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Adaptogens and Botanical Infusions are Showing Up in Drinks. What Do They Do?


When Morgan McLachlan became a parent, she found herself reevaluating what she drank.

“I’m really interested in celebratory beverages,” says McLachlan, a Los Angeles filmmaker-turned-distiller, but “it doesn’t have to be alcohol, it can be adaptogens, it can be cannabis. A lot of people are starting to explore other ways to relax or connect.”

This led her to include adaptogens, certain herbs and mushrooms that some say help the body respond to stress, in DeSoi, the line of non-alcoholic sparkling drinks she co-created with singer Katy Perry. Its Purple Lune mixes tart cherry with ashwagandha. Holy basil, another adaptogen, appears in McLachlan’s fruity Amass hard seltzers, and reishi mushroom is utilized in her Amass gin.

McLachlan is not alone. A range of zero-proof beverages now feature the sort of herbs and botanicals once primarily found in health food stores. They target many of the same consumers who shop for organic groceries, buy herbal supplements and drink natural wine.

“We’re looking at the earth for ingredients and there’s an emphasis on better-for-you products,”  says Sol Broady, founder of Leilo, a line of soft drinks that feature L-theanine, an amino acid in green tea, and kava, a South Pacific root used in spiritual ceremonies and for relaxation. 

After trying kava on a family vacation to Fiji, Broady wanted to bring a piece of the island’s culture home. “The relaxed, calm, community, friendship…all those qualities are conspicuously missing in the caffeinated, overdrive American culture,” he says. Dubbed “calm in a can,” Leilo is a brisk seller at spas and airports where people want to relax before a flight, says Broady. Next, he plans to launch Leilo Luna, a bedtime kava with added melatonin. 

“People have pill fatigue, so this is an alternative delivery method.” —Dr. Crystal Gossard, DCN

In a stressful world, everyone’s looking for new ways to relax, says Dr. Crystal Gossard, DCN, a doctor of clinical nutrition based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

“I think it’s amazing because now you’re using the power of nature to help you to relax,” says Gossard. “People have pill fatigue, so this is an alternative delivery method.”