Berry Good

Açaí berry-infused cocktails are one of the hottest trends in summer libations

Move over pomegranate: There’s a new healthy, exotic fruit that everybody’s talking about.

The açaí (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) berry trend has been sweeping the nation ever since it was touted for its health benefits on The Oprah Show, and now it’s showing up behind the bar in restaurants, pubs, and lounges around the Valley.

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So what’s the big deal with this popular little berry? Studies are still ongoing as to how healthy it actually is, but research has shown that the small fruit does contain a high level of the antioxidants known as flavonoids and anthocyanins — the latter being the substance that gives the fruit its bold hue (usually a dark red to dark purple color). These powerful substances help defend the body against harmful toxins known as free radicals, and they are believed to have the potential to ward off certain heart problems and cancers. The berry is harvested from palm trees in Central and South America; its antioxidant levels are comparable to those found in blueberries, cranberries, and other dark purple fruits. Flavor-wise, it tends not to be as sweet as most berries, but it has a hint of tartness that tastes great when mixed with other sweet fruits and flavors.

Several companies are marketing açaí as a weight-loss and beauty remedy. The jury is still out, however, on the truth behind those claims. One thing we do know for sure: The juice from this tasty drupe makes for one refreshing summer cocktail.

We caught up with Sally Rich, general manager and cocktail designer at the Zagat-rated Twist restaurant in Hyde Park, to find out what açaí-flavored concoctions she suggests for this summer. Each is a chilled blend of bold flavors and lively colors, topped off with a festive seasonal garnish. Attempt one on your own if you’d like, or stop in to Twist to cool off with one of these sensational summer spirits.

Open Tues.-Thurs. 5-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 5-10 p.m.
4290 Albany Post Rd. (Rte. 9), Hyde Park
845-229-7094 or

acai berryPhotographs by Michael Polito

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