8 Of The Healthiest Cocktails In Hong Kong
For much of its long history, alcohol has been seen as a force for the betterment of the human body. From Chinese snake wines drunk to increase male virility, and the Chartreuse herbal liqueurs of 17th-century Carthusian monks, to the gin and tonic, which was consumed in British India to ward off malaria, alcohol has variously nourished and replenished our mortal constitutions, while also extracting toxins and defending us from external pestilence.
Of course, modern science has shown the actual effects of alcohol to be otherwise, shifting its role in society to that of enabling merriment. Still, as in any field there exists a spectrum, and who isn't to say that, on a responsible night out, we can be informed to pick one probiotic-rich cocktail over, say, a Gibson? In other words, those looking to minimise their guilt while enjoying the fruits of the bar industry will find it in the following list of vitamin and fibre-rich cocktails, temperance be damned. À votre santé!
Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding your health.
1/8 The Daily Tot's PB&G
While British sailors drunk on 'kill-devil' isn't exactly the picture of health, the thinking behind the British Navy's tradition of handing out daily rum rations to Her Majesty's seamen was that the spirit, when mixed with lemon juice and water to create 'grog', was more sanitary than plain water, and also helped to ward off scurvy thanks to the vitamin C in the citrus.
The Daily Tot presents a rather more palatable modern take on grog in the PB&G, which combines Plantation's Stiggins Fancy Pineapple rum cooked sous-vide with basil, Petite Verveine, yuzu cordial, fresh guava juice and egg white. Verveine was originally created by a French herbalist in the 19th century using lemon verbena, a herb prized since Roman times for its medicinal qualities, helping to alleviate everything from indigestion to fevers, asthma and joint pain. The filler of guava juice, apart from its ability to transport the mind to more tropical climes, is also packed with nutrients such as Vitamin C, antioxidants and fibre. No doubt you'll be left in shipshape after sipping on this concoction.
The Daily Tot, Shop E, LG/F, Felicity Building, 58 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2366 6836
2/8 Pepper Smash at Coa
Agave-derived spirits such as mezcal and tequila are known to be some of the healthiest hard liquor around thanks to their low-calorie composition, as well as the presence of dietary fibre, probiotics and fructans, a type of carbohydrate known to boost your immune system. Leave it to Coa to build on these qualities with the Pepper Smash, which mixes jalapeño-infused blanco tequila and joven mezcal with yellow bell pepper, shiso liqueur, Cointreau, acid-adjusted pineapple, agave nectar and sweet basil.
Apart from lending the drink its name and colour, bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, potassium, folic acid and fiber; while the minerals in pineapple have been found to reduce joint inflammation, improve oral and eye health, and strengthen blood circulation.
Coa, Shop A, LG/F, Wah Shin House, 6-10 Shin Hing Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2813 5787
See also: Mixologist Jay Khan's Must Have Items For A Home Bar
3/8 The Dispensary's Brave Burlingham
Trust a bar named The Dispensary to have a gut-cleansing concoction on hand. The Brave Burlingham gains its pitch-black appearance thanks to a charcoal-infused rum that's shaken with Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, almond syrup, grapefruit and lime juice. Used to filter drinking water and to treat poisoning and drug overdoses in clinical settings, activated charcoal can also be consumed as a detoxifying supplement thanks to its ability to reduce excessive gas and prevent the absorption of diarrhea-inducing bacteria into the body, as shown by initial research. The addition of grapefruit and lime juices also adds a healthy dose of vitamin C to strengthen your immune system.
The Dispensary, Block 1, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2848 3000
4/8 Bejewelled Frost at The Envoy
With an ingredient list that reads like a smoothie you might pick up after an especially vigorous session of hot yoga, the Bejewelled Frost from The Envoy marries clove-infused whisky with beetroot and carrot juice, lemongrass syrup, ginger cordial and apple vinegar. Beetroot is an especially potent vegetable, said to contribute to improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increased exercise performance thanks to the presence of fibre, vitamins C and B9, manganese, potassium, and iron. Carrot is widely known to be beneficial to your eyesight, while its cocktail of vitamins (A, B6 and C) strengthens the immune system. For those who want to go teetotal, the cocktail is also offered as a spirit-free version.
The Envoy, 3/F, The Pottinger, 74 Queen's Road Central, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2169 3311
See also: 6 Easy Mocktails To Make At Home
5/8 Doubleshot's Pear Ginger Toddy
Prescribed by mothers since time immemorial for a host of ailments, from comforting sore throats to easing congestion, the hot toddy is the Swiss army knife of homemade curative cocktails—if not for the body, then certainly for the soul. Doubleshot takes it one step further with its Pear Ginger Toddy by adding distinctly Cantonese flavours to this classic.
Building on a base of Irish whiskey, the cocktail brings in Chinese pear for its abundance of copper (which helps in the formation of blood cells and nerve cells), dietary fibre (to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels), and potassium (for lowering blood pressure). Meanwhile, ginger has been shown through the ages to aid digestion, reduce nausea, and help fight colds and the flu. What's better, this drink can be made hot or cold according to your desires.
Doubleshot by Cupping Room, 1/F, 49 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong; +852 9225 6639
6/8 The Old Man's Dangerous Summer
Though the bullfighters of Hemingway's 1959 book The Dangerous Summer do not meet a peaceful end, perhaps drinkers of this libation at The Old Man will find some solace in the nourishing ingredients of kiwi bourbon, fermented koji rice, mango curd, vetiver and liquorice salt. Of particular note to the health-conscious is the use of koji, a yeast strain used in brewing sake and shochu, as well as in the production of miso and soy sauce. Rich in probiotics and isoflavones, koji has demonstrated the ability to aid digestion, boost your immune system, and prevent cancer. Meanwhile, vetiver, a relative of sorghum, is usually harvested for its roots which helps with nerve and circulation problems; its essential oil is also used to relieve nervousness, insomnia and joint pain.
The Old Man, LG/F, 37-39 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2703 1899
See also: Why Restaurants Are Choosing Sake Over Wine For Food Pairing
7/8 Beras Kencur at Potato Head
Inspired by jamu, an Indonesian herbal medicine that originates from the the 7th century AD, Potato Head's Beras Kencur cocktail seeks to invigorate the body with a heady mix of Absolut vodka, basmati rice, yuzu, agave, turmeric, pandan, tamarind and galangal. Each ingredient plays a vital role: turmeric prevents heart disease and Alzheimer's; tamarind improves the health of your heart, liver and eyes; and galangal fights inflammation and protects against infections. But perhaps the cocktail's greatest benefit is the ability to whisk you away to the beaches of Bali in an instant—who needs to worry about mortal ailments when you're on the Island of Gods?
Potato Head, 100 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong; +852 2858 6066
8/8 Quinary's Hung Zou
Red dates, or jujube, are a staple in traditional Chinese medicine thanks to their plethora of health-inducing benefits, from replenishing your blood and reversing the effects of ageing on the skin, to improving sleep quality with a mix of antioxidant phytochemicals. Quinary has capitalised on this superfood with the Hung Zou cocktail, made by blending Monkey Shoulder scotch with red dates, Jasmine tea mix, black plum syrup, sweet vermouth, Frangelico, lime juice and milk. Served in a Chinese tea cup in a nod to the Cantonese tradition of herbal teas, the cocktail is as easy to drink as it is beneficial to your complexion. As they say, "three dates a day keeps old age away!"
Quinary, 56-58 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2851 3223
See also: 6 Classic Chinese Herbal Tea Drinks Explained & Where To Get Them in Hong Kong