Healthy Cocktails

Serving up antioxidants, vitamins and minerals


We’ve all heard about the health benefits of wine. In fact, many of us may sneak in another glass of red because it’s good for us -- we’re protecting against heart disease and getting a good dose of antioxidants, OK?

Cocktails, on the other hand, have been labeled the bad guys at the bar. Laden with calories, these creamy, sugary confections go smoothly down the hatch and straight to the gut and hips. Yes, it’s true that they have higher alcohol content and calorie counts than wine and beer, but let’s not forget that many cocktails contain much of the good stuff too.
Freshly squeezed fruit juices, vegetables, herbs, spices and egg whites can all be found in a glass near you. You only need to take a glance at the history books to see how key ingredients for many drinks -- such as gin and Angostura bitters -- were used for medicinal purposes. And just last week, we gave you a few reasons Why Spirits Can Be Good for You.  

While we’re certainly not saying you should throw away any meds and seek a cure-all in a cocktail, or stretch cocktail hour into the wee small hours (at The Spirit we are all about drinking responsibly -- quality over quantity every time), it is time to fight against the bad-guy reputation of cocktails. So, let’s raise a long-deserved toast to a few ways cocktails can be good for you.

1. It’s fruit served straight up

An obvious one to start with, but fruit is a big factor in the health and taste stakes. The juices from strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, oranges, limes, lychees, kiwifruit, peaches, pineapples and more are rich with vitamins and minerals, and that can go some way to helping you reach your RDI of nine half-cup servings of fruit and veggies.

You might think that adding alcohol to fruit would cancel out the healthful effects. In fact, a 2008 study by researchers from the Kasetsart University in Thailand and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Service showed that adding ethanol, the type of alcohol in spirits including rum, vodka and tequila, boosts the antioxidants in colored fruit (is there any fruit that isn’t colored?). And cocktail lovers have this one over wine drinkers: why enjoy just one type of fruit in your glass?

2. BYO health benefits

The beauty of cocktails, like life, is that you get out what you put in. So, mix in your own tasty health benefits, then blend, shake or stir, and serve. For example, splash in some pure coconut water for an instant dose of electrolytes, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. The water is an isotonic solution that replaces the fluids and minerals that the body loses during physical activities, so it’s no wonder the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations took out a patent to bottle it as a sports drink. (Apparently, during the Pacific War of 1941-45, coconut water was drained directly from the nut to give emergency plasma transfusions to wounded soldiers!)

Or brew up some green tea and pour in antioxidants that fight heart disease and cancer. Green tea is said to help lower cholesterol, prevent diabetes and stroke, and stave off dementia. You can also infuse tea leaves in a spirit -- gin or vodka work best -- for an hour to days for a full-flavor effect.

3. Cocktails can help you live longer 

Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, and Stanford University just released study results that showed having two or three glasses of wine, beer or cocktails per day helped older adults live longer than teetotalers.

This is in line with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s extensive research, which reports that moderate drinking is beneficial to heart health, resulting in a decrease in heart disease risk of 40-60%. Moderate drinkers are also less likely to suffer heart attacks strokes, hypertension, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and colds. We'll toast to that!

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: LuisRo69
    491913 19

    The flavor of coconut water, from ripe coconuts, is delicious but mild. I would eliminate the bitters and the lime for a wonderful tasting treat. The water from green coconuts is completely tasteless, you'd get more flavor from bottled water.

    Also, folkloric medicine in my country "prescribes" drinking a lot of coconut water for those going through the exquisite expulsion of kidney stones.

    Whiskey and coconut water is the most popular (if not the only) coconut drink on my island. (It's actually scotch but they call it whiskey here.)

    Oct 22, 2010 at 2:49 PM

  • Snooth User: zareena81
    302188 3

    Not sure where you had a green coconut from my friend, but you are clearly mistaken. I grew up in the Caribbean and coconut water was a staple in my diet and green coconuts are quite flavorful. I believe you may have had a bad one, just like someone may have had a bad apple.

    Oct 24, 2010 at 12:16 PM

  • Snooth User: ltshaw711
    514450 22

    Picked up a can of coconut water at the local supermarket (alas, I don't live in the islands), thinking there must be a good cocktail use. Now I know there is, thanks! If you know of others, please post!

    Oct 25, 2010 at 10:52 AM

  • Snooth User: LuisRo69
    491913 19

    Dear Zareena: Well... I've lived in the Caribbean all of my 53 years and I stand by my comment. The water from ripe "cocos" (dark yellow on the outside) is sweet and flavorful but not the green ones. Maybe your cocos remain green on the outside even when ripe(?) There is more than one kind of coconut.

    Dear Itshaw: You're a brave one. I haven't had the guts to try that yet. One mixer I find delicious, especially with light rum, is Coco Rico (coconut soda). I didn't mention it before thinking you wouldn,t find it in the states but if you found canned coco-water, anything is possible. Enjoy.

    Oct 25, 2010 at 10:06 PM

  • Hi you guys! I am looking for suggestions !I have a really good blubbery and black tea infused vodka and am looking for a unique cocktail blend with it.

    Oct 26, 2010 at 9:32 PM

  • Snooth User: LuisRo69
    491913 19

    Dear Alenka: Problem is that your vodka sounds good enough to leave in the freezer overnight and drink straight or in a Martitni type cocktail. However, I would experiment with equal parts, or less, of any of the following: seltzer, coconut soda (it's mild), ginger ale or cranberry. Any other suggestions out there?

    Oct 26, 2010 at 10:53 PM


    Oct 27, 2010 at 7:26 AM

  • Fantastic cocktail idea - we substituted coconut juice for coconut water (I think the only difference is that the juice has sugar, but don't quote me...) and it was AWESOME. Breezy and refreshing -- reminds me of the sun, which is nice, considering that I'm in Alaska and won't see it for another two months or so!

    Nov 07, 2010 at 1:49 AM

  • This sounds amazing! My friend made me a mean coconut martini the other day and I think the recipe was something like this:
    2 oz Voli Lyte Vodka
    1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
    1 oz Coconut water
    1 oz Coconut milk
    Shake and strain, wet rim of cocktail glass and dip in shredded coconut flakes! It's healthy too because that vodka is lower calorie- Enjoy!!

    Nov 08, 2011 at 3:06 AM

  • Great cocktail thanks! Coudl I use <a href="" title="ZICO">ZICO</a> coconut water for ease?

    Nov 08, 2011 at 11:23 AM

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