I gave up coffee a few years ago (I don’t wanna talk about it) (it was necessary, but I miss it so much). It’s not an original story: For all of coffee’s history, there have been people who coffee turns into swamp creatures, and those people have sought alternatives, mostly coming up short. I am one such gal. So I set out to find other bevs to fill the void.
The truth is little can do what coffee can. For instance: excel when served either hot or cold. Brighten a quiet moment at home or fuel a morning of meetings. Feel healing, like now that you’ve had a sip, you are equipped to take on the day. Don’t tell me tea can do this. I drink a lot of tea, I love tea, it does not have this power for me. The only thing that’s come close—even without the caffeine—is my Spicy Lemon-Ginger Tonic.
Lemon, ginger, and honey are known as feel-better ingredients, the likes of which I’ve been told to add to hot water one trillion times to ease an upset stomach, clear stuffy sinuses, soothe a sore throat, or generally perk me up. Combined, they form an unstoppable team. To make my go-to tonic, I slowly simmer this trio of pantry staples—plus an added pinch of cayenne pepper—together for about half an hour to distill their flavors. The result is a punchy concentrate I can keep in my fridge and dilute with water for a strong but sippable drink. I deploy it in many of the same ways I might a shot of espresso, without any of the coffee crash.
On chilly mornings when I need a rousing pick-me-up, or any time of day when I feel a cold coming on, I’ll add a few tablespoons of tonic to a mug of hot water. The steamy, bright, and spicy drink is instantly energizing and head-clearing, like a jolt of straight sunshine. But I turn to the concentrate just as often on busy afternoons when I need a 3 p.m. work break, or hot summer days when I want to pack a fun drink for the park. Spilled over a tall glass of sparkling water and ice, it becomes my dream seltzer flavor, with just enough sweetness and heat to keep things interesting.
Maybe my lemon ginger tonic doesn’t heal me the way I used to think a big iced americano could. But I think that’s a good thing. I’m no longer in the market for something quite that high octane. With a jar of this flavorful stuff in my fridge, I know I can take on whatever the day throws at me—and I won’t turn into a swamp creature along the way.
Leave a Reply