7 Superfood Cocktails: Drinks With a Twist

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/professorbop/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/professorbop/

There is an Irish drinking toast, Sláinte, which translates literally as “health,” and can be slightly modified to mean “good health.” Promoting good health while drinking alcohol may seem counterproductive, but there are ways to sneak some health benefits into cocktails.

Take superfoods for example. In general, superfoods are versatile, containing vitamins, minerals, proteins, or fiber. There are superfoods for every season, and the term has become a huge marketing hit for people wanting to create a healthier lifestyle. They’ve even infiltrated the previously mentioned cocktail realm. In New York, bars offer superfood alcoholic drinks and Westin Hotels & Resorts developed superfood mojitos in 2010.

The accessibility of superfoods makes superfood cocktails readily available for even the novice bartender. Since there is always an in-season option, finding the ingredients for these cocktails should be a breeze. The seven recipes here are just the beginning, so find out which superfoods can easily be mixed with alcohol to make an adult-friendly beverage. After finding out how the particular superfood, or foods, are a healthy choice, you’ll be saying Sláinte with the following drinks.

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robbplusjessie/

1. Watermelon

Lona Sandon is a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern. Sandon told Medical News Today that watermelons are more than a way to hydrate. Vitamin A in watermelons promotes good eye sight and vitamin C protects the immune system. Watermelons are a source of phytochemicals, particularly lycopene, which has been shown in studies to protect against cancer.

One way to enjoy a watermelon-superfood-inspired cocktail is a Watermelon Basil Mojito, like this recipe from Redbook:

2 oz light or silver rum
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
3 basil leaves, one for garnish
0.25 cup fresh chopped watermelon
Splash of club soda
Garnish: watermelon slice + basil leaf garnish

Directions: In a glass, muddle fresh watermelon and basil with lime juice and simple syrup. Add rum. Top with crushed ice and a splash of club soda. Garnish and serve.

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/katieharbath/

2. Blackberries

In 2009, a study was published in Nutritional Neuroscience that said blackberries could positively impact cognitive and motor skills, which decline as we age. Blackberries have antiviral and antibacterial compounds, like gallic acid, rutin, and ellagic acid. Eating them may fight off oral bacteria, and they have anti-inflammatory properties as well. Blackberry juice, according to research in Life Sciences, might have heart healthy benefits. Anthocyanins in blackberry juice can increase antioxidant activity, and protect against cardiovascular diseases.

To warm up in the winter, try this Slow-Cooker Blackberry Cordial by Rachel Ray:

6 cups blackberries
1 cup sugar
6 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 lemon, zested in strips
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/4 cups brandy (optional)

Directions: In large bowl, crush berries and sugar with potato masher. Add to slow cooker and stir in 1 qt. water, peppercorns, bay leaves, and lemon zest. Cover and cook over low heat for 2 1/2 hours. Stir, increase heat to high and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Strain through fine-mesh sieve without pressing on berries. Stir maple syrup into blackberry juice and let cool. Stir in brandy, if using. Refrigerate up to 1 month. Makes 6 cups.

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/district_diva/

3. Cranberries

Elevate cranberries beyond just sauce during the holiday season by serving them up in a cocktail. A WebMD feature on cranberries says the tart berry comes packed with vitamin C and antioxidants that fight diseases. A serving of cranberries has more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable, expect blueberries. It is not exactly a “superfood,” but cranberry juice has its own merits, fighting bacteria in the digestive system like E. coli, and helping to prevent urinary tract infections.

Cranberries, and cranberry juice come together in this Cranberry Daiquiri by Bon Appétit:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup light rum
6 tablespoons: dark rum; light rum; cranberry juice; lemon juice

Directions: Dissolve 1/2 sugar in 1/2 cup water in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cinnamon stick and grated orange peel; bring to boil. Mix in cranberries and cook until cranberries begin to pop. Cool; discard cinnamon. Pour mixture into jar; add 1/2 cup light rum. Chill. Strain syrup into pitcher; reserve cranberries. Add 6 tablespoons each dark rum, light rum, cranberry juice, and lemon juice to pitcher. Chill. Serve in Martini glasses that have been filled with crushed ice. Garnish with reserved cranberries.

