The Basics Drinking Out

14 Health-Minded Turmeric Cocktails to Try Now

Used often in Asian and Southeast Asian cooking, turmeric is a beautiful spice that adds a vibrant orange-yellow hue to dishes. It has long served as a powerful healing herb with its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and bartenders around the country have caught on to all that turmeric can impart. Sure, drinking alcohol inherently isn't the healthiest thing for us, but maybe by including turmeric as an ingredient adds a little balance. If anything, it certainly can help to make a drink look pretty, and we're definitely excited for this direction in cocktails.

Can't make it to any of the bars serving these great turmeric drinks? Try making the Lunar Eclipse at home.

  • Royale Cup #3 (Pub Royale, Chicago)

    Pub Royale, part of the stable of successful bars from Heisler Hospitality, has its own version of a Pimm's Cup that was crafted with Chicago's Letherbee Distillers. This drink made by Adam Halyckyj combines the Royale Cup with tequila, turmeric, Thai five-spice, coconut and lime juice, offering a spritely, spicy and tropical cocktail. Since the bar tends to focus on whiskey and gin, adding the #3 cocktail quickly made it one of the most popular drinks on its list.

  • Shore Leave (Teardrop Lounge, Portland, Ore.)

    If this drink didn't have booze, you may think you grabbed it at a cold-pressed juicery. Fortunately, you get the added, um, benefit of Banks 7 Golden Age Blend rum. The bar team that collaborated to make the Shore Leave mixes the rum with cold-pressed carrot juice, orange juice, golden raisin/turmeric jam, citric acid and Bar Keep Chinese bitters. The result is a sweet and savory cocktail that evokes spices associated with fall.

  • Ugly Carrie (21 Greenpoint, New York City)

    The goal at 21 Greenpoint is to minimize as much kitchen waste as possible. And that means taking otherwise ugly vegetables and utilizing them in a variety of dishes. This version of a Bloody Mary made by beverage director Garrett Jones takes "ugly" carrots and juices them before combining that with Crop Harvest Earth Organic cucumber vodka, Ancho Reyes Verde liqueur, turmeric and lemon juice. So when you're looking to day-drink without too much guilt, this is a great option.

    (image: Ezra Pollard)

  • Crusta Moderno (Stratus Rooftop Lounge, Hotel Monaco, Philadelphia)

    A twist on the classic Crusta cocktail, this drink replaces brandy with Basil Hayden’s bourbon that's infused with turmeric and ginger for three hours. Beverage manager Ed Dattilo then adds Cointreau, lemon and a dash of Angostura bitters and shakes up the cocktail before serving it in a sugar-rimmed Martini glass with a lemon twist in the glass.

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  • Spicy Roots (Entente, Chicago)

    To balance out all of the boozy drinks on the menu at hot new Chicago restaurant Entente, beverage director Angie Silverberg came up with this nonalcoholic ginger-turmeric soda to offer as a mocktail for anyone looking for something a little healthier. The drink, a good N/A sub for a Moscow Mule, starts with a vegan sweet potato caramel. Silverberg then juices fresh turmeric and ginger for a spicy and tasty beverage, which will serve you well during post-holiday detoxing.

  • Chaman's Painkiller (Isla, Austin)

    Take a traditional Painkiller and make it a true pain reliever (in a sense) by adding turmeric juice to the mix. That's what Caer Ferguson, the bar manager at Isla's next-door sister spot, Péché, had in mind when making this drink. It features Pisco Portón, pineapple and orange juice, coconut cream and the turmeric juice, which stands up against the coconut.

  • The Final Say (Pok Pok PDX, Portland, Ore.)

    Dave Kaufman, the bar manager at highly acclaimed Thai restaurant Pok Pok PDX, takes inspiration from Prohibition-era cocktail the Last Word but changes things up to incorporate Pok Pok's turmeric som drinking vinegar. He follows the classic recipe with green Chartreuse and gin but adds fresh lime juice for balance and acidity. In lieu of the maraschino liqueur, he garnishes the drink, served up, with a cherry.

