In the Black: 5 Charcoal-Activated Cocktails to Add Some Noir to Your Night

Activated charcoal is thought to be detoxifying, purifying, even medicinal — perfect for keeping it clean as you get ready for bathing suit season. It’s no wonder, then, that restaurant mixologists and bartenders have gone to the dark side, adding activated charcoal to their cocktails for sexy black sips. Here are five photogenic charcoal-activated cocktails that will blow up your Instagram feed. To your health!

Not Kilgore’s Drano, Spoke & Steele, Indianapolis, Indiana
It’s been ten years since the death of iconic author Kurt Vonnegut, and to honor the local Indy legend, as well as giving a nod to the grand re-opening of the Vonnegut Museum there, many of the city’s restaurants have Vonnegut-inspired cocktails on their menus, including the charcoal-activated Not Kilgore’s Drano sip at this downtown restaurant. Kilgore Trout was a character in many of Vonnegut’s books, and in the Breakfast of Champions, Kilgore’s demise is brought on by drinking Drano. This dark sip is created with Bank Note Scotch (Vonnegut’s drink of choice was scotch and water), Rittenhouse Rye, lemon, thyme agave syrup, two drops of saline solution, and ¼ teaspoon of activated charcoal (a nod to Kilgore’s dark fate) – with a cayenne pepper and thyme garnish. Make a reservation at Spoke & Steele.

charcoal-activated cocktails

Black Tie White Noise at Beauty & Essex, New York, New York
The name of this interesting cocktail is a nod to David Bowie’s 18th album. The drink blends a host of ingredients — simple syrup, lemon zest, yellow chartreuse, Gentleman Jack Tennessee Whiskey, Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Scotch, and Angostura bitters. But the ingredient that really rocks this sip is one capsule of activated charcoal (and that whiskey, by the way, is filtered twice through charcoal). Make a reservation at Beauty & Essex.

charcoal-activated cocktails

Black Tai at Stripsteak by Michael Mina-Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii
Lead bartender Raymundo Jaime designed a cocktail program at Michael Mina’s newly-opened restaurant that creatively plays with island life cocktails, including his tropical Black Tai. The aloha cocktail is a nod to Hawaii’s celebrated Mai Tai, and the recipe calls for Appleton Estate VX Rum, lime juice, Black Sesame Orgeat, Pierre Ferrand Orange Curacao, brown sugar syrup, and, wait for it, a capsule of activated charcoal. It arrives garnished with a mint sprig. Make a reservation at Stripsteak by Michael Mina-Waikiki.

charcoal-activated cocktails

Health Kick at Watr at the 1 Rooftop, Miami, Florida
Sunday rooftop events are big here, and so is the Health Kick cocktail, a twist on the classic Moscow Mule — with a dose of wellness. The you-are-what-you-drink cocktail is made with house-infused black plum (high in antioxidants), Deep Eddy gluten-free vodka, fresh lime juice, and Fever Tree ginger beer — and activated charcoal, for kicks. Make a reservation at Watr at the 1 Rooftop.

charcoal-activated cocktails

Low Visibility at Alden & Harlow, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Bar director Seth Freidus collaborates with bartender Drexel Axeloons for the high-profile Low Visibility cocktail. It’s made with Citadelle, Absinthe, lemon — and a Black Mission fig and activated charcoal combo. “We amped things up with the gin, absinthe, and fresh lemon juice, so you have a dark and ominous looking cocktail that’s actually very bright on the palate,” says Freidus. A lemon peel and cherry jewel garnish color its world. Make a reservation at Alden & Harlow.

charcoal-activated cocktails

Have you been sipping charcoal-activated cocktails? Let us know here or over on FacebookG+InstagramPinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway. P.S.: Drink pics qualify as #dishpics.

Laurie Bain Wilson is a Boston-based journalist, author, and essayist who writes often about travel, food, and baseball. Find her on Twitter @laurieheather.

Photo credit: David Murphey (Stripsteak by Michael Mina-Waikiki).