing honey as a sweetener also lowers the drink’s glycemic content.
HOMEMADE GINGER BEER
- 3/4 ounce fresh pressed ginger juice
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 1-1/2 ounces local honey syrup (5 parts honey to 1 part hot water)
- Pinch cayenne
- 3-1/2 ounces good-quality club soda (like Fever Tree)
Add juices, honey and cayenne to mixing glass without ice. Shake and pour into highball glass, fill with ice and top with club soda.
>> Garnish: Thin sliced ginger lengthwise
>> Pro tip: If ginger is too fibrous for your home juicer, purchase fresh ginger juice at a juicery, or visit Whole Foods Kahala, where your store-purchased ginger will be juiced for a $3 charge.
MATCHA HAS become mainstream, and for good reason! Matcha is packed with antioxidants and rich in vitamins, believed to fight cancer, boost metabolism, detoxify and calm the mind. A single cup is equivalent to drinking 10 cups of green tea, because when you drink it you are ingesting the actual leaf and all the nutrients it holds.
This drink is a refreshing twist on a gin Collins, with a float of matcha tea on top, both for looks and that beautiful matcha flavor. Pure matcha oxidizes quickly, so the color will turn if you make it too early and let it sit.
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup (1 part sugar dissolved in 1 part water)
- 1 ounce old Tom gin (a sweeter gin, like Hayman’s or Anchor)
- 3 ounces sparkling coconut water or KeVita Lime Mint Coconut Probiotic
- 1-1/2 ounces prepared matcha tea
Pour lemon juice, syrup and gin into highball glass; fill with ice. Add sparkling coconut water; stir. Float matcha tea on top.
>> Garnish: Origami crane perched on rim of glass
YERBA MATE is a tea made from the twigs and leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant and is widely consumed in South America. The leaves are dried over a hot fire, then steeped.
Yerba mate is rich in antioxidants and nutrients, said to boost mental clarity and focus. It contains slightly less caffeine than a cup of coffee. It is slightly earthy with a touch of bitterness, perfect for a whiskey smash-style cocktail. The tea acts as the “bitters” in the drink, while keeping it refreshing and very approachable.
This cocktail debuted at the now-shuttered Grondin French-Latin Kitchen, a quaint restaurant in Chinatown.
- 7 to 8 mint leaves
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce local honey syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1-1/2 ounce bourbon
- 2 ounces chilled yerba mate tea
Press mint with lemon and honey in tall glass. Add bitters and bourbon, fill with ice and top with yerba mate.
>> Garnish: Mint bouquet
YOGURT IN cocktails? Absolutely. The tangy creaminess of yogurt adds a rich texture to drinks, along with bright acidity, two things that beneft cocktails. One serving of Greek yogurt is packed with protein, healthy bacteria in the form of probiotics, calcium and B12.
This drink was inspired by the flavors of tzatziki, the tangy Greek yogurt and cucumber-based sauce. This is more of a savory cocktail with bright herbal notes and freshness from the cucumber. It might sound odd, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
- 3 cucumber wheels
- Dill sprig
- 1 ounce lime juice
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup (1 part sugar dissoved in 1 part water)
- 2 teaspoons Greek yogurt
- 1-1/2 ounces blanco tequila
- 1/2 ounce lime liqueur (such as Citronge)
Muddle (crush) cucumber and dill with lime juice and simple syrup. Add yogurt and liquors with ice. Shake and strain over ice into bucket glass.
>> Garnish: Dill sprig and long cucumber ribbon on bar pick
Chandra Lucariello is director of mixology for Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits of Hawaii. Ingredient note: The liquors and liqueurs used in these recipes are widely available from Oahu liquor stores and some supermarkets.