Kombucha, the fermented tea drink the Chinese called the "immortal health elixir," has been around for more than 2 millenia, but it's only recently become popular in the West – mostly among the health-conscious crowd for its aid in digestion and mental clarity. Now, it's the latest trend in craft cocktails, popping up on drink menus in bars and restaurants throughout the country. One sip makes it easy to understand why: with mildly sweet, tangy flavor and light fizz pair well with almost any spirit and add character and interest to even the most traditional recipes.
A Versatile Mixer
There are as many flavors of kombucha as there are ways to incorporate it into your drink menu, which makes it the ultimate craft cocktail mixer. You can stick with the basics, choosing a traditional green or oolong kombucha, or you can pick from one of the hundreds of unique flavors offered by local and national kombucha producers. For example, GT's kombucha, a well-known brand sold nationally, offers its "botanic" blends with flavor combinations such as lavender and elderberry or bilberry, honeysuckle and red clover. Long Beach, California-based Fine Feathers Kombucha Co. boasts a lemon-cayenne blend as well as its signature Kombuffee, which combines the flavors of organic roasted coffee and sweet and sour kombucha.
Lemongrass-Ginger Kombucha Old-Fashioned
Craft bartenders delight in finding new ways to serve up one of the most classic cocktails: the old-fashioned. Kombucha producer NessAlla shakes up the flavors a bit in its take on the cocktail that calls for craft bourbon muddled with a maraschino cherry and Angostura bitters. The drink is given a bit of a kick with a topper of lemongrass-ginger kombucha. Served over ice with a cherry and an orange wedge, this citrusy old-fashioned redux will please the palates of even the most die-hard traditionalists.
Kombucha Peach Daiquiri
Daiquiris have all but disappeared from today's cocktail menus, but Stephen Lee, author of "Kombucha Revolution: 75 Recipes for Homemade Brews, Fixers, Elixirs, and Mixers," is hoping to revive the old favorite with this perfect summer recipe. Lee's update uses fresh skinned and pitted peaches, cane sugar, a little fresh-squeezed orange juice, vodka, dark rum and plain oolong kombucha. Just add some ice to blend up a slushy, sweet and tangy treat in a glass.
Strawberry-Infused Kombucha Moscow Mule
Everyone loves a Moscow mule, with its spicy ginger flavor balanced by smooth, high-quality vodka and a squeeze of fresh lime. Stick with tradition by serving it in a copper mug, but get creative by substituting the ginger beer with ginger-infused kombucha. Try out recipe developer Ashley McLaughlin's strawberry-infused kombucha Moscow mule during berry season by pureeing fresh strawberries with honey or agave, lime juice and freshly grated ginger. Pour vodka and the ginger-flavored kombucha of your choice into a mug, add more fresh lime juice, then spoon the strawberry puree on top. Add ice and stir. Garnish with strawberry slices, a lime wedge or a thin slice of fresh ginger root.