Refreshing Turmeric Tonic
Although I consider myself very much a Northern California girl, it took a mere 24 hours in Los Angeles before I was drinking the So-Cal Kool-Aid. In this case, it was actually the refreshing Turmeric Tonic that I embraced, not Kool-Aid. The location? An L.A. hotspot called Sqirl, famous for its long lines and inventive food.
I’ve been wanting to eat at Sqirl for a few years, but hadn’t made it to the hipper-than-this-middle-aged-mom neighborhood of Silver Lake until last week, my three daughters in tow. We dutifully stood in line, wondering if it was worth the fuss. Luckily, the place runs with an efficiency that belies it’s casual vibe. As for the menu? It reads like LA’s spin on a Portlandia episode, so I figured I’d go “all in” by ordering a drink called Turmeric Tonic. Like everything about the place, it surprised me in the best possible way.
What is Turmeric Tonic?
The drink is a combination of lemon juice, turmeric, and ginger, with just enough sweetness to balance out the flavors. Served over ice, the Tonic was light, refreshing, and felt like I was drinking sunshine, straight up. This recipe is my spin on Sqirl’s tasty tonic.
Turmeric is a root that looks like a smaller, more vibrant cousin to ginger. Most often, you’ll find it sold as a ground spice, tucked alongside tarragon and thyme. It has a warm, earthy flavor and one of the most appealing scents in the spice cabinet. Turmeric is a common ingredient in dishes throughout Asia and in various other pockets of the globe. Because of its bright color, take care when using turmeric, because it can stain clothes and cooking equipment alike.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
In addition to what turmeric can do for flavor, it has long been prized for its medicinal properties. It’s known for the anti-inflammatory and anti-viral potential of one of its key compounds: curcumin. Researchers are hard at work examining what turmeric might do for everything from irritable bowel syndrome to Alzheimer’s disease, but more studies are needed to determine the best form, dose, and any potential risks. In the meantime, I feel good about incorporating it into my cooking, knowing it likely has healthy upsides.
Where to Buy and How to Store Turmeric
While dried turmeric is widely available in the spice section of standard supermarkets, the fresh turmeric called for in this recipe is harder to come by. That said, I’m seeing it more often these days, sold in the produce section of health food stores, specialty markets, and Asian and Middle Eastern grocery shops. Store it in a covered container or plastic bag in the produce drawer of the fridge, and use within one to two weeks. What you don’t use, you can store in the freezer.
At the moment, I’ve got a double batch of Turmeric Tonic in my fridge, which we’ve been drinking in small glasses each morning. When a friend recovering from a cold popped by yesterday, I poured her a tall one, thinking the combination of turmeric, ginger, lemon, and honey to be exactly what the doctor ordered. My friend agreed.
For other recipes with turmeric, check out:
Chia Fresca with Pineapple and Turmeric from Food Confidence
Golden Milk Latte by Marisa Moore
Refreshing Turmeric Tonic
Start your day with a small glass of this bright, tangy, refreshing tonic. Look for fresh turmeric in the produce section of health food, specialty, or Asian markets. To boost the bioavailability of the curcumin in this drink, add a little crack of black pepper to each glass just before serving. Feel free to double the recipe and scale the honey up or down, depending on how sweet you like it. Also, do your best to be tidy when using turmeric, since it can stain both clothing and cooking equipment.
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 cups water, divided
- 1/2 cup unpeeled, chopped fresh turmeric (about 2 1/2 ounces; substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric if you can't find fresh)
- 1 scant tablespoon peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger
In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and honey until the honey dissolves. Add 1 1/2 cups of the water.
Put the turmeric, ginger, and the remaining 1/2 cup of the water in a powerful blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Run to pulverize the ingredients, scraping down the sides and running the blender/processor again as needed.
Pour the contents of the blender/food processor into a fine mesh sieve set over the bowl of lemon honey water. Press down firmly on the turmeric/ginger to extract as much of the liquid as possible.
Stir the Tonic with a whisk and pour into a small pitcher. Serve in small glasses over ice.
Inspired by the Turmeric Tonic from the restaurant Sqirl.