When people find out that I’m “into” healthy living, they sometimes clam up because they think I’m judging them. They order a salad instead of the burger they really want, or tell me about the marathon they’re thinking of training for or, god forbid, skip ordering a cocktail because they think I’ll criticize them.
I take it as a compliment—folks are trying to connect with me and that’s a very kind-hearted thing to do— but my closest friends and family know that (1) I so don’t have the judgment personality (at least not anymore– 25-year-old me had some work to do), so that’s just not something you ever really have to worry about with me, (2) I’m trying really hard to harness the power of my brain’s perpetual conga line to focus on kindness, compassion, and gratitude through a regular mindfulness practice, and (3) GIRL, I KNOW BETTER THAN ANYBODY THAT SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED A COCKTAIL.
I believe that listening to your body and giving it what it needs is one of the healthiest, most nourishing things you can do. Sometimes that means eating kale salads for a week straight, and sometimes that means sipping on a cocktail after a hard day at work. Our goal here at Wholefully isn’t really to tell you specifically what to eat or drink and what not to eat or drink—our goal is to get you listening to your body and responding with what it needs. For some of you with medical or dependency issues, cocktails might be off the table, but for others, cocktails might be a completely healthy part of your diet.
When you are crafting a cocktail to fit into your healthy lifestyle, I do have a few recommendations to keep it a little closer to the Wholefully side of the food spectrum:
- Skip the sugar-filled mixers. I promise you can make a mighty good cocktail without the use of soft drinks or cocktail mixes! Bonus: sugar and alcohol together is a recipe for a highly unpleasant morning after. Some people theorize that the less added sugar you have in your cocktail, the less chance you have of a wicked hangover. Some of my favorite cocktails are made with flavored sparkling water—no added sugar at all!
- Try adding some nutrition. Booze has gotten the reputation of being “empty calories” because it’s mostly void of nutrients, but you can help balance that out a bit by using mixers that do add some nourishment. I like using 100% fruit juices, fresh fruit, and, like I do here, kombucha! Kombucha cocktails are a great way to get a boost of gut-friendly probiotics while you sip away on your cocktail (plus, kombucha is already slightly alcoholic).
- Everything in moderation. I’m not gonna lie, I had a wild bender or two (or three) in college, but long gone are the days where I drink to get drunk. A healthy perspective with cocktails is enjoying them mindfully and with moderation. Curious how you drink a cocktail mindfully? Hold the glass in your hand and observe the color and the temperature. Enjoy the way the glass feels in your hand and the weight of it. Take a deep inhale and savor the scents. Then, take a small sip, and enjoy the way the flavors bloom across your tongue, and enjoy the way the cocktail warms your throat. Sipping on a carefully crafted cocktail should be a beautiful, romantic experience that deserves your full attention. Chugging cocktails while you’re distracted by something else is not the stuff of healthy living. Save your unconscious beverage slamming for plain water.
I’ve been playing a lot with kombucha cocktails in my kitchen lately, and I thought I’d show you three options I came up with! I grabbed all the ingredients (including the alcohol and the kombucha) at my local Meijer store. They have an impressive selection of beer, wine, and liquor, as well as one of the best kombucha selections of any of our local supermarkets. I love that I don’t have to stop at a specialty liquor store to pick up goodies—I just grab them while I’m doing my regular grocery shopping at Meijer! Alright, let’s have some kombucha cocktails, shall we?
Mulled Wine Kombucha Spritzer
Mulled wine is one of my favorite fall and winter treats, but I have to be honest, I rarely take the time to actually make it myself! That’s why I was so happy to find that a winery out of Traverse City, Michigan sells a red wine that’s already infused with all the wonderful spices that you usually find in mulled wine—and I can pick it up at my local Meijer store.
Witches Brew from Leelanau Cellars is a seasonal wine that you can only grab this time of year. It’s meant to be served warm or hot (like most mulled wine), but the second I tasted it, I knew I wanted to turn it into a festive chilled spritzer using apple-flavored kombucha. Here in the Southern Midwest, fall can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride—just last week we had a 95° day followed by a 55° day—so getting the flavors of fall in a crisp, refreshing cocktail is the perfect answer to this time of year (that and pumpkin ice cream).
This cocktail uses apple-flavored kombucha that I picked up at Meijer, but any kind of kombucha would work if you have trouble tracking down the apple-flavored. I think this would be really great with ginger kombucha, too. Whatever you do, don’t skip the dash of orange bitters at the end. It can be easy to assume that just a little bit of an ingredient can’t make much of a difference, but I promise, it does. And trust me, once you buy your first bottle of orange bitters and start using it, you’ll be hooked!
You can find the other two cocktails here:
If I had to pick one of these as my favorite, I’d say I loved the Mulled Wine Spritzer the most, but they are all stupendously delicious! Happy fall! I hope you enjoy.