It’s January and everyone is talking about “detoxing”. Scientists may be sceptical about some usages of the term which, in the strictest sense, means that products should actively remove toxic substances from the body. But, if we stick to its feel-good meaning of “stuff that is good for you”, there are plenty of ideas for keeping your customers coming to your bar despite the New Year health drive.
This week, sales teams from drinks company Cellar Trends have started calling on bars in England, Wales and Scotland with ideas for a healthy detox menu of alcohol-free cocktails using Finest Call mixes. Supported by A4 presenters promoting the drinks to a bar’s customers, there are 10 recipes using Finest Call purées such as passion fruit, peach, raspberry, strawberry, mango and banana. Cocktails include a Barbados Blues Buster, a Virgin Sunset, an English Orchard (pictured above), a Pink ‘n’ Fizzy and a Triple Berry treat. Peter Thornton, brand manager for Finest Call, describes non-alcoholic cocktails as “a fun way of drinking sensibly. They give customers the chance to detox after the festive period. They are also a great profit driver.”
Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands has also picked up on the New Year health drive, developing a range of “skinny cocktails” for bars, supported by customised menus and its Pourfection website. Its recipe cards for bartenders include the calorific content of each ingredient, such as its Gimlet made with 50ml of Bombay Sapphire (120 calories) and 25ml of lime cordial (5 calories).
At restaurant Mango Tree in Belgravia, London, a “healthy detoxing menu” has been introduced, complete with a free pre-dinner massage from Chi Yu wellness centre in Marylebone. Alongside wholesome but delicious dishes, Mango Tree offers “detoxing” cocktails such as a Thai Martini, made with vodka, lemongrass, lychee fruit, lychee liqueur, fresh lime juice, lychee juice and red chilli. While vodka may not be traditionally a detox ingredient, lemongrass is said to be good for detoxifying the liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder and the digestive tract while lychees are rich in vitamin C and beta carotene and have a number of health benefits. Alcohol-free options at Mango Tree include the Mango Tree Paradise containing fresh mango, passion fruit and berry juice.
In a variation on the detox message, soft drink Alibi is being promoted by owner Oliver Bolton as a “pretox” drink for the new year. It is a blend of 17 vitamins, herbal extracts and amino acids which, among other benefits, are said to “prepare you for moments of stress and excess”, processing toxins that typically come from rich food, caffeine and alcohol. There are two variants: Citrus, with the flavour of Californian grapefruits and Tuscan lines, and Pomegranate which has additional antioxidant benefits. Alibi has been gaining listings in supermarkets but is also being targeted at the bar trade.
Bar and dim sum restaurant The Drunken Monkey in Shoreditch, east London, doesn’t make any detoxifying claims about its new Tea Party Menu, introduced this month, but it draws on the health-giving properties of tea such as its tannins, amino acids, fluoride, calcium, antioxidants and vitamins. The new menu features specialist teas, spiced cupcakes made by specialist baker A Little Peace, and infused cocktails created by bartender Cristian Cuevas.
For £11, two people can enjoy a Drunken Monkey Tea, made up of a choice from 12 teas and a selection of the cupcakes – one is made with sultanas, ground cinnamon and star anise, topped with fresh vanilla pod butter cream. The teas include a classic Chinese green tea with freshly picked jasmine petals, Morning Dew tea made with large-leaf sencha, sunflower, cornflower and rose petal, and Pai Mu Tan, a white-leaf tea produced from white peony tips, which contain a high level of antioxidants.
But if it’s alcoholic drinks you want, Cristian has come up with a list of tea-based cocktails as an added extra to bring a kick to the tea party. One refreshing example is the Citrus Iced Tea, which is a blend of Bulldog gin, orange liqueur, jasmine, lemongrass, orange and lemon, served over ice. The Quince Asian Tea uses a Heaven and Earth tea that combines strawberries, kiwi and tangy Japanese sencha, infused together with Bramley and Gage Quince Liqueur, cinnamon liqueur and orange peel, served in an oriental tea pot.
Simon Chan, events and marketing director for The Drunken Monkey, explains: “Tea is the most popular beverage in the world after water, and has been drunk for thousands of years. It is an important part of the Chinese culture and we thought we’d bring some of the most delicious teas to the Monkey along with a range of matching cupcakes and cocktails for an ‘East meets West’ take on the traditional British afternoon tea.”