The Awakening of an Elixir Goddess

The Awakening of an Elixir Goddess

Discovering ancient, healthy, alternative highs for an alcohol-soaked society

Illustrations by Salli S Swindell

The sun casts its last golden rays over the desert, illuminating the kind of scene that made me first fall in love with festivals. Hundreds of ecstatic bodies make a sea of multicolored movement, swirling around one another, kicking up dust that embraces them in the fading light. The beat drops, and the crowd seems to experience a kind of collective joy uncommon in the “outside world.” The night is young, and sunrise will see the same endless revelry.

I take a slow, appreciative sip from the warm cup in my hands. It’s the end of my shift at our vegan food truck, and I’m powering up for the next 10 hours of dancing. My potion is a clumsy concoction of every superfood we had lying around: organic cacao, maca, rhodiola, ashwagandha, and ginseng—ingredients that a few years ago would have sounded more like they belonged in a science lab than in my mug.

As I tip the last drops into my mouth, I feel my spirit lift as the potion begins to work its magic. For the rest of the night, I feel ecstatic, alive, and bursting with energy. Powered by herbal rocket fuel, I bounce from stage to stage. Every face I see is a friend, and I am filled with the desire to connect. I am lucid, grounded, and in control, a far cry from the clumsy tequila-drunk me that stumbled through college. I’m still dancing when dawn streaks the sky with pastel pinks, 10 hours later. I feel incredibly high, and it’s all legal—and even nutritious.

That night, I experienced what a true alcohol alternative might feel like—one that avoids the head-pounding guilt of the following day, the rapid system toxification and the inevitable drunken mistakes. I also realized that we could design drinks that actually nourish our bodies, but still make us feel confident, relaxed, and social, the way just the right amount of wine might do. And, the tools to do this are ancient, found in nature, and backed up by thousands of years of medicinal traditions around the globe—from Ayurveda to Traditional Chinese Medicine to Mayan and Aztec culture.

And that night I decided to bring medicinal elixirs to the party scene, to offer a viable alternative to the lukewarm cocktails and wine hangovers I’d grown so used to. This intention was the birth of the Hippy Zippy Elixir Bar: an organic, mobile bar that offers tonic herbs, ancient uppers, and restorative “adaptogens” at events and festivals.

Our menu incorporates some of the most revered plants from global traditions. For ecstatic, joyful energy, we use cacao from Central America, used as a medicine in ceremonies for centuries, and recently adopted as a New Age heart tonic. Our Peruvian maca was once warrior fuel for Aztecs gearing up for battle, and gives strength and stamina for long days and nights. We balance our uppers with herbal adaptogens, using ginseng, eleuthero, and astragalus from Chinese Medicine, as well as ashwagandha and bacopa from Ayurveda. Adaptogens act like an internal thermostat, elevating or calming as needed. For calming concoctions, we use kavakava, a ceremonial root from the South Pacific that relaxes and relieves tension or anxiety. For mood boosting we use mucuna, a bean famous for its L-dopa content, an essential precursor for the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Admittedly, wine and spirits have warmed our hearts from ancient Greece to modern Mykonos. They aren’t bad, just subject to overuse, and our modern social scene provides few alternatives. Bar-hopping sober is often a soda-water mocktail of temptation and disappointment, with no feel-good fix for those wanting to stay dry. That’s where the power of all these other plants comes in.

We can all learn to use these plant potions to deeply affect our physical, mental, and spiritual state; as a social lubricant, to move out of a tough emotional space; or to help us handle stress. We can cure a hangover with the right herbs, or dance all night with Mother Nature’s finest stimulants. The Hippy Zippy Elixir Bar is our small contribution to the kind of future we want to see: where cacao is the coolest party drug, and where bar-hoppers don’t pick their poison, but their potion. Where you can go to a festival, bar, or supermarket and grab a carefully crafted elixir that will nourish your body and mind, and leave you feeling great the next morning. Where university libraries sell brain-boosting noncaffeinated tonics, and medicinal mushrooms and adaptogens are staples in coffee-shop lattes. Essentially, where we will have greater access to more types of plants to be healthier and happier and have more fun.

Maybe we’re on to something. Or maybe we just drank too much cacao.

5 Elements of a Perfect Potion

This is simple magic: just add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high for 1 minute.

1. Base

This is the carrier for your other ingredients, and makes up the bulk of the drink. You can choose a nut milk, favorite tea, or plain hot water. We prefer cashew “mylk” (using presoaked nuts) because it is extremely easy to make. Just add cashews, water, and a pinch of salt. Blend for a minute and sweeten to taste.

2. Flavor

Here you add your spices, plants, and herbs that make your drink delicious. Try classics like cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, and clove, or get experimental with lavender, rose, peppermint, or cayenne.

3. Intention

Ask yourself, What do I need?—and pick the ingredients to suit. Feeling tired? Try maca, cacao, mate, or gynostemma tea or cordyceps. Need emotional support? Try mucuna, tulsi, or rhodiola. Experiment and then sit quietly and notice how your body reacts to different ingredients. Every person is different, so you’ll learn what you need by listening internally and adapting quantities.

4. Sweetener

Sweetening makes bitter herbs palatable, and can accentuate other flavors. Sweeten to taste with your favorite: honey, maple syrup, molasses, coconut sugar, or monk fruit. For diabetics, choose a low-glycemic sweetener like yacon, agave, or stevia.

5. Balancer

This is, essentially, a fat or salt. Salt is an essential flavor component to any of our elixirs, and you’ll notice if it’s missing. Fats are especially important for the absorption of many superfoods, particularly caffeine. Fat modulates its release in your system and helps you stay energized for longer. Choose ghee, coconut oil, MCT oil, or high-fat nuts to give your elixir longer-lasting potency.


Instructions for all drinks: Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high for 1 minute.

For calm focus: Medicinal Matcha Latte

  • 12 oz. hot or cold water
  • 1 teaspoon matcha
  • 1⁄8 cup soaked cashews
  • 1½ tablespoon fresh ginger juice
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon reishi mushroom powder
  • ½ tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon blue-green algae
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • pinch pink Himalayan salt

To comfort and revive: Supercharged Chai

  • 12 oz. hot or cold water
  • ¼ cup cashews
  • ½ tablespoon chai
  • ½ tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon reishi mushroom powder
  • ½ teaspoon cordyceps powder
  • pinch pink Himalayan salt

To ground energy and regulate cortisol: Adaptogenic Coffee

  • 12 oz. organic coffee
  • ½ tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ tablespoon ghee
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ashwagandha
  • ½ teaspoon bacopa
  • ½ teaspoon rhodiola
  • 1 dropper Asian ginseng tincture
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • pinch pink Himalayan salt

For giddy relaxation: Kava Latte

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon kava root powder
  • 1 teaspoon mucuna powder
  • ½ tablespoon ghee
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • pinch pink Himalayan salt


The Hippy Zippy Elixir Bar is run by Hannah Mendoza and Roger Coppola and is based in Santa Barbara, California. They bring their bar to events and festivals on the West Coast. Reach them at [email protected], or through Facebook @Hippy Zippy Elixir Bar.

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