camille vidal

Camille Vidal

Functional cocktails: Industry's next big thing

27 July, 2021

In late 2020 the US Food & Drug Administration sent out a warning letter to Red Moon Herbs in Asheville, North Carolina, after it claimed its adaptogenic products were intended to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose or cure Covid-19.

While curing a global pandemic seems ambitious from these herbal remedies, they are beginning to make an impact in the drinks industry – particularly through cocktail menus.

Adaptogens, nootropics and endorphins are the new buzzwords hitting cocktail menus under the umbrella term of ‘functional drinks’, which are generally non-alcoholic drinks with perceived health benefits. Camille Vidal, founder of La Maison Wellness, a ‘mindful drinking’ agency, and a leading authority in the low/no cocktail sector, believes the pandemic has pushed the non-alcoholic category forwards and brought functional drinks along for the ride.

“I actually think the past 18 months have been really eye-opening for a lot of people during lockdowns because it’s caused them to reevaluate their relationship with alcohol,” says Vidal. “Health and wellbeing became an even bigger part of the conversation and people realised they need to be more mindful and look after themselves, particularly during such stressful times.

“Often when we talk about non-alcoholic drinks people feel like they’re losing something, that’s why I don’t like the phrase ‘mocktails’. Consumers also say they want to have a drink to relax and just generally take the edge o or give them energy on a night out, but there are so many better ingredients that can tick those boxes. 

“Something I’m really excited about is the functional ingredients being used in drinks. CBD is the obvious example because it exploded on to the scene in the US and Europe, but there are so many other ingredients and infusions which are becoming part of the conversation.”


Adaptogens, or adaptogenic substances, are herbs and roots which are said to have a range of health benefits, from treating insomnia and reducing stress to providing extra energy – again, they probably aren’t the cure for Covid-19. However, while they may be new to mixology, they’ve actually been studied throughout history and are nothing new in the vocabulary of the health industry. But like many herbal remedies, their claimed health benefits are not necessarily recognised by all parties and a product in the EU cannot be labelled an ‘adaptogen’ as the European Medicines Agency has previously ruled further clarification and studies are still needed.

Nootropics, on the other hand, are supplements which are said to improve cognitive function. The term was brought to life in the early ’70s to classify molecules which acted selectively towards the brain’s higher-level integrative activity. Unlike adaptogens, nootropics have to meet a series of criteria before they can be legally sold, although false marketing has also riddled the sector over the years.

Cameron Fielding, known as The Cocktail Coach, says on his Smartblend blog: “Cocktails are delicious, fun to make, fun to drink and fun to look at. The issue with them is that they aren’t the most healthy option. Packed with sugar and an array of liqueurs and spirits.

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