Thirsty Thursday – Kombucha Cocktails

written by Melina

For Thirsty Thursday this month we look at the rising popularity of fermented drinks and how you can use them both for health benefits and, in true Thirsty Thursday style, as the base for an effervescent cocktail.

One of the most popular is called Kombucha  – a sweetened tea fermented to produce a probiotic drink. It is an excellent drink for improving digestion and supporting healthy bacteria in the gut. Its high enzyme content also promotes healthy digestion and nutrient absorption. Kombucha has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties, and the ability to improve liver function and reduce oxidative stress in the body. Many people report success in relieving their symptoms of arthritis, allergies, chronic fatigue, hypertension, metabolic disorders and digestive issues.

The magic ingredient in producing the drink is the SCOBY, which is an acronym standing for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It resembles a rubbery pancake but is essential in the fermentation process. The final drink’s flavours can range from pleasantly vinegar-y to champagne-like, with sweetness varying according to the original brew and second fermentations. There are many recipes online for how to home-brew Komucha and also suggestions of where to get your first SCOBY.

Fermenting anything sweet with yeasts is going to produce alcohol, that is just nature! With kombucha you’re looking at an average of 0.5 – 1% alcohol by volume. So why not use it as a base for a lovely Spring cocktail:

Blackberry Basil Kombucha Shrub Cocktail

For the Shrub:

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
  • ½ cup maple syrup (can also use sugar or honey, etc.)
  • 1 cup vinegary kombucha (can also use unflavored, raw kombucha)
  • 2-4 Tablespoons loosely packed basil leaves and blossoms

For the Cocktail:

  • Crushed ice
  • 50ml kombucha shrub
  • 50ml quality gin
  • Sparkling mineral water
  • extra berries and basil blossoms, for garnish
To make the shrub, place the berries, maple syrup, basil, and blossoms in a large jar. Mash well to release the berry juices. Add the kombucha. Cover and let steep in the fridge for at least 24 hours for best flavour. Strain, pressing down on the berries to get as much juice as possible. Discard the pulp.
To make the cocktail, place desired amount of ice in a glass and add the kombucha scrub and 50ml of gin. Fill the glass with sparkling water and garnish.
Serve immediately.