Mindfulness, a millennial buzzword.
To be mindful opens an infinite amount of ideas and practices as well as a series of branches into the category of cocktails. So when you think of a cocktail, what’s the first thought in your mind?
Is it a flavour?
Or maybe just a particularly bad hangover.
And what about mindfulness in a cocktail?
Do you think of specific ingredients or a spirit, perhaps?
Or do you envision dungarees, grated ginger and essential oils?
There is no doubt that cocktails impose flavours, memories and stories and as mixologists, we use the senses to create that experience. Our gut and health is a factor that should be a part of the experience, for both cocktail creator and guests. We use ingredients every day like herbs and spices but we don’t focus on the details of physical and mental health benefits they can provide.
So here is some regurgitated ever-so-slightly dull information about the microorganisms that control EVERYTHING. Gut microbiota (or simply gut flora) are the microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts, with a key role in many aspects of human health including your immune system and your nutrition. They do plenty more but the list is long and Google will be your friend with that. These microorganisms have a direct effect on your mental well-being, through your gut-brain-axis (a), here’s our focus.
I believe we can use this to our advantage, this type of research allows us as mixologists to give further levels of meaning and understanding of the drinks that we create. In this piece, I’ll focus on the ingredients that we already know about and use regularly. Rosemary, a herb with flowers, twigs and leaves that are well known to have a magnitude of uses such as for sore throats and having a calming effect on digestion. It is also a well-known antimicrobial and can even increase circulation. Rosemary is said to stimulate the stomach, so besides flavour, fatty lamb and other meats might also be paired with this herb to support the liver and digest fats better. What about multiple ingredients, have you thought about synergy? This is the understanding that two or more substances cooperate or interact to produce a combined effect greater than them separately. Some ingredients cannot express their fullest health potential if not used synergistically with other active ingredients or if the process requires activation.
A great example of ensuring that you’re using ingredients to their full potential is by creating teas. Tea creates a condensed solution of phytonutrients that are readily absorbed by the body, most ingredients can be made into tea and herbal teas containing good bioactive compounds. Knowing the synergistic interaction of tea with other herbs will benefit for therapeutic enhancement in a cocktail.
A final prime example that has been growing in popularity is turmeric and black pepper, two ingredients that tremendously improves absorption caused by the compounds curcumin and piperine. As piperine increases the bioavailability of curcuminoids (b), this means the absorption is improved, magnifying their effects and increasing it’s bioavailability significantly.
Now I don’t know about you but when it comes to finding out that I can increase the health benefits of an ingredient by almost 2000% (c) just through understanding synergy and bioavailability, I’d like to take advantage of that. Okay, so I’m not saying that if you add a bit of beetroot and turmeric into your Cosmopolitan it’s going to make you the epitome of health, a balanced diet and lifestyle is important too. ABV in a cocktail is also a factor to take into account, as well as sugar. However, creatives in the food, drink and health industry have found and are still finding many ways for sugar replacements. If we open the conversation with our guests and make it a normalised practice to know the benefits of the natural products, fresh herbs and spices that we use every day. I see no negative to that. Let’s take care of guests on every level we can.