Drink to Your Health

Cocktail ingredients and spirits are more nutritious than ever.

Jess Mayhugh - November 2018

Drink to Your Health

Cocktail ingredients and spirits are more nutritious than ever.

Jess Mayhugh - November 2018

Gin Fizz, Port Authority, and St. Pablo at Amber. -Kate Grewal

Celery juice, turmeric, kombucha, and activated charcoal might sound like items from your local health food store or cold-pressed juice stand. But lately, these ingredients are showing up on area menus as part of a national trend toward more health-conscious cocktails. “Baltimore is a little behind on this movement, but you’re starting to see it more and more,” says Gino Kozera, who just opened coffee and beer cafe Amber in Locust Point. “Trying to use as much natural, non-GMO, and fresh fruit as possible is a part of our ethos.”

Amber highlights drinks concocted with locally made Wild Kombucha flavors such as elderberry in the Gin Fizz or grapefruit-ginger that’s mixed with rye in the Port Authority. There’s also the St. Pablo, a rum drink containing honey and cayenne pepper—ingredients usually associated with a cleanse.

Of course, it should be noted that no alcoholic drink is 100 percent good for you. But national brands such as Ketel One’s new all-natural botanical products with cucumber and fresh-squeezed peach are trying to help consumers drink more responsibly by veering away from artificial flavors. Even a recent Crown Royal commercial encourages its viewers to take a “water break” while watching NFL games.

Between Two Ferns at Regal Beagle. -Kate Grewal

“Fully embracing wellness and finding ways to live a healthier lifestyle is something you’re seeing more of in the industry,” says Ginny Lawhorn, who runs Baltimore Cocktail Week and the bar at Landmark Theatre in Harbor East (which offers a drink made with activated charcoal). “Bartending is no longer a pay-my-rent-while-I-can job. People are now in it as a career and thinking about their own health and longevity.” Lawhorn’s most recent Cocktail Week included an all-day series of wellness workshops—including a yoga flow followed by conversations centered around nutrition—at R. House hosted by bar manager Amie Ward.

That industry passion is translating to consumers. It’s something we’ve seen in older institutions—like Woodberry Kitchen and Wit & Wisdom, which use fresh juices and even have mocktail menus—and new establishments alike. The recently opened Vida Taco Bar in Harbor Point has a carrot juice cocktail, and The Regal Beagle in Canton makes the Between Two Ferns with celery juice and black pepper and Daytime Drama with a turmeric cordial.

“Just as cuisine has gone farm-to-table, cocktail programs have gone garden-to-glass,” Lawhorn says. “Beets were very popular for a while, turmeric is now, charcoal is a mixed bag of opinions. The overall goal is using little to no sugar while still maximizing flavor.”

As with any trend, there is a limit (we’ve come across distilled non-alcoholic spirits, which gave us a moment of pause) and the pendulum is likely to swing back. But for now, we’re really enjoying feeling like a saint while we sin—and the easier hangovers are certainly a plus.





You May Also Like


Food & Drink

Puddin’ on the Ritz

Local pudding purveyors jazz up the classic comfort food.

In Good Taste

Sacré Sucré Owners Bake Macarons That Taste As Good As They Look

Co-owners Manuel Sanchez and Dane Thibodeaux discuss the sweet story behind their Fells Point shop.

In Good Taste

Open & Shut: Twisted Teahouse; Mera Kitchen Pop-Up; Pasta Mista

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.


Food & Drink

Tavern Talk

The White Oak Tavern delights in Ellicott City.

On The Town

Drink Trends to Look Out For in 2019

From cannabis-infused drinks to entirely new sub-categories, this should be a wild year for craft beverages.

Food & Drink

Review: Square Meal

Inside the Hotel Revival, Square Meal is a good deal.

Gin Fizz, Port Authority, and St. Pablo at Amber. -Kate Grewal

Connect With Us

Most Read


Baltimore Museum of Art Has Rare “Sold Out” Day, Thanks to John Waters: Hundreds line up to see the Waters retrospective before it closes.

Women Legislators Emerge in Record Numbers: Nonprofit Emerge Maryland identifies and trains women seeking political office in the state—and it’s working.

Tavern Talk: The White Oak Tavern delights in Ellicott City.

Why Baltimore Restaurant Week Feels More Important Than Ever: Despite recent closures, industry looks forward to starting 2019 on a high note.

Season of Suck: Fifty years ago, the Colts, O’s, and Bullets all fell to upstarts from New York when it mattered most.