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Healthy holiday cocktails crafted by an organic chemist

Every year, inspired by the winter holidays and bound as if by duty, Dr. Manny Alvarez and I take on a tough task – we drink special holiday cocktails containing various healthy ingredients. The idea is that you can enjoy a bit of alcoholic holiday cheer, while deriving health benefits at the very same time. That’s our story, and we’re sticking to it.

It takes a tough and dedicated team to pull off such an expedition, with FOX News Health producers Paula Rizzo and Jessica Mulvihill scouring the New York area, seeking the finest possible venues, mixologists and recipes.

This year’s holiday festivities took place at the new, stylish Refinery Hotel, a renovated hat factory on West 38th St in New York City. Atop the former factory, sits the airy Refinery Rooftop. It would make a fine setting for a scene in a James Bond movie, with a large and open space, sunlight streaming through high glass atrium windows, and the kind of big wooden support beams typical of old factories.

At the Refinery Bar, we were introduced to Alex Ott, author of the book “Dr. Cocktail,” who has served variously as an organic chemist, bartender, mixologist and cocktail recipe artist. Ott is the inventor of a canned drink called, “Mercy,” which claims to quell hangovers and has also created natural beverages for NASA, to be used during weightless space travel. Tall, relaxed and sporting longish blond hair, the venerable Mr. Ott was our master of cocktail ceremonies for this year’s holiday cocktail extravaganza.

Over the course of our stay at Refinery Bar, Dr. Manny and I soldiered through three very fine cocktail creations, variously guaranteed to bolster our immune systems, relieve any anxiety we might feel, suppress inflammation and get us a wee bit knackered during our shoot.

We started out with a zesty little creation called the Struggle Buggy, whose tequila was enriched with the fragrant spice anise, some honey, the jam-like fruit tamarind and pineapple. According to our chemist-cum-bartender, this oddly named drink fires up important neurotransmitters in the brain, provides a boost of energy, delivers a solid load of beneficial antioxidants and aids digestion.

Next, to quell our anxiety and soothe our nerves, Alex plied us with a loopy cocktail operatically called Fiorello, infused with potent relaxing kava, and the tranquility herb passion flower, with enough Rye Whisky to subdue a hopped-up gorilla. Pomegranate and lime juices perked up the flavor a lot, and after drinking this calming beverage, I had that fluid, relaxed feeling, as though I were pleasantly drifting in the current of a lazy river. Dr. Manny accused me of being a cheap date, insisting that I had a silly grin on my face. Probably so.

The final act in our cocktail sojourn was the Cloche and Dagger. In a base of clementine-flavored vodka, some curry, turmeric, lemon juice and lemon zest all conspired to create the coup de gras, a devilish libation that went down way too smoothly.  With minerals to support digestion, antioxidants to keep us young (or at least temporarily slow aging) and anti-inflammatory agents for happy joints, the Cloche and Dagger played a brilliant finish to our cocktail trifecta.

It’s a tough job drinking herbal holiday cocktails on a crisp winter day, but Dr. Manny and I will stop at nothing to bring you the finest in infotainment. We declared Alex Ott our best-ever mixologist, and fretted a bit about what we would do to top this next year.

After all that consumption, Dr. Manny and I sailed out of the Refinery Hotel with effusive wishes of holiday cheer for all. And that is how I wish to leave you now. Whoever you are, whatever life you are living, I wish you the happiest, healthiest and safest of holidays.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at MedicineHunter.com.