Ingredient Trending: Activated Charcoals Fire Up District Menus

By Arielle Weg

Charcoal grills are a perfect way to cook up succulent steaks and juicy burgers, but would you ever consider adding the black powdery stuff to your food? With a slew of health benefits and a wicked color, more eateries around the District are getting behind this food trend and sprinkling activated charcoal powder over their dishes and drinks.

The Japanese-inspired restaurant Himitsu serves up The Black Out cocktail, balancing sweet, spice, sour and herbaceous agave-based booziness, says Carlie Steiner, owner and beverage director at Himitsu. The cocktail shakes up tequila, jalapeño, honey, pineapple and activated charcoal, strained over ice into a coupe glass. (Note: The Black Out just rotated off the cocktail list, but ask for it and you’ll get a chance to try it!)

The Black Out cocktail at Himitsu.

The Black Out cocktail at Himitsu.

“The thought of curating a black cocktail and expecting harsh, dark flavors but then tasting that cocktail and recognizing the light, refreshing flavors and aromas was just fun and it gave our guests a bit more of an interactive experience,” says Steiner.

And she’s absolutely right. The cocktail uses only an eighth of one charcoal capsule, so it’s more for the fun element than flavor.

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JRINK Juice also mixes up a charcoal treat. Their Black Magic juice incorporates activated charcoal, aloe vera, grape, apple and lemon juices into a grape-flavored lemonade. JRINK recommends this dark drink to relieve indigestion, increase energy and purify your insides after a day of eating or drinking not so well. Black Magic uses charcoal so fine that it is virtually tasteless in the drink but, according to the JRINK website, it contributes detoxifying properties like aiding in digestion, getting you over a hangover, lowering your cholesterol, soothing bile flow problems and trapping chemicals.

Can’t get enough of charcoal juice? Downtown DC juice bar Fruitive hopped on the charcoal wagon with their charcoal limeade. It’s made with lime, pineapple, activated charcoal, water and ginger. The bold beverage is described as citrusy and spicy and is also supposed to be great for cleansing. You can also pick up a charcoal lemonade at Greenheart Juice shop (made with lemon, coconut nectar, activated charcoal and bentonite clay) or stop by South Block Juice Co. for a Rehab Juice (coconut water, coconut meat, Madagascar vanilla and activated charcoal) or an Activate Juice (apple, aloe, lemon and activated charcoal) to help cure your hangover and prevent toxins from being absorbed.

Charcoal is more than just an addition to sippable concoctions. Try Bidwell’s charcoal pizza dough, described as a natural purifier with the ability to aid in digestion, or Capitol Kettle Corn’s acai and charcoal powder popcorn. What better way to celebrate the season of barbecues and beers than with fun charcoal-inspired sips and snacks?