Cocktail concoctions that may have you drinking to your health

la-times

http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-health-drinks-20141227-story.html

Vodka infused with acai. Sangria loaded with Mediterranean blood orange and pomegranate. Cosmopolitans concocted with prickly pear cactus and aloe. Fresh juniper and lavender blended into organic gin made on a 70-acre biodynamic farm in Colorado.

Some of the alcoholic beverages hitting the market convey an aura of healthfulness not generally attributed to drinking alcohol, especially during the most socially active time of the year.

“Every other food group has been conquered by the organic movement, and [alcohol] has been the last holdout,” said Paul Abercrombie, author of “Organic, Shaken & Stirred: Hip Highballs, Modern Martinis, and Other Totally Green Cocktails.” “People have been worried about what’s on their plate for a long time, but nobody was thinking about what was in their glasses.”

That’s changing as liquor makers add a little nutrition to their tipple. Meantime, the drinkers are looking to cold-pressed juices and cleanse formulas to concoct over-21 drinks. Amber Blumer, founder of Skinny Lemon, which sells the Master Cleanse formula of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne, says her product is being used as a vodka mix. The additional electrolytes and minerals in True Nopal’s cactus water have led the brand to devise Cosmopolitan cocktail recipes with its product. The extracts of African mango, pomegranate and the mushroom ganoderma in Nuvia’s instant coffee have led to it being mixed with Kahlua.

“A question I hear a lot is, ‘Can I incorporate a super-food into a cocktail?'” said registered dietitian Manuel Villacorta, author of the coming “Whole Body Reboot.” “Ironically, they want to know if drinking healthier can combat the effects of drinking.”

No one should confuse these cocktails with broccoli; they are not health foods.

“My concern is that these drinks can lead to a false sense of security,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “Everybody’s trying to use the buzzwords of organic and natural, but they don’t really enter into the science of a hangover. Certain things can be helpful. Migraines can be precipitated by the sulfites in wine, so organic wine can be better for you.”

Which doesn’t mean people are not trying to up the real or imagined healthful quotient of their drinks.

“I was selling my Italian ice at a farmer’s market when people said they mixed it with liquor and didn’t get hangovers,” said Natalie Susi, a former teacher in San Diego. Now she sells Bare Organic Mixers — agave, lemon and lime, pomegranate and cranberry — for what she describes as “clean cocktails.”

There’s also Paleta Potables Holiday ‘Nog, with almonds, cashews, coconut and cardamom; add brandy or bourbon. Or Bon Affair, a sparkling wine with grape seed extract and electrolytes, and half the calories of wine.

Moderation, however, is everything — even if toasting 2015 involves a small-batch, handcrafted and biodynamically cultivated cocktail.

“If you’re going to have 19 organic daiquiris, it’s not going to be any better for you,” said Abercrombie. “But if it makes you feel better about the mastodon-sized hangover you’re going to have the next day, go for it.”

Whatever your poison, pace yourself and stay hydrated.