All About Açai

From jelly beans to yogurt, açai seems to be cropping up everywhere. The ingredient with the hard-to-pronounce name (by the way, it’s ah-sigh-ee) has lately even found its way into spirits. But what exactly is it? The berry-like fruit of an Amazonian palm, açai was barely known outside its native Brazil until about a decade ago. The demand for foods rich in antioxidants, which are believed to help prevent diseases like cancer, has made açai the super fruit of the day. Açai offers even more antioxidants than blueberries and pomegranates. Beware: hucksters have attempted to cash in on açai’s actual benefits by making dubious health claims. There is no evidence, for instance, that it aids weight loss.

If you want to sample açai’s earthy-sweet flavor in a cocktail, you have a few choices. The liqueur VeeV ($35) is distilled from wheat and infused with açai. (The company donates $1 for every bottle sold to the Sustainable Açai Project, which promotes the socially responsible harvesting of the fruit.) The Dutch-made Van Gogh introduced an açai-blueberry vodka ($27) in 2007. Not to be outdone, this winter Absolut rolled out the super-food-trifecta: a vodka flavored with açai, blueberry and pomegranate ($20).

Make an antioxidant-rich cocktail by mixing one of these alcohols with açai, blueberry or pomegranate juice. Finally, a drink worthy of the toast “to your health.”

Looking for an açai cocktail recipe? Try the VeeV Eco Mojito or the Absolut Berri Açaí Sour.

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