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Jet-black cocktails juiced with activated charcoal are the coolest new beverages at trendsetting bars across the country. With a dark and mysterious appeal, charcoal cocktails are perfect for Halloween season – and they’re surprisingly healthy. Discover what activated charcoal can do for you and how to create DIY detox drinks.
What Is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is a form of carbon, the second most abundant element in the human body (after oxygen) and a common element of all known lifeforms. It becomes “activated” when it is processed to have small pores. These tiny, low-volume pores increase the surface area of the carbon. A higher surface area increases the carbon’s adsorption, or its ability to attract atoms and molecules to its surface.
The activated charcoal sold in stores is usually derived from a high-quality charcoal such as bituminous (black asphalt) coal and/or lignite (brown peat) coal. Some brands may also contain other carbonized ingredients such as wood, coconut shells, and bamboo – make sure you read the label.
Why Is Activated Charcoal Healthy?
Activated charcoal is noted for its ability to remove toxins and impurities from the body. It is used to treat some poisonings and overdoses, as well as less-serious bouts of diarrhea and indigestion. Savvy globetrotters never forget to pack activated charcoal, which can alleviate the duration and severity of traveler’s diarrhea.
One note of warning: Because charcoal is ultra-absorbent, it also binds with vitamins and minerals and removes them from your body. If you’re drinking charcoal, don’t overlap your cocktail with your meal or medications – and make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet. As with any supplement, and consult with your doctor before consuming. Activated charcoal may interact with some medications.
Charcoal Is the New Black
For most people, activated charcoal is a natural, flavorless detoxing agent – which makes it the new darling of the health-conscious cocktail scene. While the science is still out, it may also may help prevent hangovers. Find activated charcoal capsules at your local health food store. Try it in one of the following recipes – you’ll only need a pinch. Save the rest of the charcoal for your next trip abroad.
5 Activated Charcoal Cocktail Recipes
- Midnight Beach Rumtini – Stir ¾ ounce simple syrup with ½ capsule of charcoal until the powder is completely dissolved. Add to a cocktail shaker with ice, 2 ounces coconut rum, ½ ounce white rum, 1 ½ ounce pineapple juice, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a slice of pineapple or a tropical flower.
- Tequila Moonrise – Mix together ½ capsule of charcoal and 2 teaspoons grenadine until the powder is completely dissolved. Add to an ice-filled shaker along with 2 ounces fresh orange juice and 2 ounces gold tequila. Shake, strain, and serve over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange slice and cherry.
- Dark Side Shandy – Thoroughly dissolve ½ capsule of charcoal in ½ cup fresh lemonade in a tall glass. Add one can of light blonde beer. Garnish with a lemon slice.
- Death in Paradise – Mix ½ capsule of charcoal with passion fruit syrup. Pour in an ice-filled shaker and add 3 ounces white tea, 1 ounce vodka, 1 ½ ounce fresh grapefruit juice, 1 ounce fresh pomegranate juice, and two basil leaves. Shake vigorously and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of grapefruit.
- Ebony Ink – Dissolve ½ capsule of charcoal in 1 ½ ounce single-malt whiskey and 1 ½ ounce bourbon in a shaker. Add ice, a dash of bitters, and a squeeze of fresh lime. Shake, strain, and serve in a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with a slice of lime.
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