A Healthier Happy Hour

For those who try to make healthy food and drink choices but don’t mind a social tipple from time to time, a new trend will come as welcome news: alcoholic beverages with a wholesome bent.According to a recent report in The New York Times, U.S. beverage makers are offering an increasing number of new products targeted to health-aware consumers, with added nutritional value and lower alcohol and calorie content. The companies are also trying to attract more women without alienating men, and mint new drinkers while retaining the loyalty of the beer- and liquor-loving faithful.

To that end, you’ll now find products like Kombrewcha — tagline “Drink Different” — which is a low-alcohol (2 percent), low-cal (65 to 75 calories per bottle) kombucha beer/tea combo offering “boatloads of live probiotics, vitamins and organic acids” and also promising “to get you tickled, not pickled.” Brewed with agave nectar and available in four flavors — Royal Ginger, Lemongrass Lime, Blackberry Hibiscus and Original — Kombrewcha proudly bears the labels “USDA Organic,” “Gluten Free” and “Fair Trade Certified Ingredient.”

Heineken, meanwhile, has brought to the United States Amstel Radler, a 40 percent beer/60 percent “natural juice” lemonade combo, after consumers in Central and Eastern Europe embraced the bottled beverage. The Bavarian-inspired brew, said to have origins reaching back to Munich in 1922, “taps into the growing trend towards non-processed products as it contains no artificial additives and has a natural, cloudy appearance resulting from the lemon juice,” according to Heineken press materials, which also boast that Radler’s low alcohol content (2 percent, like Kombrewcha, although, with 145 calories per bottle, it’s not quite as low-cal) makes it attractive to those not wanting to overindulge, especially “at lunchtime or after sport,” and appeals to women and men alike. A company spokeswoman told the Times it was the top product on Heineken’s global growth list.

Not to be outdone or outmaneuvered, the Times notes, the global liquor giant Diageo is offering a ready-to-drink, 150-calorie, 5.8-percent-alcohol Parrot Bay margarita featuring coconut water and lime juice, sold in an eight-ounce can. The brewers behind Ommegang beer, Vanberg & DeWulf, now sell a lambic beer/kombucha combination, with 3.5 percent alcohol by volume, called Lambrucha, positioned as “the mystic marriage of two fermented drinks.”

What’s more, gluten-free beer options, as well as those made with unusual ingredients like seaweed and beets, abound.

In other words, it’s easier than ever to enjoy a drink — without the guilt chaser.

Amy Reiter also contributes to FN Dish.

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