What if all of our boozy brunch drinks made us feel great without the mandatory face-plant-into-the-couch nap that follows? Well, put away your over-garnished Bloody Marysand spiked coffee concoctions, and start making a brunch cocktail that will work for you.
Enter the elixir, a drink that’s both classic and trendy in today’s slay-all-day society.
In ancient Greece, elixirs were thought to give one immortality. And although a well-made elixir can certainly solve for everyday maladies such as an upset stomach or headache, eternal vitality is a bit of a stretch. They can, however, boost your energy, help your organs function and tickle your taste buds.
Along the Beeten Path (image: Linnea Covington)
“I like to include something healthy into something indulgent,” says Alexis Osborne, a bartender at the restaurant Acorn in Denver. “I love the idea of playing with healthy ingredients.”
For inspiration, Osborne wanders the aisles of the natural grocery store in town to see what they have in stock. From there, she starts thinking about what flavors go with what spirits. The result of Osborne’s “healthy” drinks can be seen on Acorn’s cocktail list. For example, the Along the Beeten Path is a beverage that features beets, lemon and nutmeg (get the recipe here); and The Fennel Countdown is made with fennel, clove and apricot (get the recipe here).
She has also whipped up drinks featuring the anti-inflammatory spice turmeric, heart-healthy cinnamon and liver-cleaning dandelion root. “Nutmeg is considered a brain tonic and helps the liver and kidney detox,” says Osborne, who keeps a list of each ingredient along with its health benefits. “Apricot, for instance, is a treasure chest of antioxidants, and it’s also good for bone strength.”
The Fennel Countdown (image: Linnea Covington)
To make your own special elixir, you want to start with a healthy base—ingredients that add flavor to the drink but also benefit your mind and body. Think cocktail-friendly additions that work well with spirits such as fennel—which is good for bones, treating heart disease and possibly fighting cancer—or figs, a fruit high in fiber that contains phenol, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as other nutrients that can help lower cholesterol, prevent coronary disease and help with weight loss.
Jennifer Peters of Denver’s Just BE Kitchen, an organic breakfast and lunch eatery, recently added a slew of feel-good elixirs to her menu. Each one features clean spirits that fit into a paleo and gluten-free, sugar-free lifestyle. Right now, the star of the menu is the Kombucha Mimosa, which is made with various types of kombucha (get the recipe here). For example, a fruity flavored one spiked with maca root—a Peruvian plant that’s high in vitamin C, copper and iron—has a lot of fiber and promotes female health.
“People go crazy over the Kombucha Mimosas,” says Peters. “The best part is you’re getting probiotics in your bubbles.”
Fig and Dandelion (image: Linnea Covington)
Anyone can make this quick cocktail at home using only two ingredients (one part kombucha to two parts sparkling wine poured into flute) and tailoring the drink to personal flavor and what sort of health benefits you’re looking for.
Another way to give a drink a boost is through the ice cube. Consider skipping the boring water-based cube and instead freeze a square of earthy and bright beet juice for some added antioxidants, or a lemon-mint mixture to aide tummy health, or even juice some ginger to give a beverage a wholesome bite that can help with ingestion and osteoarthritis. Just make sure whatever ingredient you’re making ice out of goes well with the whole drink.
“We kind of think of drinking as, Oh, we need to restrict ourselves because it’s a dirty little thing that you have to hide,” says Peters. “But, look, not everything in life has to be about sacrifice. Here’s a way to have clean spirits with clean food.”