Growing up on her family’s estate in the Blue Mountains of Southern India, Sunitha Ramaiah was accustomed to a community based on spice-filled meals. “You have spices morning, noon and night in India,” recalled Ramaiah. “And you don’t even think about it, or the benefits you get from them. But here in the US, you don’t really use spices the way we do [at home].”

Manjoor Estate, Ramaiah and her business partner Gabriel Orta’s collection of spice-based beverages, is hoping to change that. The beverages – which are made organically in Long Island City and are available as coconut waters (one is infused with cinnamon and raw coco, another with vanilla), juices (“a really energized” apple, saffron, cumin and ginger concoction, among others), lassis (they’re Greek yogurt based; one popular variety has carrots, mangos, ginger and saffron), and spiced beers – are laced with health-enhancing spices, like turmeric, mustard seeds, and the aforementioned saffron and ginger.

“Spices have more anti-inflammatories, anti-oxidants than most fruits and vegetables,” explained Ramaiah. “There have always been old wives tales about their benefits, but now there’s also scientific research about how so many spices are so essential [in diminishing] dementia, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and arthritis.”

Manjoor Estate creates beautiful, glass-cased beverages, with these benefits in mind. “There are turmeric-based drinks [on the market], but they taste very medicinal and we wanted something very luxurious,” said Ramaiah. “That’s why we say ‘haute spice.’ Just because you’re thinking about your health, you don’t have to give up on taste.”

So, you can drink a jasmine, peach and black pepper lassi and envision yourself sitting poolside at the Leela Palace in Bangalore, shaded beneath the palms.  Or go for the pineapple-based spiced juice, a trip to Lana’i in a bottle. That the drinks may help your health becomes an added, understated benefit. 

~Ashley Simpson