“The Healthiest Happy Hour!”
These are all phrases taken verbatim from email blasts I’ve received within the last few weeks, and none of them are sitting well with me. (To be clear, the following is an opinion.) Although I believe that cocktails, consumed in moderation, can be part of a healthy lifestyle, under no circumstances should alcoholic beverages be promoted as “healthy.”
That goes for “healthier” and “healthiest,” too.
Consider, for example, the wheatgrass margarita touted by a Cabo San Lucas resort as a welcome amenity for its “wellness suites.” Along with an artisanal soap selection, gluten-free snacks and in-suite workout equipment, guests also received a “kit” to make the cocktail: Tequila, triple sec, lemon, “agave honey” and a shot of wheatgrass powder dissolved in water. “The wheatgrass margarita kit was a surprise delight on arrival and a healthier option to try,” stated the release.
I don’t care if there’s one shot of wheatgrass juice or 20 in there. If it contains an ounce-and-a-half of Tequila, as this margarita recipe did, it’s not a “wellness” tool.
Sure, go ahead and relax with one after sunset yoga on the beach. But don’t try and sell it as “healthier.”
If you think it’s delicious to mix your Tequila with cold-pressed green juice, by all means, go for it. Just don’t try to sell it as a wellness elixir.
Why am I getting bent out of shape over this “wellness” rhetoric? Because it’s confusing to consumers, and at worst, it’s downright dangerous. Repeat (or retweet) a specious statement often enough, and some people will believe it.
Calling cocktails “healthy” amounts to willful deceit, not to mention it’s irresponsible and lazy. Much of it seems to stem from the multitude of studies and articles that proclaim young adults, particularly Millennials and the Gen Z group now coming of drinking age, value wellness and healthy living. They take CrossFit classes, shop organic and use meditation apps.
And, most shocking of all, many are drinking less. Based on the demographics I see at bars, they haven’t stopped altogether by a long shot. Some people enjoy higher-quality drinks in smaller amounts. Others have turned to drinks with low or no alcohol, and the month-long abstinence of “Dry January” has expanded beyond the bar industry and into mainstream culture.
If someone isn’t drinking alcohol, for whatever reason, I want to be supportive of that. But that’s not what the so-called “healthy margarita” is about.
Jumping on the “wellness” train is a transparent and desperate attempt by marketers to align with what’s perceived as Millennial values. But a cocktail isn’t where anyone should be going to find a magic fountain of health.
And frankly, that’s not the role of a cocktail anyway. People enjoy alcoholic beverages for a wide range of reasons: to relax, to celebrate, to take the edge off after a long day. If you think it’s delicious to mix your Tequila with cold-pressed green juice, by all means, go for it. Just don’t try to sell it as a wellness elixir.