How to Make a DIY Botanical Spirit (featured in Well+Good)

Photo: Getty Images/Mint Images

Photo: Getty Images/Mint Images

If you’re interested in experimenting with the botanical trend on your own, Robinett says herbal tinctures are a great place to start. You can mix them with your alcohol of choice or just a bit of low-sugar sparkling water. “Lemon balm is one that can give you a happy feeling,” she says. “It’s like your rosé!” On a date? Add a few drops of damiana, which she says is considered a euphoria-inducing plant, relaxant, and an aphrodisiac.

If you’re looking to relax, one of her all-time faves is skullcap, which she says is a nervine, meaning it works with the nervous system. “Rose is a relaxant too, but that more relaxes the muscles, not the mind,” she explains. You also shouldn’t underestimate the relaxing effects of lavender and chamomile. “They tend to get dismissed as basic because they’re many people’s first teas or essential oils, but they are both really powerful plants,” Robinett says. As you can see, the possibilities are seemingly endless.

Besides making cocktail time feel slightly healthier, the popularity of botanicals is making the flavors in your glass a lot more exciting. As Brandon says, “There are 50,000 edible plants in the world, which is a hell of a lot of choice.” Better get sipping.


This excerpt from a piece that is available in full from Well+Good, here.

Featured in Well+Good: Botanical Booze Is The New Star Of Happy Hour

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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?)

Keep reading for more on how the botanical spirit boom is shaking up cocktail orders from coast to coast…

This Anxiety-Relieving Drink Wants to Be Your New Glass of Wine - Rachelle for Bon Appetit's HEALTHYISH

This Anxiety-Relieving Drink Wants to Be Your New Glass of Wine - Rachelle for Bon Appetit's HEALTHYISH

I was an adventurous kid, with parents involved in both eastern and western medicine, so I grew up experimenting with all kinds of uncommon ways of self-mending. Homeopathic pellets for headaches, essential oil on my feet for sleep, moxibustion for sore muscles... Hanging out in health food stores for fun was basically my M.O.

One herbal remedy I encountered early on was kava kava—a bitter root reported to calm anxiety. The psychoactive plant is native to the western Pacific, where communities in Polynesia have been drinking it in tea form for thousands of years. Kava bars have long been popular in Hawaii, but only recently have they started popping up on the mainland. Last spring, N.Y.C. got its first few, one of which is Brooklyn Kava in Bushwick, close enough to make me a regular.