With its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties, turmeric has long been a mainstay of Indian cuisine. 

Now mixologists at restaurants serving Indian, Asian fusion, and flavours from virtually all corners of the world are adding this distinctively hued superfood to cocktails. 

Here are some curative turmeric cocktails to boost your immune system this winter.

Thanks to its happy yellow hue, earthy flavour and inflammation-fighting health benefits, turmeric root - the spice that gives curry its vibrant colour - turmeric cocktails are the latest in a series of healthy-ish drink crazes capturing the attention of drinkers and bartenders alike. 

The chrysanthemum-hued spice is famous for its detoxifying and immunity boosting abilities, but turmeric’s curative powers aren’t the only reason for its newfound popularity.

A number of new turmeric-tinged products have hit the bar world in the last year or so, and these teas, tonics and tinctures are helping bartenders get creative with the Indian seasoning. 

The spice’s herbal qualities can add unique depth and exotic flavour to cocktails - not to mention a nice pop of colour! 

WICKED: Julian Short, bartender and owner of Joburg’s 
Sin & Taxes.
Julian Short, 2017 Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year in South Africa, mixologist and owner of charismatic speak-easy, Sin + Tax Bar in Rosebank, reportedly seeks out turmeric (in addition to other healthful ingredients like kombucha and green tea) to give his cocktails a “herbaceous edge”.

In addition, he feels that turmeric cocktails have the ability to inspire a sense of mystery in drinkers that subconsciously trigger memories of past experiences with the flavour. Here are three cocktails that Short believes are doing turmeric right.

Himalayan Lassi 

Short has created contemporary blends of Asian flavours with this cocktail. The floral and fruity aromas combine the Cognac, ginger liqueur, and mango-turmeric beautifully especially when served in one such elusive vessel as a Collins glass and garnish with viola flowers. 

Gold Medal

When asked what inspired this cocktail with a twist, Short said, “I try to create healthier cocktails in a practical way by using inhouse-made fruit purées and natural sugars, such as honey, agave, and organic maple syrup. I also try to incorporate healthy options, such as avocado, activated charcoal, ginger, turmeric, and pineapple, to make cocktails that are delicious, gorgeous, and packed with more superfoods than traditional cocktails!” The Gold Medal includes cinnamon bitter, mango purée, lime juice, and turmeric-infused agave. 

Mr. T 

This is an A-Team-inspired cocktail made with white rum, triple sec, lemon juice, pickled turmeric juice, honey syrup, and a spoon of apricot jam. “I used what would be a wasted ingredient (the turmeric pickle juice) to balance out the other flavours and create a uniquely colourful and tasty treat,” Short says. “The stone fruit jam was a cross-use ingredient as the kitchen uses it in our chicken sandwich. This allowed us to not only create a tasty cocktail but also reduce waste in our bar” 

Call it the Midas touch, but if you’re a fan of turmeric’s flavour, it can turn even bland cocktails into nutritional gold. And let’s face it, we can all use a little more help drinking healthier.