    (image: Dylan Myers)

  • Punjabi Passion (Junoon, New York City)

    If you can't decide between Asia and Brazil, this drink, made by beverage manager Hemant Pathak, has you covered. Served in an Old Fashioned glass garnished with a lime, the Punjabi Passion is an Indian riff on a Caipirinha with Pyrat rum, Amaro Nonino Quintessentia and calamansi lime puree. He muddles lime quarters in the glass with a house-blended spice sugar that’s comprised of turmeric, cilantro and chile before adding the rest of the ingredients.

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  • Nights in White Satin (Broken Shaker, Freehand Hotel, Chicago)

    A new addition to the cocktail menu at Broken Shaker, manager Scotty LoBianco gained inspiration as he watched Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. After tasting the mix of Olmeca Altos tequila, Luxardo bitter liqueur, turmeric, Malabar tonic and citrus, he felt like he had just eaten a space cake, like Deuce did in the movie while the song "Nights in White Satin" played.

  • Fiery Lion (Vinaigrette; Albuquerque, Austin, Santa Fe)

    At this "salad bistro," where much of the produce is either grown on its owner's farm or sourced from other nearby farms, there’s a cocktail called Fiery Lion that Plymouth gin and Grand Marnier and combines that with fresh-pressed orange juice, turmeric root and a splash of house-made grenadine for a riff on a Martini. If you're looking for something more like a classic "brunch" cocktail, there’s also a Turmeric Mimosa, which is a traditional Mimosa with a hint of fresh turmeric to give it an anti-inflammatory boost.

  • Gilded Lily (The 404 Kitchen, Nashville)

    This cocktail started as a turmeric tea, but then The 404 Kitchen's Galen Johnson realized that tea combined with rum would make an even better cocktail. It starts by hard-muddling two pieces of turmeric root in a shaker, then adding the rum, orange and lemon juice, coconut milk, Giffard Banane du Brésil liqueur and simple syrup before double-straining it into a coupe glass.

  • California Cold Remedy (Coast Kitchen, Timber Cove Resort, Jenner, Calif.)

    As the temps start to drop along the foggy and wild Sonoma Coast, the newly renovated Timber Cove Resort has the perfect way to warm up. Leif Goldfield's California Cold Remedy is a riff on a Hot Toddy that also adds a number of ingredients to help boost the immune system. Goldfield starts with Sonoma County Distilling Co. West of Kentucky bourbon and adds in honey, ginger syrup, turmeric syrup, lemon juice, hot water and a dash of cayenne pepper. It gets garnished with lavender and lemon peel to help you forget you're actually drinking a cocktail.

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  • Lunar Eclipse (Victor Tangos, Dallas)

    At upscale Dallas gastropub Victor Tangos, bartender Matt Ragan wanted to offer his guests a drink that could give them a nice turmeric kick. He infuses vodka with turmeric and lets it steep. For the drink, he adds fresh carrot juice for vitamin A, lemon juice for vitamin C, honey and a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters to help cut the carrot juice. It gets garnished with a celery stick, giving it a bit of a Bloody Mary feel. Anyone want to go to brunch?

  • Pirate Story (GreenRiver, Chicago)

    Inspired by the vibrant yellow hue of the sun and wanting to concoct a rejuvenating smoothie, GreenRiver head bartender Julia Momose starts with turmeric, ginger, lemon and banana. Next came Liquore Strega, Coco Lopez cream of coconut and CanaRío cachaça. After mixing the ingredients to create a herbaceous cocktail (or as she calls it, "ambrosial"), she takes a rosemary sprig and sprays a tincture of blade mace through a flame to singe the rosemary and bring out its aromas. Fresh nutmeg is then grated over top, and the drink is served with a short straw to essentially force your face close to the glass to take in all of the scents.

    (image: Kailley Lindman)