It’s muggy and it’s swimsuit season. What could be healthier and more refreshing than vitamin-packed juice? Fortunately, an abundance of juice bars have sprung up throughout the city — with more on the way from notables like Puritan & Company chef Will Gilson, who will open Kendall Square’s Beatnik Beverage Company with his dad in the coming weeks.
Each offers a convenient way to get healthy in a hurry.
“The goal of juicing is to take a large amount of produce, more than you would have time to consume at a sitting, and remove the fiber, leaving behind nutrient-dense, vitamin- and enzyme-rich juice,” says Heather Costa, who runs the Back Bay’s Revolution Juice.
In the interest of research, I sampled six popular bars. Whenever possible, I solicited a staffer’s beverage recommendation. Some drinks were cold-pressed, bottled, and stored in coolers; others were juiced to order.
Before embarking on your own juice journey, take heed: Most juice bars do not have seats, so prepare to flee upon purchase. Also, juice is spendy. Most come in 12- or 16-ounce portions and cost $8 and up. Finally, drink your beverage immediately. Do not, ahem, leave it in your car on a warm day. (I learned this the hard way.)
I begin my adventure at Kendall Square’s Mother Juice, a quirky oasis where servers greet customers like pals and Marvin Gaye oohs on the speakers. There are produce crates stacked in corners, a set of movie-theater-style seats propped against one wall, and plenty of reading material. (Alight on a peppermint-hued chair and leaf through Yoga magazine while waiting.) For an empty stomach, a cheery server recommends the organic Nutty Greens smoothie, a thick blend of kale, mango, blueberry, almond butter, almond milk, and agave. I’m unsure about liquid kale for breakfast, but it’s sweet and not overly vegetal. Better still, it’s filling. There are also cold-pressed juices in frisky flavors like Unicorn Blood (made with beets) and Kale Yea (no explanation needed). 625 W. Kendall St., Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-286-6580, www.motherjuiceboston.com
Next stop is Thirst Juice Co., a narrow storefront in Downtown Crossing whose lime green sign shines like a beacon of hope amid the gray concrete. It’s all business here: no tables, a concise menu of smoothies and juices, to-go meals like peanut noodles and oats, and helpful chit-chat from staff. (One woman breezily advises that my dress has come unzipped. That smoothie was filling!) I’m encouraged to try the Green Dream, a made-to-order combo of kale, cucumber, pineapple, and spicy jalapeno, slurped through a straw. It arrives promptly but at room temperature. On a humid day, it becomes lukewarm fast. Still, based on speed and location, Thirst is quenching. 44 School St., Downtown Crossing, Boston, 857-233-4535, www.thirstjuiceco.com
Cocobeet is a few blocks away at City Hall Plaza. The motto is “Reroot Your Life,” and here, such things seem possible: This liquid produce emporium just might be the Apple store of juice bars. Techno bops in the background, employees greet guests with kinetic grins, and the room is bright enough to make anyone crave a facial. Absent that, try a drink. Cold-pressed juices stand tantalizingly in a spic-and-span cooler that would be right at home at Sephora, promising things like an Apricot High or a Happy Day. The Happy Day is lusciously spa-like, a smooth, cleansing blend of pineapple, apple, cucumber, and mint. Lest you wonder why Cocobeet doesn’t sell made-to-order juice, a chalkboard offers a reminder: “We are organic! Raw! Cold-pressed! And have five times more nutrients than made-to-order juices.” 100 City Hall Plaza, Boston, 857-263-8598, www.cocobeet.com
Indeed, a healthy marketing sense seems to be essential at these bars. Next up is Revolution Juice, where a sign announces that “if it’s not organic, it’s toxic for you and the planet. We are 100% organic.” Still not sold? Another board notes that Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Abraham Lincoln were vegetarians. Despite possible juice evangelism, service is incredibly approachable. I’m urged to try an Easy Green, a made-to-order blend of kale, spinach, cucumber, apple, pineapple, and lemon. It’s a gentler foray into the juicing world; other ingredient options include dandelion and parsley, potentially intimidating for the novice sipper. The juice arrives cold and is thoroughly slurp-worthy. (The thought of sucking liquid spinach through a straw unnerved me, but the pineapple and lemon neutralize things.) While waiting, perch on a window-front stool and listen to proprietor Costa chat with customers over the whir of blenders, or ogle the shelves of plump pineapples behind the counter. 150 Huntington Ave., Back Bay, Boston, 857-233-4313, www.revolutionjuice.com
Then it’s on to Liquiteria, Harvard Square’s newest juice bar. This chain launched in New York City in 1996, long before the dawn of juice mania. Its website invites me to “flood my body with pure nourishment,” which sounds efficient. The cold-pressed, bottled Grasshopper — which blends apple, pineapple, wheatgrass, and mint — has an earthy jolt thanks to the grass. Liquiteria also gets points for its many to-go options (salads, baked goods, acai bowls) and for servers who remain patient as saints no matter how many teenagers wander in and loiter by the cash register, gazing awestruck at the menu. Grab your drink to go (no seats here) and picnic in Harvard Yard. 1440 Massachusetts Ave., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-588-9955, www.liquiteria.com
Finally, I’m eager to eat. Pure Cold Press to the rescue! The Brookline sit-down shop is owned by Haim Cohen, whose family runs kosher restaurant Rami’s next door. Pure Cold Press has soups, salads, and sandwiches, served Zen-cafeteria-style. Grab a tray, get in line, ask for a scoop of eggplant caponata or Sicilian cauliflower, and then nab a cold-pressed juice from the cooler. Helpfully, each bottle lists ingredients by the ounce, revealing exactly how much spinach or collard greens you’re sucking down. The Pure Green, a mixture of apples, collard greens, spinach, pineapple, lemon, and ginger, tastes like a spicy, liquid garden. “I hope you love it!” coos a server with long, lovely braids. I do. 326 Harvard St., Coolidge Corner, Brookline, 617-487-8948, www.purecoldpress.comKara Baskin can be reached at email@example.com.