Women-owned Virginia companies crafting gourmet cocktail mixers with one key ingredient in mind—health
Photos courtesy of Red Root Co. and Navy Hill
Virginia women are changing the game when it comes to healthier drinking, both locally and beyond the borders of Coastal Virginia. In this story, we travel out of the region to Richmond and Harrisonburg to learn about two women-owned companies that are creating health-focused alternatives to your favorite cocktails.
Richmond’s Navy Hill Tonic + Soda, which was featured on The Today Show, combines soda and tonic for a healthier alternative to delicious drinking. Founders Jenny Lucas and Katie Williams, both alums of the University of Virginia, came up with the idea in a bar as they were craving a cocktail that was sweet, yet crisp. Their medley of bubbly goodness satisfied the taste they were looking for and, even better, with fewer calories. Their popular “sonic” blend comes in multiple flavors, including ginger and juniper, and contains added electrolytes. With only 17 calories and five grams of sugar per cocktail, these trendy mixers are available online and at retailers like Harris Teeter, Whole Foods Market and TASTE.
Red Root & Co., located in the heart of Harrisonburg, uses high quality local organic ingredients to handcraft plant-based concoctions that can be used both as a tasty cocktail mixer and an herbal remedial substance. The company was named after the red root plant, which has been used historically as an ingredient in herbal medicines. While many of their blends are perfect for beverages, they can also be added into your favorite food recipes to include that extra dose of nourishment.
Red Root offers a variety of products, each with specific health benefits in mind. From bitters and tonics to syrups and infusions, these blends are designed to please the palate while contributing to the body’s well-being. Shrub, their signature syrup, is a drinking vinegar that their website describes as “the conjunction of ideas of scrubby plants.” Made with botanicals, raw organic apple cider vinegar and raw honey, the gourmet beverage mixer becomes a lively alternative, packing in the punch without any artificial flavors or colorings.
Bitters, a well-known digestive aid and common element in cocktails, is uniquely concocted by Red Root & Co. following an herbal tradition, saturating plant material into alcohol or glycerin to create a tincture and then combining the different tinctures into a variety of flavored and medicinal bitters. Their herbal cocktail mixers can be purchased on their website or in a handful of small businesses in Virginia, including Ellwood Thompson’s in Richmond, Friendly City Co-op in Harrisonburg, Good Health Herbs in Midlothian and others.
While Navy Hill Tonic + Soda and Red Root & Co. are paving the way for healthier drinking, they are not the only women-owned Virginia businesses in the game. Blackwater Bitters, based in Lynchburg, has developed an array of flavored cocktail bitters to enhance your favorite beverages and Keep It Simple Syrup, born in Richmond, provides a line of flavored simple syrups containing steeped fresh mint leaves that leaves mixing cocktails as an easy, mess-free task. The ideas surrounding gourmet cocktail mixers are only just growing as consumers become more aware of the ingredients that their favorite cocktails contain and the impact they may leave on their overall health.