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/felix_castor/

4. Pomegranate Juice

The jury is still out on whether or not pomegranate juice lowers cholesterol, but it may slow the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries, Dr. Thomas Behrenbeck explains. The juice has other benefits worth of its superfood fruit. It has antioxidants at higher levels than other juices, and polyphenols. It is even possible the juice helps boost blood flow to the heart for people who have ischemic coronary heart disease, or CHD.

Martha Stewart provides this easy recipe for a Pomegranate-Champagne Punch:

1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
1 cup pear nectar
1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
1 bottle (750 ml) Champagne (may be substituted for sparkling white wine, or Prosecco)

Directions: In a large pitcher, combine pomegranate juice, pear nectar, and orange-flavored liqueur. Slowly add Champagne. Serve over ice.

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyhartshorn/

5. Blueberries

Small but mighty, blueberries have all kinds of health enhancing abilities. The Harvard Heart Letter says they can help protect against heart disease. Registered dietitian Joy Bauer says that blueberries protect the neurons – cells that carry memories — in our brains against oxidation and inflammation. They are an incredible source of flavonoids, and studies show they improve memory function. Skin health isn’t disregarded by blueberries either, which can help hydrate the body.

Try out this Blueberry Punch from Self.

1/2 cup blueberries, plus 12 blueberries for garnish
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups sparkling water
6 oz elderflower-flavored liqueur
4 lavender sprigs for garnish

Directions: In a small saucepan, bring to a boil the blueberries, sugar, and water. Cook 1 minute, breaking up berries with a spoon. Strain syrup, reserving liquid (you should have about 1/2 cup); let cool 15 minutes. Fill a large pitcher with ice. Add blueberry syrup, sparkling water and elderflower-flavored liqueur (such as St-Germain); stir well. Pour into 4 glasses; garnish each with 3 blueberries and a lavender sprig. Serve immediately.

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lollyknit/

6. Honey

Honey’s supposed health prowess dates back to the Romans and Greeks, according to Medical News Today. They caution that not enough research has been done to prove all the claims of honey, but what has been done indicates good things for this sweet substance. A study in Microbiology says that honey may be able to treat chronic wound infections, and even prevent them from occurring. Another study points to the possibility honey can kill bacteria, and a different one believes honey could reverse bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

To take in some of the many benefits of honey, try a classic, adaptable, Hot Toddy:

1 oz brandy, whiskey, or rum
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 lemon
1 cup hot water
1 tea bag

Directions: Coat the bottom of a mug or an Irish coffee glass with honey. Add the liquor and the juice of the lemon quarter. On the side, heat water in a tea kettle and add the tea bag to make hot tea. Pour the steaming tea into the glass and stir.

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyhartshorn/

7. Apricots and Figs

Apricots are high in all kinds of important nutrients. They provide beta-carotene, can protect eye and heart health, and may lower cholesterol, preventing heart disease. Studies have shown that vitamin A, found in apricots prevents cataracts. Apricots are another source of lycopene and fiber. Figs can bring fiber to a diet as well and are a source of phytonutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. The fig’s phytonutrients are a way to help prevent degenerative diseases, cancer, diabetes, and infections. Figs help manage blood glucose levels and off calcium.

Figs and apricots come together along with cranberries, and honey in this super-superfood Winter-Fruit Sangria published by Better Homes and Gardens:

6 dried Calimyrna (light) figs, sliced
6 dried apricots, cut into slivers
1/2 cup  dried cranberries
1/2 cup  raisins
1/4 cup  brandy
2 tablespoons  honey
1750  milliliter  bottle Rioja or Merlot
110  ounce  bottle club soda

Directions: In a saucepan stir together the dried fruits, brandy, and honey. Cook over medium-low heat until simmering. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Add wine; stir. Refrigerate up to 24 hours. To serve, strain sangria into a pitcher. Add ice cubes and club soda; stir gently. Makes 8 servings.

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