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Entertaining
3 Healthy(ish) Turmeric Cocktails to Kick Off That “Diet”

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Turmeric has the Midas touch. Not only does the pungent root impart its signature golden hue to whatever it touches, but it also makes everything taste better. It’s the ingredient responsible for curry’s rich flavor and color, and the key to making the popular Golden Milk cure-all. And just as it adds vibrancy to food, turmeric is a fantastic way to boost a cocktail’s flavor power.

Kept whole or ground into a fine powder, turmeric mixes beautifully with everything from gin to rum—and bartenders across the country have been taking advantage of that versatility, experimenting with the spice in syrups and infusions.

And bonus: Turmeric’s benefits aren’t just superficial. “Turmeric is not only delicious, but it has also been proven to have an abundance of amazing health benefits,” says Matt Ragan, former beverage director at Victor Tangos in Dallas, Texas. He’s referring to curcumin, the natural chemical compound in turmeric that gives it its color and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. While it’s unclear how many of these benefits remain once the spice is mixed with alcohol, turmeric tastes so darn good in cocktails that it hardly matters. Here, three solid gold recipes that give turmeric the boozy spotlight it deserves.

Matthew Kelly/Supercall
Turmeric’s intense color and flavor can be overwhelming, so many bartenders choose to pit it against equally robust ingredients in order to achieve a delicious balance. This cocktail, dreamt up by Ray Sakover of New York’s Slowly Shirley, pairs turmeric juice with bold flavors inspired by North African cuisine. “I naturally gravitated towards sweet date and sour lemon, adding turmeric and harissa to give the cocktail depth,” says Sakover. The complex drink is underlined by a base of grassy golden rum and herbaceous gin, and topped off with an appropriately spiced, quirky garnish: a cinnamon and mint palm tree.

The Essentials

Gin
gold rum
turmeric juice
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For his healthy(ish) sour, Ragan decided to infuse his base spirit of vodka with fresh turmeric root and then build on the health benefits of curcumin with equally healthful ingredients. “We add a hit of Vitamin A with carrot juice and Vitamin C with lemon juice,” Ragan says. He also adds honey to sweeten the whole deal, and tops it off with Angostura bitters, which, he says, “helps cut through the strong veggie flavor of the carrot juice.” The end result is a relatively simple but ultra-delicious recipe, one Ragan calls a “wildly refreshing and delicious cocktail that does the body good.”

The Essentials

vodka
carrot juice
turmeric
Matthew Kelly/Supercall

Created by cocktail consultant Natalie Jacob for The Archer in Jersey City, New Jersey, The Yellow Line demonstrates turmeric’s ability to bridge the gap between sweet, sour and spicy flavors. It starts off with a healthy dose of Avuá Oak, a barrel-aged cachaça, then builds on the spirit’s rich, vegetal flavor with tart lemon juice, spicy ginger and a beautifully complex honey-turmeric syrup. “Avuá Oak has warm, savory notes of vanilla, butterscotch and lemongrass that I thought paired well with the spiciness of this drink,” Jacob says. “Drinking alcohol may not be the healthiest for us when consumed in excess, but pairing it with healthy things—like turmeric, honey, cayenne and lemon—definitely takes the guilt out.” Jacob also notes that those ingredients are also commonly used in detox drinks. “Can we detox and get a buzz at the same time?” she asks. Probably not, but at the very least this cocktail is a feat of balance and flavor worthy of King Midas himself.

The Essentials

Cachaça
honey turmeric syrup
Ginger Syrup

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