Healthy Booze: Consumers want healthier ways to imbibe - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Healthy Booze: Consumers want healthier ways to imbibe

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

As more people are looking for ways to eat clean, healthier foods, now they're demanding healthier alcoholic drinks, too.

Bars, brewers, and drink manufacturers are starting to serve them up...but is there such a thing as "Healthy Booze?"

James Foster showed us how he mixes up the most-requested cocktail at the Daily Kitchen and Bar: the watermelon Kombucha martini.

"We do fresh watermelon juice that we do four times a week, Kombucha and basil, ginger, watermelon and Demura, which is a simple syrup," said Foster.

He says customers are bellying up to the bar, wanting what they consider to be more healthful drinks: gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, drinks made with superfoods, such as acai berries or coconut water.

"We do a bunch of cocktails with Kombucha," Foster told us. "That's a pro-biotic fermented tea, with a little bit of carbonation."

Some cocktails are made vegan with Aquafaba, which is chickpea brine.

"This is kind of a vegan way to do egg white replacement in cocktails, which provides kind of a frothy kind of texture," said Foster.

Several beer makers now serve beer that ranges from gluten-reduced to gluten-free. Ardent Craft Ales' taproom manager Lincoln Smith is developing totally gluten-free beers he hopes to offer soon.

"My son is six years old. He was diagnosed four years ago with Celiac's disease. So the desire to open a brewery became a desire to open a gluten-free brewery," he told us of his inspiration.

Smith says customers are also asking for beer with healthy ingredients.

"More clean, pure sources, knowing where everything is coming from. There's a great local movement here in Richmond that's been phenomenal," said Smith.

Ardent already serves some much requested, low-alcohol beers. They showed us an example of a low-alcohol beer, saying customers don't notice a difference in color or taste from higher-alcohol beers.

Vodka tends not to have gluten, but Stoli launched the first certified gluten-free vodka this year, followed by Smirnoff launching it's Sourced gluten-free vodka made with real fruit juice. Baileys now has a dairy-free liqueur for vegans. It's made with almond milk.

But enjoying a drink is about indulging. So is there really such a thing as healthy booze?

Foster said, it's still alcohol, but consumers feel better about it.

"I think we've always wanted to have our cake and eat it, too. So, yes. People want to have their cocktails and they want to be a little healthy, at least," he said.

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