Juicing For All the Right Reasons

Give this woman the favorite tool of health-conscious eaters, and she’ll figure out how to subvert its purpose.

There is mounting evidence that if you gave me a treadmill, I’d find a way to make cocktails with it. I bought a juicer to be healthy but this story clearly ends with a highball glass, a garnish, and a fraction of refined poison.


My purchase of a juicer was, like so many purchases, the direct result of my wanting to emulate a really good-looking person. I was in her kitchen, shielding my eyes from her lightbox complexion while pretending to listen to her talk. Despite serious foot surgery, apparently she was eager to get jogging again. (“Oh totally,” I sympathized, rotating a bottle of gin vertically, “I plan to start standing again regularly when the Law and Order season ends.”)

The conversation turned toward a contraption on her counter that looked like the offspring that would result if a meat grinder mated with some distilling equipment: a juicer. The glowing girl said she “juiced” every day, which sounded to me like steroid use and has a similar goal—vitality, strength, and longevity. The idea is that the juicer, via liquefaction and de-pulping, delivers the nutritional benefits of a quantity of fruits, roots, and vegetables that one would be hard-pressed to eat in their whole form, i.e. a bunch of grapes, a head of celery, a root of ginger, and four limes.

Jack LaLanne is juicing’s most famous spokes/salesperson. Did you know that Jack LaLanne, at age 70, handcuffed and shackled, swam 1.5 miles towing 70 boats with 70 people through Long Beach Harbor? I’m actually not in good enough shape to picture that. The man turns 95 this fall. I didn’t buy LaLanne’s brand-name juicer (you’ve seen the infomercials: “Save your life!” he bleats) because frankly, after I had to wait six agonizing weeks to get my Presidential Bloopers DVD in the mail, I called a moratorium on mail-order purchases. Six weeks is too long to wait when you’re in the mood to see President Ford eat pavement. Likewise for saving your life. So I picked up a juicer in my neighborhood.

Jack LaLanne is not kidding about salvation. His cult-leader enthusiasm is mirrored in the cultish language of people who juice. They often use “to juice” non-transitively: I juice, you juice, we juice. You don’t hear people saying to each other in hushed tones, “Do you Cuisinart, man? I Cuisinart every day,” or “I’ve been mandolinning for a couple years now,” or “We should get together and blend.” People have juicing parties; they exchange formulas; they salute each other with their knowing glows.

I wanted to join them. With my shiny new juicer—not cheap at $80, and not near top of the line—I liquefied a couple of blood oranges and a grapefruit. Watching the garnet-colored juice tumble into a glass made my mouth water. And then, in true conversion-episode fashion, the glass of juice spoke to me.

“Psst. You there. Yes, you in the totally unused yogatard.”


“You know what would make me even more delicious?”

“I don’t know—a kumquat? Spirulina? Whey? I’m new at this.”

“Splash vodka. Li’l triple sec.”

“Oh come on, I’m about to go to yoga.”

“You’ve literally never been to yoga. You think yoga is a coffee shop called Yoga. You’re holding a rolled-up doormat.”

Who are you?

“I don’t know, Sicilian Greyhound? Grapefruit Bloodtini? Sex on the Greenmarket? Look, you’re the wordsmith, just open the freezer and let’s make this happen.”


Maybe I am in the juicing cult for the wrong reason; maybe using your juicer for cocktails is like going to church for the antemeridian sip of Chianti. And sure, some fresh virgin cucumber juice on a hot day is a treat. But a white Bloody Mary, made with cucumber and celery juice instead of tomato? Even better.

I’m just getting started. Professional bartenders, the high priests of the juicing cult, have a head start on me, so I turned to Tom Hogan, the bartender at Chicago’s North Pond, for a recipe. North Pond, which occupies an Art Deco lodge from 1912 overlooking a quaint pond in Lincoln Park, is the type of restaurant that tells you on which patch of local grass your blissful duck was euthanized; the chef, Bruce Sherman, is serious and vocal about the importance of the local and the fresh. That ethos plays out at the little front bar—one of my favorites in Chicago—in Hogan’s often bright, vegetal drinks. Drink up—and remember, you’re saving your life!

What’s Up, Doc?

1 1/2 oz gin*
1 oz fresh carrot juice
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz fresh orange juice
Splash simple syrup
1/4 cup sugar
Handful of cardamom seeds

Combine sugar and cardamom and grind in a food processor to a fine powder. Use powder to rim the edge of a Martini glass.

Assemble remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker; shake vigorously and strain into the rimmed Martini glass. Garnish with carrot greens or a thin slice of carrot.

*Hogan uses North Shore Gin # 6, which has strong cardamom notes (even the gin comes from a local Illinois distillery.)

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