While most of us are likely familiar with the brilliantly hued powder, turmeric is worth getting to know better!
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and grows to produce beautiful flowers. The part used to make the spice we know of as turmeric is a tuberous rhizome – or underground root. Once harvested, the roots are boiled then exposed to sunlight for several days to dry. Most frequently, this spice is then ground into a fine powder but can be bought in the tuberous form for a brighter flavor that has more of the bite of ginger. Dried turmeric is just as beneficial, although it loses some of its vibrancy.
Historically, turmeric has been used in food and drink for ages. It’s also used in natural dyes, skincare, and as a perfume ingredient. Fresh turmeric has a slightly peppery, earth aroma and a warm and bitter flavor profile that translates well to all kinds of cocktails. When dried, the same warm and earthy flavor comes through but with less of the ginger-adjacent bite. Both fresh and dried turmeric will add beautiful color to anything they’re mixed with.
Along with the flavor and color benefits, turmeric is reputed to have a host of health benefits, making it a great addition to an immunity-boosting drink. As with many holistic medicines, research on effectiveness is lacking, so there’s no way to say if it’s genuinely effective or more of a placebo. However, it’s been used to treat inflammation, pain, depression, stress, and more. While we can’t vouch for any real medical claims, we can say that the root does have high anti-oxidant and vitamin levels and makes for a delicious mixed drink.
When mixing with turmeric, a little goes a long way. The spice’s flavor isn’t too powerful, but the pigmentation is, so know that your cocktail will likely be yellow. Ground turmeric can make for a dramatic garnish, but let customers know to watch out, as any spillage may stain their skin and clothes. Another great way to use the spice is to make a syrup with it – either as a single note or combined with other spices, citrus, or even pineapple. The flavor itself plays well with a number of spirits; our favorite to mix with is mezcal, but vodka, gin, and even whiskey make for a dynamic combination.
Want to test out some turmeric cocktails for yourself? The Lunar Eclipse cocktail by Matt Ragan uses turmeric infused vodka and carrot juice cut with a few dashes of Angostura bitters for a refreshing, vitamin rich drink.
With a base of dry gin, the Delhi Cooler from The Whistler in Chicago is a spicy, fruity drink that’s easy to enjoy all year long. The Turmeric in this cocktail comes from a heavily spiced and lightly spicy syrup.
Try a spin on a Whiskey Sour with the addition of Turmeric! Using a home made Turmeric Sour mix made from the juice of lemon, lime, pineapple and fresh grated turmeric, it’s a totally unique take on a classic.