Make this citrus-infused kombucha mocktail part of your healthy new year

Here's a festive, effervescent drink for dry January – but there's an alcoholic version, too

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Food Editor

Published January 5, 2020 5:30PM (EST)

Citrus-infused kombucha cocktail (Ashlie Stevens)
Citrus-infused kombucha cocktail (Ashlie Stevens)

It's that time of the year when you'll find the grocery store aisles packed with customers who are paused, cans and bags in hand, scanning the list of ingredients for what they can't have on their new diet plan. The shopping experience becomes a sort of unlucky game of culinary Monopoly: "Go back to start, do not pass go. This item has dairy or sugar or soy, take it out of your cart." 

I'm all for eating in a way that makes your body feel better, but it seems increasingly that these diets focus on elimination rather than moderation; it's a trap that I've definitely fallen into, as well. If I want to be "healthy" I need to cut all these ingredients out of my diet for a week, a month or forever.

My understanding of health has evolved in recent years, and my only food-based resolution this year is to, on a semi-regular basis, think about making conscious swaps for foods that are a little more nutrient-dense.

This cocktail (or mocktail, depending on your persuasion and level of resolution) is one of the places I started, substituting straight simple syrup for a honey mixture and lemon soda and muddled orange for sugary fruit juice. Let's be realistic; I know two ounces of kombucha — which, due to its fermented nature has been touted as a  digestive aid — isn't going to make a big difference in your gut health. But its effervescence and strong ginger flavor is a great way to add a lot of natural flavor with very little effort. 

Citrus-Infused Kombucha Mocktail

¼ large orange, cut in rough cubes

2 ounces of tonic water (or gin if you're not going dry)

½ tablespoon of honey

2 ounces of ginger kombucha 

1 ounce of lemon soda (I like San Pellegrino Limonata or, for an extra dash of alcohol, Bravazzi Hard Italian Soda)

Candied ginger, orange peel (optional garnish) 

  1. In a small sauce pot, bring ¼ cup of water to a boil. Meanwhile, put the honey in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of boiling water and stir vigorously until the honey is completely dissolved. Set aside. 
  2. In a small glass, muddle the orange cubes and tonic water or gin. The liquid will take on a slightly golden hue. 
  3. Strain into a cocktail mixer over ice, adding the honey mixture, and kombucha. Shake and pour into a fresh glass, topping with the lemon soda; garnish with candied ginger or an orange peel. 

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is Salon's food editor. She is also an award-winning radio producer, editor and features writer — with a special emphasis on food, culture and subculture. Her writing has appeared in and on The Atlantic, National Geographic’s “The Plate,” Eater, VICE, Slate, Salon, The Bitter Southerner and Chicago Magazine, while her audio work has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and Here & Now, as well as APM’s Marketplace. She is based in Chicago.

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