“Eat your veggies” takes on a whole new meaning when the clock strikes five. That’s the witching hour for cocktails, a time when a post-work boost of energy, is imperative and the desire to unwind and enjoy a spirited drink peaks. Melding these two competing inclinations are new beverages at restaurants around the country, where bartenders and mixologists are crafting energizing beverages from ingredients that soothe a weary, work-worn soul yet restore the beat to your feet. Veggies, fruits, and other curative ingredients add verve to an ever-evolving cocktail scene.
Jon Augustin, beverage director for True Food Kitchen knows a thing or two about nutrient-rich ingredients. His drinks menus reflect the restaurants’ health-driven, seasonal ethos and incorporate current flavor trends into cocktails. Coconut water, pineapple, and blueberries make regular appearances for their abilities to hydrate and help with muscle recovery, “but,” says Augustin, “most of our guests tend to look for items like cucumber, celery, and tomato.” He steers away from added sugar, preferring starchier fruits and vegetables, like carrots that naturally sweeten a cocktail. Augustin is seeing more requests than ever for turmeric and ginger — could a turmeric-ginger piña colada be the hot cocktail for spring? Until it is, these healing cocktails are at their seasonal pinnacle. Get ‘em before it’s too late.
24 Carrot Magic, Faith & Flower, Los Angeles, California
Good-for-you ingredient: Carrots
Sharing a name with the antioxidant beta-carotene that gives them a brilliant orange hue, carrots are juicing superstars. Director of bar programs Ryan Wainwright and Faith & Flower’s lead bartender Darwin Pornel crafted an elixir designed to highlight the carrot’s sweetness but added a seasonal twist to this perennial favorite veg. Paired with the dark fruity notes of Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum and bold spiciness of Geijer Glogg, the drink’s edgy character comes from the Fernet’s bitterness and bright splashes of ginger and lime juices. Carrot is the drink’s magic touch, permitting the big-shouldered “players” to shine as individuals while giving the drink a soft landing on the palate. Make a reservation at Faith & Flower.
Apple Orchard Sour, True Food Kitchen, Atlanta (+ multiple locations)
Good-for-you ingredient: Apples
All True Food Kitchen recipes adhere to the principles of True Food Kitchen’s co-founder, Dr. Andrew Weil and his well-regarded anti-inflammatory diet principles. With the good doctor’s methods of selecting and preparing ingredients at the forefront of consideration, beverage director Jon Augustin considers the season when designing a new cocktail, as well as an ingredient’s anti-inflammatory properties. His drinks are all designed for the “wellness aware” and follow Dr. Andrew Weil’s general principles of wellness. The Apple Orchard Sour deftly balances freshly muddled pear and apple juiced right behind the bar with zingy lemon zest. The combo is a quaffable abundance of flavonoids and carotenoids, softened with mulled brandy. The freshly ground cinnamon topper is the anti-inflammatory icing on the cake. Make a reservation at True Food Kitchen.
Chicken Soup Hot Toddy, JIMMY at the James, New York, New York
Good-for-you ingredient: Chicken soup
If the sweeping city views from the 14-foot windows of this 18th-floor establishment are not enough to cure what ails you, JIMMY at the James co-owner and mixologist Johnny Swet knows what will: chicken soup and a shot of gin. That’s the not-so secret, one-two punch to his Chicken Soup Hot Toddy. Gin, used for centuries as an herbal medicine, meets its match in broth made from chicken bones. With a global reputation as a restorative beverage, cure-all, and medicine without the medicine, chicken soup takes the win as a folkloric (and M.D.-certified) icon of wellness. Swet even tosses in housemade celery bitters and lemon juice to make this drink irresistible to those with even the slightest tickle at the back of the throat. “With this drink, you can stay social all winter,” joked Swet. Make a reservation at JIMMY at the James.
Monkey Flip, Salt House, San Francisco, California
Good-for-you ingredient: Egg
Post-workout or post-work, nothing nourishes the body quite as well as a plate or eggs and a side of fresh fruit. Make that a whole raw egg whipped into a frenzy with charred banana into something that resembles an egg cream topped with toasted sesame dust and you start to get the drift of the Monkey Flip. Salt House’s bar manager Gabe Cothes had a blast building this anytime cocktail, throwing in some Fernet Branca as a balm to soothe irritated bellies. And the Gosling’s Black Seal rum? “That is strictly for balance and a little peace of mind. ‘Ahhh, everything is okay,’” said Cothes. Make a reservation at Salt House.