The Drink: Black Magic
Price: $9.25 for 16 ounces
Where to Get It: Jrink Juicery, multiple locations; jrinkjuicery.com
What It Is: A blend of activated charcoal, aloe vera water, and cold-pressed green grape and lemon juices that is said to detoxify, serve as a digestive aid, and provide a hangover cure. Charcoal becomes “activated” when exposure to a gas expands its surface area, which increases its ability to be absorbed. Medically, it’s used for treating patients suffering from severe poisoning.
What It Tastes Like: A very refreshing and enjoyable lemonade with a faint grape Kool-Aid flavor—although it does start to taste a bit more, shall we say, charcoaly toward the bottom.
The Story: Co-owners Shizu Okusa and Jennifer Ngai introduced the murky juice on May 4. The 100 or so bottles they make fresh each day sell out early enough that fans call and reserve ahead. Okusa says her customers are taking activated charcoal in other forms like capsules, anyway, so why not give the people what they want? Jrink is currently the only juice bar in the area using the ingredient. “People were saying they wanted a drink with the activated charcoal,” Okusa says. “We’re not afraid to take a bit of a risk, to be nimble and responsive to customers.”
The Counterpoint: Registered dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield, who founded Capitol Nutrition Group, seems incredulous that anyone would drink it. “You aren’t expecting me to support it, are you?” she writes in an email. “The only magic is your money disappearing when you buy this. Your body naturally detoxifies—liver and kidneys need water and healthy food to do their job. I suggest you avoid needing a ‘hangover cure’ in the first place.” (That might sound judgy, but her email did include a smiley face after that last bit.)
While Jrink states on its website’s FAQ page that they are not doctors and are not giving medical advice, Okusa says they do work with their own dietitian. Plus, Okusa says she has felt the positive effects, and the juice’s popularity suggests she’s not alone. “For me, it’s worked magic.”