Your Health!

Much has been said about alcohol (in moderation) being good for you. But now the claims go beyond the heart benefits of a glass of red wine. Now cocktails are touted for containing antioxidant pomegranate juice and green tea. Now Bloody Marys are hailed for reducing blood clots, thanks to the tomato juice they contain (and the tabasco, some say). How much of this do Seattle barkeeps believe as they mix up potions to cure your ills? Fu Kun Wu, the Chinese apothecary-inspired bar tucked into Thaiku Thai restaurant in Ballard, is legendary for featuring drinks made with a variety of Chinese herbs, many reputed to have medicinal properties. "Studies on wine all said 'red wine, red wine.' Now they say that any drink is good for your heart," notes Perryn Wright, Fu Kun Wu's bar manager. Though a physician might demur, he also opines that "having a bit of alcohol on a regular basis could also be good because it kicks your liver into gear." He makes the bar's Oolong Teani ($7) with black tea–infused Monopolova vodka, lemon, and sugar. "Black tea has a little bit of caffeine, which isn't good for you, but the tannins are good for digestion," notes Wright. TC Nuckles, bar manager at Dragonfish Asian Cafe downtown, likes to think the restaurant's Bloody Mary ($6), made with soy and wasabi, has curative properties. He adds that many of the drinks he makes with fresh fruit purees may also be health enhancing. Dragonfish's rubyberry slush ($6) is made with raspberry puree, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and house-infused lemongrass vodka. But green tea seems to be the hot new antioxidant of choice, and its liquorous siblings are popping up in drinks all over town. At Magnolia's Szmania's, the Zen Tea-ni ($9) features a mix of Zen Green Tea Liqueur, Hangar One Buddha's Hand Citron vodka and Rose's lime juice. "I haven't read the back of the bottle to see if [the green tea liqueur] has nutritional value," admits bar manager Thomas Dodson. The restaurant also makes a Pom Pom ($9), with pomegranate juice, muddled fresh mint, lime, and triple sec, a drink Dodson surmises "has a little nutritional value because of the amount of juice that's in it." Szmania's even features a drink called the Health ($9), made with muddled basil, yellow bell peppers, Absolut Vanilla vodka, and sour. "The basil is fresh and the bell pepper has vitamin C," says Dodson. The fact is, mixing juice or herbs into your tipple probably has no effect at all on health, besides a good drink's well-known efficacy in helping the imbiber to relax and bond with others. Molly Lori, a former dietician with a master's degree in public health, notes: "I don't believe that the amount of juice used in—and subsequently the number of antioxidants contained in—cocktails would be enough to make a significant impact on one's cardiovascular health." So don't kid yourself; it's not medicine, it's fun.

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