By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Mar 29, 2018 at 10:01 AM

"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee is brought to you by Miller Brewing Company, calling Milwaukee home since 1855. For the entire month of March, we're serving up fun articles on bars, clubs and beverages – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

The phrase "everything in moderation" applies in spades when it comes to the alcohol, an indulgence that has been shown to be relatively healthful when consumed mindfully.

Take for instance this study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, which  found that moderate alcohol consumption helped reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 13 percent in men and 20 percent in women. Another study in the European Heart Journal suggests that middle-aged men or women who consume a small glass of wine, eight ounces of beer, or one shot of hard liquor per day could cut their risk of heart failure by 20 or 16 percent, respectively. 

But moderation isn’t the only way to bring a more healthful approach to drinking. Being conscious of the ingredients in your cocktails can be just as effective. Here are five local products that can be used to boost the benefits from your next tipple.

1. Bittercube bitters

Bittering agents have long been used to create elixirs that promote health and wellness. Botanicals like cinchona bark (which is a natural source of quinine), has been used to combat malaria, fend off leg cramps, ease stomach problems and treat blood vessel disorders. 

Lucky us, we have a quality maker of bitters right in our own backyard. Bittercube boasts a superior, slow-crafted process for making their bitters, which contain only natural botanicals (and no artificial or chemically-derived extracts).

New to bitters? Nearly every cocktail can benefit from the boost of a dropperful. Try Bittercube’s Cherry Bark Vanilla for flavors of cocoa, almond, vanilla and fennel. Add Bolivar to enhance your drink with floral and spice notes, including chamomile, jasmine and cinnamon. Or add the zip of pepper, allspice and ginger with Jamaican #1 (it’s great in a Moscow Mule).

Not in the mood for alcohol? Add your choice of bitters to a glass of seltzer water for a flavorful beverage that’s not unlike LaCroix.

2. Your favorite local coffee

Want to live longer? Drink coffee. That’s the advice given by longevity expert Dan Buettner, who credited the beverage with being "one of the biggest sources of antioxidants in the American diet." 

It’s good news for those who look to the beverage for their morning jolt. But it might also be good for folks looking for a way to boost their next cocktail.

Cold Brew Rum Sour
2 ounces of cold brew coffee from your favorite local roaster
2 ounces of Twisted Path Dark Rum
½ ounce of brown sugar simple syrup
¾ ounce of lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a glass over ice. Stir to combine. Add a strip of lemon zest as an aromatic garnish.

Coffee Tonic
2 shots of espresso
3-4 ounces Top Note Indian Tonic Water

Pour espresso over ice. Top with tonic.

Craving something sweeter? Try the Dublin Iced Coffee, a recipe Bon Appetit describes as "a delicious mix of caffeine, dessert and danger." We’re intrigued. 

3. Rishi Tea

There’s an increasing amount of evidence that shows that tea is fantastic for health. It’s a good source for antioxidants, flavonoids and other good for you ingredients. Even better, tea packs a huge flavor punch when infused in alcohol (try steeping your favorite tea in vodka to make a flavorful brew) or brewed into a cocktail.

Battling a cold?
Make a toddy by steeping an 8 ounce cup of tea, adding 2 ounces of spirits (brandy, rum or whiskey), a splash of honey and a squeeze of lemon. You’ll be sleeping better in no time.

You could also make an antioxidant rich mojito with matcha. Or enjoy the tropical fruitiness of a Mar-tea-ni made with hibiscus roiboos tea, which will give you a fair amount of Vitamin C, Omega 3’s and more.

4. Top Note tonics

Before someone invented horrible-for-you sodas filled with high fructose corn syrup, there were tonics, beverages prized for their functionality as digestive aids. Milwaukee’s Top Note has created a modern day version that makes liberal use of healthful botanicals, while creating a quaff that’s significantly lower in sugar than many other soft drinks. Best of all, Top Note is ultra versatile. You can drink it on its own or use it to create a variety of cocktails from highballs and radlers to wine-based spritzers.

Here’s a refreshing recipe to start you off.

Cucumber lemon gin & tonic
1 ½ parts savory gin
1 part cucumber juice (celery juice is also nice)
3 parts lemon tonic
Squeeze of lemon

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake to blend, then strain into a glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice or lemon peel.

5. Zyn

Looking for a new mixer? Want something with a bit of oomph? Think about Zyn, the Milwaukee-born functional beverage that harnesses the health benefits of curcumin, the bio-active ingredient in turmeric. A variety of studies have found that curcumin is key to fighting inflammation at the molecular level, making it a key focus for treating a variety of forms of arthritis and generalized pain. Studies have also posited that it might hold the key to a variety of health conditions including inflammation, mental health and digestive and cardiovascular health.

Where should you start?

Experimentation is the best approach. Try Mango Lychee with rum or Pomegranate Cranberry mixed with vodka. There might even be a place for a bit of gin in your next Lemon Ginger Zyn.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.