Liquid Evolution

Art © Lilli Carré.

Humorist Henry Alford looks at the juice bar’s transformation from hippie to foodie, earthy to glam.

When I was growing up in the 1970s, juice bars were places to encounter massive amounts of frizzy hair and unregulated body odor. You ordered a wheatgrass shot or a beet juice because it came from the earth, man.

But a thirst for squished fruits and vegetables is no longer merely the logical outcome of possessing both a pair of high-top sneakers and a graduate degree from Berkeley. The juice bar of today is a sleek, highly stylized place full of well-groomed and nice-smelling people, where cooking pros like Giada De Laurentiis and Jean-Georges Vongerichten hang out with celebrities like Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow. Some of these people love fresh juices for the resounding thwack of energy they get from drinking fresh, local, organic ingredients that have been whipped within an inch of their lives; others love the comfort and ease of a delicious, virtuous, easily wrangled meal-in-a-cup.

Juice-bar prices give me sticker shock: I recently bought two drinks at a place in Los Angeles that set me back almost $20—and for $20, I want little paper umbrellas. But once I get past the price, I find these drinks deeply happy-making. A dessert you can drink meets Mother Nature’s Ensure.

Henry Alford is the author of Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That: A Modern Guide to Manners.

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