In signs that enthusiasm for juicing shows no signs of flagging, it now extends to those who like to indulge in the occasional cocktail. As the New York Times reported last month, hip bars are embracing the world of fresh fruit and vegetable juices — taking the same concoctions people use to re-energize after a workout or up their intake of leafy greens — and adding a shot of vodka, gin or tequila. Besides being pro-produce, health-minded booze buffs, it seems, are also drawn to the idea of mixers that preclude the usual sugary sodas and syrups.
Nutrition experts, not surprisingly, are quick to point out that “juicetails” and “kaletinis” aren’t exactly health food. “It sounds like a good idea to meet your fruit and vegetable quota by throwing some into a cocktail,” says Martica Heaner, PhD, adjunct associate professor of nutrition at Hunter College, CUNY School of Public Health, in New York City. “But the problem is that alcohol actually impairs the absorption of some nutrients.” Not to mention that even regular juices, minus the alcohol, have dietary drawbacks.
But even if the juiced-up juices aren’t a free pass to imbibe, they’re certainly not bad for you (insert the “in moderation” speech here). The cocktails have a fresh deliciousness about them, and the juices are, at the very least, a nutritional step up from Day-Glo margarita mixes and their kin. And if you manage to swallow a few extra nutrients while getting a buzz, well, consider it a bonus.
5 Fresh Juices, 5 Spiked Spin-Offs
The Original: Super Green Juice
Serious incentive to clear out the crisper, this combo of lettuce, greens, apple and cucumber could also be dubbed “Green Out the Fridge” juice.
The Spiked Spin-Off: Green Margarita (top of page)
If you’re in less of a detox mood than a retox one, add tequila and a splash of Cointreau for a mean green rendition of the margarita.
The Original: Carrot-Orange Juice
With its sunny appearance and equally bright flavor, this juice manages to win over even juice cynics. (Chia seeds optional.)
The Spiked Spin-Off: Orange You Glad
In the boozy remake, orange liqueur and orange bitters ramp up the citrus flavors. (Maraschino cherry optional.)
The Original: Strawberry-Apple Juice
This pink juice is as simple as it is pretty, with just two ingredients: strawberries and apples.
The Spiked Spin-Off: Gin and Juice
Tricked out with gin, club soda and sprigs of basil, the drink takes a sophisticated turn and becomes (wait for it) Gin and Juice.
The Original: Kiwi-Watermelon Lime Juice
Thanks to kiwi and limes, this juice claims impressive stores of vitamin C. Watermelon adds some sweet balance and provides a nice hue.
The Spiked Spin-Off: Pink Derby
Come cocktail hour, the fresh fruit juice can be transformed into a bourbon-spiked beauty.
The Original: Beet-Carrot-Apple Juice
Beets are regulars at juice bars everywhere. Combining them with other produce, like sweet carrot and tart green apple, helps balance the overall flavor.
The Spiked Spin-Off: Beet Negroni
The traditional Negroni is a mix of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. Here, the earthy beet blend takes the place of the latter.
Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.