Two Kids and a Coupon received free product for purposes of this book review and all opinions and cocktail preferences are completely our own.

Who doesn’t like a good cocktail to unwind at the end of a long hard day or to chill and mingle with family and friends? But believe it or not — cocktails are not only relaxing and energizing — but can also offer many restorative health benefits as well. Apothecary cocktails used from ancient times to the turn of the twentieth century, helped cure the common cold, ease pain, aide in digestion and calm your nerves.

Before modern medicine, people in Europe and America, relied on pharmacists or apothecaries to prescribe, create and administer healing potions to patients made with tinctures, bitters, and herbal remedies mixed with alcohol. Now, trendy clubs and urban bars such as the Apotheke in New York City serve up apothecary cocktails to customers, and there’s even a resurgence of people wanting to create their own healing cocktails at home.

APOTHECARY COCKTAILS: RESTORATIVE DRINKS from YESTERDAY and TODAY, by author Warren Bobrow, explains the history of apothecaries, its use in contemporary drinks and offers 75 traditional and newly created recipes to mix up your own apothecary cocktails at home so you can enjoy their curative and healing benefits.

Having lived with rheumatoid arthritis most of my life (since I was 18 months old) and recently being diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia, a rare blood disorder affecting the bone marrow where it doesn’t produce enough red and white blood cells (blood cells which help fight infections) and platelets, I’m especially interested in the healing benefits of apothecary cocktails to ease my arthritic pain and help boost my immune system.

Some highlights of the book and cocktail recipes include:

  • Digestives and other curatives can alleviate nausea and stomach pain by mixing herbal tinctures and tonics with alcohol. Plus, fresh vegetables such as rhubarb and fennel help with stomach ailments. Try out a rhubarb slushy (rhubarb tea liqueur, crushed ice, rose-infused simple syrup and Thai bitters); and Fernet Branca and Cola, an Italian-inspired digestive (sugar-cane cola, ice and lime) to help soothe your stomach.


  • Winter warmers can take off that bone-chilling cold and boost your immune system to keep you going strong all winter long. Try Mountain Body Warmer (hot herbal tea such as peppermint or spearmint with peppermint schnapps, apricot schnapps, wildflower honey and fresh lemon juice) a German concentrate of distilled spirits of schnapps for instant inner body warmth or to provide relief for cold and coughs. Or hot toddies of the past such as Hot Buttered Rum (hot black tea, rum, dark brown sugar, butter and fresh grated nutmeg) which were used by ship doctors to relieve aching bones and lift sailors’ spirits during the long winter months.


  • Hot weather refreshers help cool the body from the inside out. Alcoholic drinks with tonics, flips, fizzes and punches combined with fresh herbs, spices, citrus fruits and fresh garden veggies are powerful healers and rich in antioxidants. Who can resist a cool, refreshing Bloody Mary such as The Roasted Tomato and Chili Bloody Mary (vodka, roasted tomato purée, lemon juice, a hot chili sauce such as Vietnamese sriracha, ice cubes and celery salt). How about a classic Rum Punch for a Crowd (bottle of rum, bottle of overproof 160-190 proof rum, freshly squeezed citrus juice such as orange, grapefruit lemon or lime, club soda and Angostura bitters and ice cubes) to relax your guests, cool them off and quench their thirst?


  • Restoratives of herbs, spices and citrus fruit can help perk up the body after a late night or heavy meal. Pharmacists used to prescribe tonics of gin, white rum and vodka or homemade bitters for the hangover cure. Who knew basil — not only good for pasta — was used to treat malaria, subdue sunburns, anxiety, stress and an aching stomach. Try a Tai Basil Fizz (basil, botanical gin, absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters, ginger beer and fresh lemon zest) to make you feel better. Or looking for something to not only relieve your headache, but also ease lower back pain, muscle cramps and even fibromyalgia, then The Deep Healer (tomato purée, onion purée, hot chile paste, spinach, kale or another dark leafy green and vodka) is just what you need.


  • Relaxants and toddies ease the mind and spirit and calms you so you can overcome a sleepless night. A Rum Toddy (dark rum, hot black tea, lemon juice, healing bitters and honey) is the perfect fix to get you some much-needed sleep. And, if you suffer from severe insomnia, the Sake Racer (warm sake, warm plum wine, botanical gin, healing herbs such as ginseng, hops, caffeine green tea or passion flower) is just for you. Sake has a higher content of alcohol than table wine but is gentler on the stomach and is packed with amino acids.


  • Painkilling libations help to cure your pounding headache, soothe your aching body and lessen arthritic pain. The Hartley Dodge Cocktail (fresh peach slices, bonded 100-proof bourbon whiskey, sweet vermouth, Fee Brothers Whiskey and ice cubes) similar to a classic Manhattan but muddled with fresh peaches, it takes away aches and pains. While the Blackberry Elixir (egg white, lime juice, berry infused vodka, botanical gin and ice) not only is full of antioxidants that help prevent heart disease, but relieves rheumatism and pain from traumatic injuries.


  • Mood enhancers can help lift your spirits, calm your nerves and even liven up your libido. The Chartreuse Curative (herbal liquor Chartreuse VEP, dry vermouth, egg white, saffron seeds and ice) is a great antidepressant, antioxidant, digestive aide and anti-convulsion restorative. Saffron has been used for ages in Asian and Mediterranean cooking and a little bit goes a long way. For a quick mood enhancer, drinks with ginger such as Doctor Livesey’s Cocktail (dark rum, non-alcholic ginger beer, lime wedge and ice) will have you feeling fine in no time.

Warren Bobrow has his own popular blog, The Cocktail Whisperer, has published over three hundred articles on food, wine, and cocktail mixology and he writes for the Williams-Sonoma blog, Foodista.com, Voda Magazine, Saveur, Serious Eats, The Beverage Journal, Beverage News, and Edible New Jersey. Warren has taught social media and food writing at the New School in New York as well as the Institute for Culinary Education. He is a Ministry of Rum judge and was the only journalist from the USA asked to participate in Fete de la Gastronomie 2012 in Paris.

APOTHECARY COCKTAILS: RESTORATIVE DRINKS from YESTERDAY and TODAY released in October 2013 by Fair Winds Press is available for $13.90 (37% off) regular price of $21.99 US / $23.99 CAN on www.amazon.com. It’s the perfect holiday gift for the cocktail connoisseur on your list or even for yourself. For more information,visit www.cocktailwhisperer.com.




  1. Julie Wood says:

    Using alcohol to help with ailments? I am unsure about that. I do not like alcohol and do not drink it. But these recipes I find interesting, but did not know if I use alcohol with them it is supposed to help me. I do not think that I would try any of these recipes or ideas for helping me with my health. Some people probably have been helped with it, but I choose to eat a healthy diet and stay away from bad things.

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