The Basics Drinking Out

13 Healthy Cocktails to Drink in Bars Now

Beet Shrub at Catbird Seat in Nashville. Image: Anthony Tahlier

Just because a drink contains booze doesn't automatically make it unhealthy. In an age of green smoothies, kale salads and açaí bowls, bartenders are taking notice, adding nutrient-rich ingredients to their creations. These 13 drinks from restaurants and bars around the country help bring a little healthy boost to your buzz.

Can't visit any of the bars serving these great healthy drinks? Try making the Federal Ave. Swizzle from this list at home.

  • Miyagi Mule (Hinoki & the Bird, Los Angeles)

    After realizing that mixing cocktails with actual tobiko (tiny fish eggs often used in sushi) in a play on a Moscow Mule was pretty damn nasty, bar manager Gregory Westcott switched his attention to boba. The Miyagi Mule utilizes a vodka infused with lemongrass ginger green tea and adds a spicy wasabi boba, cool cucumber juice and ginger. The drink is at once spicy and soothing, and best of all, no fish were harmed in the process.

  • Betty Sue (Gertie's Bar, Nashville)

    Christina Cabrera, the beverage director at Gertie’s Bar at The 404 Hotel, has created a seasonal cocktail menu based on movies filmed in Nashville. One of those, the Betty Sue, inspired by “Coal Miner's Daughter,” about the life of singer Loretta Lynn, looks like fresh-pressed carrot juice but also contains Plymouth gin, Yellow Chartreuse, ginger, lemon juice and a hint of absinthe to round it out. Adding to the healthy factor: The drink gets garnished with a sprig of fresh parsley.

  • Saints Last Hope (Little Giant, Portland, Maine)

    At Little Giant, the West End gourmet grocery meets neighborhood restaurant—and younger sibling to acclaimed Portland Hunt + Alpine Club downtown—bar manager Max Overstrom-Coleman came up with this simple and easy yet utterly refreshing blanco tequila cocktail that incorporates Pok Pok Som tamarind drinking vinegar, lime juice and celery juice that are combined in a turmeric salt-rimmed Collins glass. Can you think of a better way to freshen up a cold Maine winter night?

  • Doctor's Orders (Laurel Tavern, Hermosa Beach, Calif.)

    If it wasn’t for the vodka, you'd want to toss this drink back every morning for its natural medicinal effects. But add vodka, and, well, you'd still want to toss it back every day—just maybe not in the morning. The Doctor's Orders is made of cold-pressed juice (kale, spinach and apple) along with lemon and pineapple juices, coconut water, basil and simple syrup. Oh, yeah, and Tito's vodka.

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  • Second Fiddle (Beatnik, Chicago)

    Matthew Reeves

    Shortly after Beatnik opened in late summer, this cocktail became the restaurant's best-seller. The drink is a riff on a Whiskey Sour, with Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky straight bourbon and both lemon and pineapple juice and a turmeric syrup. Everything’s shaken and strained over ice into a double rocks glass half-rimmed with sumac salt and garnished with a pineapple wheel.

  • Beets by Dave (Geraldine's, Austin)

    Sarah Jacober Spitzer

    Jägermeister liqueur generally conjures images of blackout partying, so to think it could be the base of a healthy cocktail seems absurd. But when you add in Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, beet and lemon juices, and sarsaparilla bitters (plus a little Yellow Chartreuse for good measure), you just might have a chance of remembering the night.

  • Lost Feliz (Little Dom's, Los Angeles)

    To play an opposing hand to the many fruit-driven drinks on Little Dom's cocktail list, bartender Cameron Dodge-White came up with the very vegetal Lost Feliz. The drink starts with basil-infused Loft & Bear vodka and adds house-made celery shrub, clover honey and Champagne vinegar. A bit of pink Himalayan salt rounds it out before the glass gets garnished with a zucchini wedge. "It’s like a vegetable garden in a glass," says Dodge-White.

  • Avocado Gimlet (Moxie's, Dallas)

    Start with rosemary- and olive-infused gin, add a healthy dose of avocado, fresh lime juice, sweet apple-flavored apfelkorn liqueur and some simple syrup, and you have a healthier riff on a gin Gimlet.

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  • What's Up Doc (Tavern62 by David Burke, New York)

    Originally created as a somewhat nutritious pre- and post-race drink for runners and their cheering section at the 2017 New York Marathon, the What's Up Doc, made with carrot juice, ginger beer, lime and Ketel One vodka, has found a permanent home on the restaurant's cocktail list.

  • Active Wear (Pacific Hideaway, Huntington Beach, Calif.)

    At Huntington Beach’s Pacific Hideaway, bartender Casey Lyons designed a drink you'll want just after leaving the gym. The bright, herbaceous Active Wear, made with Hendrick's gin, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, sparkling sake, lime and cucumber juices, and ginger syrup, is a play on a London Mule, but served in a ceramic sake mug and garnished with chopsticks and a cucumber skin to evoke a sushi roll.

  • Federal Ave. Swizzle (RiNo Yacht Club, Denver)

    Bartender McLain Hedges created the Federal Ave. Swizzle—Fords gin, sake, coconut water, turmeric juice, lime juice and Eastern medicine syrup (fresh ginger, kaffir lime, rosewater, Korean chili threads, cardamom, lemongrass and mint)—at RiNo Yacht Club in The Source hotel to celebrate the city's ethnic diversity. The clean, well-balanced cocktail comes off as both familiar and exotic, and, as Hedges says, "It's a cocktail that feels good to drink."

  • Drink Your Vegetables (Ever Bar, Los Angeles)

    In this twist on a Margarita, head bartender Dan Rook starts with Espolòn reposado tequila and Cointreau liqueur, lime juice and agave. So far, normal enough, but then things get interesting with the addition of a Chinese broccoli shrub that's infused with ginger, cayenne pepper, orange peel, fennel seed, rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar and cane sugar. Then, in lieu of a salt rim, he uses pulverized Korean chili flakes to give the drink a kick of heat. This drink will definitely get your blood pumping.

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  • Beet Shrub (The Catbird Seat, Nashville)

    Beet Shrub at Catbird Seat in Nashville. Anthony Tahlier

    Beverage director Matthew Poli set out to create a nonalcoholic shrub when he came up with what he simply calls the Beet Shrub. But when he added booze to it, he realized it was infinitely more delicious. With beets being naturally earthy yet sweet, he wanted to balance that with the savory aspects vinegar. He starts with the beet juice, adds maple sherry-barrel-aged vinegar, peppercorns, thyme and sugar to make the shrub, then mixes that with London dry gin and soda water in an Old Fashioned glass over crushed ice and garnishes it with an orange peel. It’s sweet, savory and simple.