An Interview with Zen and Tonic's Jules Aron

I love a woman mixologist, as you well know, so we wanted to feature this brand new book by the lovely Jules Aron, Zen and Tonic: Savory and Fresh Cocktails for the Enlightened Drinker. A long time bartender and health and nutrition coach, Jules has created a book full of cocktail recipes incorporating ingredients that are delicious and healthy with tons of freshly pressed juices and herbal infusions.

If you know me, you probably know that I'm not exactly a health nut. I'm a runner and I cook well balanced meals most days of the week, but I'm also an indulger. I didn't end up on this career path for no good reason! So I was skeptical about whether these cocktails would TASTE good, but it's clear that Jules loves food. The books is filled with gorgeous photography (courtesy of Gyorgy Papp) of cocktails with varied spirits and delicious flavor pairings. Think frozen boozy popsicles with mango, jalapeno, lime, and turmeric or the Glow, Baby, Glow, whose recipe we've featured below, with gin, kale, apple, honeydew, cucumber, and lime. It's like boozy green juice. Day drinking anyone?!

Here's a little interview with Jules and a recipe from the book. Stay tuned for a giveaway from Jules including some Love & Victory merch in the coming days, too!

Congrats, Jules!
xomeg

 photo by Rafael Rincon

photo by Rafael Rincon

Q: How did the idea for Zen and Tonic come about? When did you know that a book was the right format?

It makes me sad to hear people order vodka sodas because they’re watching what they eat. There’s so much more to life than steamed chicken and broccoli, and that goes for drinks as well. Food from nature is so colorful and flavorful and is meant to be enjoyed in its entirety. It’s not about fat-free-this-in-a-bottle and sugar-free-that-in-a-can, it’s about wholesome foods from nature that your body recognizes. Eat more nutritious food and you’ll eat less, naturally. Because your body is getting the nutrients it needs to thrive.

I wanted to offer easy and delicious drinks that incorporated some of the most nutrient rich fruits, veggies, herbs and spices that would allow folks to finally feel good about what they drank without sacrificing flavor and pleasure. And the book seemed like the perfect medium for my recipes.

 Cherry Coconut Chiller / photo by Gyorgy Papp

Cherry Coconut Chiller / photo by Gyorgy Papp

Q: With roots as a bartender — and that world not being known for its healthy lifestyle — is health something that you were always interested in? Or did it come to you later that you could help folks reform their drinking habits into something a little more beneficial?

I spent my twenties logging in as many hours behind the bar as I did in the dojo as a martial artist. I was very passionate about my training and was careful about what I ate, and that translated into my drinking habits as well.  Sour mixes and simple syrups always tasted too sweet and artificial to me and gave me headaches and hangovers. I always modified my own cocktails and (had my share of vodka sodas!), but it wasn’t until I started studying holistic nutrition and eastern traditions that I realized that living a healthy lifestyle is not about depriving yourself. It’s about feeling good and that includes wholesome ingredients and drinks that are flavorful and delicious. Once I saw how the organic movement took off, I knew I wasn’t the only one.

 The Jessica Rabbit / photo by Gyorgy Papp

The Jessica Rabbit / photo by Gyorgy Papp

Q: I love that the book is educational but not preachy, and it’s clear that you love food. The flavor combinations are spot on. Do you have a recipe you’re most proud of?

Thank you. I love food! I truly believe we are genetically hard wired to seek out pleasure, so it’s my very intention to keep the recipes simple and delicious that folks can truly enjoy with family and friends. I simply help them rediscover natural flavor combinations that will tantalize their taste buds and infuse their lives with healthy ingredients at the same time.

My favorites vary on my mood: I love the Spring Fling for a garden party (recipe below), The Pineapple Express for a backyard barbecue, The Jessica Rabbit for brunch with the ladies, and the Glow, Baby, Glow is a great anytime shot of awesomeness.

 Pineapple Express / photo by Gyorgy Papp

Pineapple Express / photo by Gyorgy Papp

Q: You include many different spirits in the book: rum, tequila, whiskey, vodka. I know many health conscious folks drink vodka because it’s “cleaner.” Are there spirits that you think have more health benefit? Is the sugar content the main issue?

I don’t avoid a piece of fruit because of its sugar content, and don’t avoid certain spirits for the same reason. I look at spirits as a conduit into the blood stream, the healthier the ingredients in your drink, the more health benefits. Choose a quality spirit of your liking. Explore small batch and organic labels. Then try infusing them with your favorite herbs, spices, fruits, flowers, etc.

 Spring Fling / photo by Gyorgy Papp

Spring Fling / photo by Gyorgy Papp

Q: What’s next for the Healthy Bartender? A vacation?! 

As much as I could use a getaway right about now, I’m working on my second book..on vegan cheeses. With the popularity of nut milks these days, It’s opened up a whole new world of cheese making possibilities, that up until recently, was mainly reserved for soy based products. Yes, a slight departure, from healthy cocktails, yet I’m already thinking of all the exciting drink pairings I can create!

 Glow, Baby, Glow / photo by Gyorgy Papp

Glow, Baby, Glow / photo by Gyorgy Papp

GLOW, BABY, GLOW by Jules Aron

makes 4 shots

4 large kale leaves
1 apple
1/2 honeydew melon
1 medium-sized cucumber
1 lime
4 oz gin

Juice all the ingredients, except the gin. Transfer to a shaker with ice and add the gin. Pour into four shot glasses.