Traditionally, bar trends have rarely led with wellness in mind. Your fitness instructor may like her tequila or vodka straight up, but that’s a bit too hardcore for most drinkers—and thus, sugary syrups and mixers have been helping spirits go down easier since before happy hour became a concept. (So much for drinking to your health, right?)
But take a close look at the bottles behind the bar and you’ll notice a new trend has emerged: Many liquor companies are using real plants to enhance their spirits, eliminating the need for chemical-laden add-ins. Instead, you can simply sip the liquor as-is. (Whole Foods totally called it, BTW.) Earlier this year, Ketel One released a whole botanical vodka line, using ingredients like grapefruit, orange blossom, cucumber, and mint. Belvedere Vodka also uses real plants, incorporating ingredients like ginger and peach nectar into their flavored infusions. And each bottle of The Botanist Gin is infused with a whopping 22 different hand-harvested botanicals, including chamomile, spearmint, and lemon balm.
“As plant-based eating has become a bigger focus for more people, the trend has extended beyond food and started making its way into the glass,”says herbalist and Supernatural cafe founder Rachelle Robinett. “More people are starting to experiment with how to use plants in drinks as well as food.”
Another reason for the trend: The wellness revolution is here. Before, liquor was marketed as part of a “cool” lifestyle or as a way to relax. But, says Robinett, botanicals allow brands to shift the focus to healthy ingredients, many of which fall under the coveted “natural” category. (Although, PSA: We all know that too much alcohol consumption is never a good idea, so sip in moderation, k?)