No longer reserved for LA’s fitness-focused elite, juicing has well and truly landed in London – beating the long-reigning latte as our must-be-seen-with beverage.
Although this American import may sound fad-tastic, it seems to be one for keeps, as enthusiastic owner Marco Proietti of Juice Tonic in Soho tells me, ‘it is a trend and it will peak at some point, and then little by little it will become lifestyle.’
Selling cleansing programmes, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, coffees and healthy snacks, Juice Tonic on Winnett Street is fresh, fun and informative, and Italian Marco is genuinely lovely and hugely knowledgeable. Having lived in New York and LA for 14 years, he is definitely a cleanse convert (he can go up to 21 days on just juice) who wants to spread his healthy message to the people of Soho and beyond.
‘People are skeptical at first, I was, but the best way to get people on juices is for them to try it – nothing tastes as good as feeling great.’ After a long day of stomping around the city, we tried some of their “pharmacy” shots, small and unapologetic concoctions designed to quickly kick you into action. The Dragon’s Breath with ginger, turmeric, lemon, cayenne and coconut sugar is crazily zingy and spicy – slightly painful, but certainly awakening, it’s plenty of fun to drink.
If Juice Tonic is bright and medicinal, then Roots and Bulbs in Marylebone marries quality with style. In a minimalist-chic, almost clinical setting, they serve their pre-bottled cold-pressed juices (greens and carrot), smoothies, organic coffee and coconut water.
Cold-pressed seems to be a theme throughout our search – and the difference is in the name. Cold-pressed juices are made slowly and in small batches, as opposed to with a hot blade that can juice quickly on the spot and grinds the pulp – resulting in a less nutritional end product.
Roots and Bulbs’s most popular cold-pressed juice is the rather scientifically named G1, made with cucumber, celery, spinach, lemon, ginger and spice. An unexpected customer favourite, as it’s their only green juice that does not contain any fruit – it is light and uplifting, but with a startling kick from the ginger – I think we are on to another theme.
But Lovage – the pet project of the hipster-glam Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, is the one with heart. Making their home in a tiny kitchen with their juicing, and other, knick knacks hanging from the ceiling, and serving through an even tinier window onto the street – it is a surprisingly humble affair.
Lovage manager Sam at the Ace Hotel serving some unusual Coral juice, made with cauliflower
With their cool, casual passion, Lovage convinces me that juicing is here to stay. Describing themselves as ‘a seasonal farm-to-street kitchen rooted in the body’s self-healing nature and the belief that food is powerful’, unlike Juice Tonic or Roots and Bulbs, Lovage does not offer any sort of cleanse program but have ‘just a few tips we try to live by and share.’
Their menu goes wherever the seasons take them, so; soon it will be summer-berry slushies all over Shoreditch High Street. But, for the moment, we try an earthy, sweet and refreshing green cold-pressed juice, Viridian, with kale, fennel, squash, apple, herbs and wild greens and Ruby, with beetroot, apple, cabbage and carrot – a sweet and punchy livener.
The most unexpected is another one of their juices, Coral, made with red pepper, apple, carrot and cauliflower. We are told cauliflower juice on its own is almost undrinkable – but in a concoction like this that would otherwise be too sweet, it balances it out. We probably won’t be seeing cauliflower-juice varieties in Prêt anytime soon, but my palate is intrigued.
Cold pressing is definitely the buzzword and process of the moment, and, ingredients-wise, spices and fresh herbs are up there too. Although the methods of using juices to detox or as a healthy supplement are constantly up for debate – in a new world where processed foods and added sugars are the enemy, the revitalizing power and natural medicinal qualities of raw fruits and vegetables are what will keep us coming back.