Charcoal Cocktails Are the New Black

Serve this buzzed-about cocktail recipe for a refreshing conversation starter.

When you’re trying to make an impact at an event, it often comes down to the smallest details. Introducing chat-worthy design elements, thought-provoking takeaways and innovative cocktails can make all the difference. Enter activated-charcoal cocktails (libations mixed with souped-up charcoal), the buzzed-about drink trend that’s a serious conversation starter.   

Charcoal has been on the wellness scene for a few years now—you can find it in everything from skin care products to cold-press juices—but you may still be wondering the difference between activated charcoal and the stuff you put in your outdoor grill. Here’s a primer: Activated charcoal is regular charcoal that’s been exposed to hot air, which creates tiny holes that increase the surface area. That surface area acts as a glue trap for molecules to latch onto, essentially trapping chemicals that would otherwise remain in the digestive tract or on the skin. “Charcoal has several health benefits that can be applied through drinking it in either tea, water or in a delicious cocktail,” says Marriott’s Beverage Manager, Global Operations, Brian Jaymont. “It settles the stomach and aides in digestion, and it literally cleans and whitens teeth as you drink it! It also promotes skin health and helps with internal detoxification, reducing systems associated with overindulgence—aka the dreaded hangover.” 

Today, chefs and mixologists are getting in on the trend, mixing charcoal into everything from ice creams to beverages. The result: a pitch-black cocktail that stops attendees in their tracks. The best part? Activated charcoal is odorless and virtually flavorless, so “if properly balanced, the charcoal should only impart color,” says Jaymont. “There might be a slight hint of minerality in flavor, but this only adds depth and complexity to the cocktail.” 

Additionally, charcoal is best mixed with juices that are “bright”—think lime, grapefruit or pomegranate, which add vibrancy while not changing the color of the drink—and it goes with essentially any liquor. “We love to surprise people with aged rums or spicy tequilas,” says Jaymont.   

Try this charcoal cocktail recipe the next time you’re looking to inject some black magic into your next event. 

Globe Discovery

  • 3 oz. white blossom tea
  • 1 ½ oz. hibiscus syrup
  • 1 ½ oz. fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz. fresh pomegranate juice
  • 2 basil leaves, plus another for garnish
  • ½ bar spoon hardwood-activated charcoal
  • Grapefruit peel
  • Fresh flower

Combine tea, syrup, juices and two basil leaves in mixing tin. Add ice and shake vigorously to combine. Carefully add ½ bar spoon of activated charcoal and shake vigorously to combine, testing for “grit” to ensure the charcoal has dissolved. Strain into cocktail glass; cocktail should be jet black with a slight purple hue, not gritty. Garnish with a grapefruit swath, cut small holes in the peel and pull the basil and flower stems through to secure.