Today, the word ‘cocktail’ invokes images of a dimly-lit lounge, soft jazz music carrying you gently into the evening hours. Paradoxically, however, cocktails were originally consumed first thing in the morning as a reviving tonic containing medicinal bitters. Although contested, the word ‘cock-tail’ itself suggests an association with the rooster crowing to greet the day.
While cocktails are now safely relegated to the evening hours, the need for a tonic to revive the body and mind in the morning has persisted and taken on new and varied forms. The most common of these is, of course, coffee and its many applications. Yet, in addition to coffee and tea, the concept of a morning tonic is becoming broader. Approaching the morning tonic from a more health-conscious perspective, we now have elements of citrus, vinegar, spices and natural sugars playing the role that medicinal bitters once did. Here, we’ll explore some of the emerging trends in morning tonics, the health benefits of drinking them regularly, and some recipes to help get you inspired to start brewing your own concoctions.
Many of you have likely heard of the lemon water solution. Add the juice of half a lemon to a cup or two of lukewarm water and consume first thing in the morning. While perhaps cautioned by your dentist, this tonic is a highly effective detoxifying and alkalizing agent in the body. A simple online search for lemon water will return scores of pages touting its health benefits ranging from improved digestion to liver support to clear skin and energy. One of the greatest benefits of adding hot water with lemon juice to your morning routine is the enzymes in lemons that support liver function, the main cleansing and detoxifying organ in the body. Common additions include cayenne pepper to rev up metabolism as well as honey for sustained energy (versus the post-coffee crash). When you sleep, your body naturally becomes dehydrated and drinking water first thing in the morning is the single best thing you can do to wake yourself up, lemons or no lemons. Nutritionists recommend waiting 20 minutes after your lemon tonic before eating breakfast or having a cup of coffee to allow cleansing to occur. I would highly recommend incorporating this practice into your daily routine as much as possible while trying to avoid swishing the lemon water around in your mouth in order to also protect the enamel of your teeth.
Learn more about why Dr. Axe of draxe.com recommends adding lemon water to your daily routine:
If you’re worried about protecting your teeth, there are several other tonic concoctions that provide similar health benefits. Fermented foods are another fantastic way to wake up your body and promote metabolism and digestion throughout the day. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and vinegar also contain high enzymatic activity and act as a form of probiotics to rebuild colonies in the gut. Drinks such as Kombucha and Switchel incorporate the many benefits of fermentation and are an excellent morning ritual. Switchel is a centuries-old farmer’s drink that once provided a quick boost of energy in the fields and is now experiencing resurgence in popularity. Traditionally containing apple cider vinegar, fresh ginger, maple syrup/honey and water, the confluence of these ingredients provides a powerful impact to overall energy and vitality. Apple cider vinegar naturally balances pH levels in the body and contains high levels of potassium and electrolytes, while ginger boosts immunity and reduces inflammation. Going full-circle, Switchel can even be used as a healthy base for cocktails, combining especially well with whiskey or gin. The recipe for a classic batch of Switchel is below:
- 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (try to get organic if possible)
- 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 4 cups water or seltzer water
- Combine and shake. Stir well before serving.
You can also double and triple this recipe to make Switchel in large batches to consume throughout the week.
Moving from the wheat fields to the rice fields, Kombucha is another alternative to consider and plays a big role in Chinese and eastern medicine. Kombucha is usually made up of fermented black or green tea with cane sugar, fruit or honey fermented by a colony of bacteria and yeast (commonly referred to as the ‘SCOBY’). The health benefits of Kombucha again range from detoxification as a result of boosting gut bacteria to a strengthened immune system due to high antioxidant properties. You can find pre-made Kombucha at many health foods stores, or if you are feeling adventurous, you can make your own batch at home! I recommend GT Kombucha which has a wide variety of flavors and uses high-quality and long-lasting ingredients. You can visit their website for more details on products and locations: http://synergydrinks.com/index.php/products#enlightened-kombucha.
So the next time you’re sipping on a cocktail (bonus: also fermented!), think about the new kinds of ‘cock-tails’ that can help nurse that hangover and wake you up again fresh and revitalized the next morning!