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Charcoal Is the Newest, Most Unlikely Cocktail Ingredient

It apparently has health benefits.

Hippest new cocktail ingredient.
Hippest new cocktail ingredient.

Charcoal isn't just for your grill anymore. According to the Drinks Business, it is now a popular ingredient in the cocktail world. Charcoal adds "dramatic colour, bitter, smoky flavour and granular texture to food and drinks." Bartenders are stirring charcoal powder into drinks featuring ingredients like rum, lime, whiskey, chamomile syrup, and bitters to create cocktails with playful names like the "Inked Daiquiri."

Plus, charcoal has many alleged health benefits: Charcoal — especially bamboo charcoal — was used in ancient Chinese medicine to heal stomach pain. Mixologist Cristian Cuevas, who manages the London bar Bull in a China Shop, tells the Drinks Business that the inspiration to put charcoal cocktails on the menu came from his "research into Japanese whiskey culture, which is centered around the ideas of good health, nature, and good whiskey." He adds, "I stumbled across bamboo charcoal powder, which helps your digestive system [too]." So he started adding them to drinks.

Charcoal isn't just popular in cocktails, but can also be found in food. Last fall, Burger King released a limited-edition Kuro Pearl burger that featured black buns made with bamboo charcoal. The Independent notes that a bakery in London is even making charcoal macarons with salted caramel.

And for those not interested in charcoal, but fascinated with black cocktails, there's another dark ingredient making the rounds. A growing number of bars and restaurants are serving drinks made with squid ink, which not only gives drinks an rich black color, but a "touch of salinity," as well.