Iris Launches a Health-Conscious Cocktail Menu

00:00 March 26, 2012
By: Kristal Blue
[Where Y'At Staff/Provided Photo]

When I tended bar, I saw people in pain - headaches and bashed egos, mostly—but nobody expected me to fix them. By then, the era of bartender as healer - during Prohibition, when bartenders took jobs at pharmacy soda fountains - was long gone.

Today's craft cocktail movement, with its housemade tinctures and potted herbs, has revived the concept. Sharon Floyd, the bartender at Iris, takes it even further with "Bartanica", a website she's created (thanks to a 2011 Tales of the Cocktail scholarship) that showcases cocktail-friendly herbs and spices, and their healing properties.

"I wanted to return bartending to being more of a guide to a healthful state," said Sharon. "Bartanica" reflects Ayurvedic philosophy, promoting plant-based cures and holistic balance (bartenders strive for balance in their drinks, even if it doesn't come so readily on the job).

Though Iris already has a reputation for gorgeous-fresh cuisine and drinks, Sharon's new cocktail menu -based on "Bartanica" - more consciously addresses good health. The six-drink menu is stocked with ginger liqueur, rosemary, muddled cardamom and rose hip liqueur, rich in vitamin C. Combinations are key, too—cardamom and rose together, for example, are supposed to help with circulation.

The most ambitious drink of the bunch is Sharon's "Garden District," an herbaceous tonic based on fennel liqueur; hints of sweet licorice beautifully open up its companion gin. Paired with softly bitter Cocchi Americano, slushy ice and grassy fennel feathers, this is a fresh, soothing and satisfying drink, supporting fennel's claim to help digestion and regulate your appetite.

While we all get healthier, what about the bartenders who spend hours standing, lifting heavy boxes and shaking vigorously? For them, Sharon is teaching a low-cost yoga class (fittingly, at the Museum of the American Cocktail). "I wanted to reconcile a life of yoga and bartending," said Sharon. "I got there through practice, and a little grace."

Garden District
Written by Sharon Floyd, courtesy of Iris

  • 1 ounce Plymouth Gin
  • 0.5 ounce housemade fennel syrup*
  • 0.5 ounce Cocchi Americano
  • 0.25 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 0.25 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • Combine ingredients in a shaker, and strain into a glass over crushed ice. Add fennel feathers.
  • Serves 1

*Juice enough fennel stems and feathers to make 1/2 cup juice (Sharon uses an auger juicer, good for tackling fibrous foods). Add fennel juice, a pinch of fennel seeds, 1 1/2 cups water and 2 cups sugar to a saucepot. Stir, bring to a boil and then let simmer until reduced.

Iris, 321 N. Peters Street, 299-3944; "Bartanica" is in its early stages, but check back often - Sharon will eventually dissect the botanicals in different spirits and liqueurs. Follow her at

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