All of a sudden, the $4 bottles of “drinking vinegar” were everywhere. An entire beverage case at my local Whole Foods is dedicated to them—separate from the kombucha case. I like the funky sour taste of apple cider vinegar, the way it turns water a cloudy taupe color like a bucket of runoff after a rainstorm and/or a $4 fountain of youth. I felt I had to try them…ALL.
There have been no major studies proving the benefits of ACV definitively (there have been some studies which you can dive into here), especially the low-key reason they’re so popular—as an alleged appetite suppressant and weight-loss aid. Dr. Aaron Carroll, whose book The Bad Food Bible changed the way I eat and look at food (sounds hyperbolic but I’m serious, the book is amazing), couldn’t on medical grounds endorse it as a health tonic, either.
However—and this is a big part of Carroll’s book and food philosophy—if you like the way it tastes, go for it. Drinking watered-down ACV isn’t going to harm you, “but you should be under no illusion that there are massive improvement benefits,” Carroll said.
So, with that in mind, over the course of two months, I tried as many drinking vinegars (or “vinegar tonics”) as I could get my hands on. They live in a slightly more amorphous world than shrubs, which typically have sugar and infused fruit juice that gives a stronger fruit-forward flavor. The loose branding means “drinking vinegar” can be whatever-they-want in that bottle (apple juice concentrate is popular, so is stevia). I learned very quickly that dilution is necessary. A straight shot—and many are brilliantly sold as “shots” with an added halo of miracle cure—made my esophagus burn, and I could feel my teeth enamel and stomach lining erasing like the family photograph in Back to the Future.
The following taste test is a ranking of just that: How well these companies balance tart, sweet, savory, and sour. What drink straight-up tastes good? Other than some gastrointestinal …issues when I overdid it, I noticed no changes in my health, skin, ability to deter a cold, weight, or energy. Proceed at your own caution, friends.
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