6. Activated Charcoal

In a previous article, we talked about activated charcoal and its usage in bars to make black drinks, and how there’s more to this substance than just its colouring effect.

Activated charcoal can absorb foreign substances inside our system before they are assimilated into our bloodstream. For this reason, in cases of poisoning or drugs overdose, activated charcoal is used on patients to mitigate the effects of the toxins. Unfortunately, this property does not distinguish between beneficial or harmful substances. Just like it can absorb poisons, activated charcoal can absorb medications, also hindering their benefits.

In a 2017 paper, Dr William Copen states that activated charcoal in a drink could “block the body’s absorption of food nutrients, dietary supplements, or medications.”. The amount of activated charcoal used in cocktails recipes – which can vary from a teaspoon to a single 280mg capsule – influences its absorbing effect. Either way, the risk remains “that a guest effectively misses one dose of the medication.”

The chance of activated charcoal affecting a patron’s medical treatment may be not worth a sleek black drink, especially when there are other options to achieve the same hue. In our previous article, we offered some valid alternatives – like squid ink for instance – and Cocktailsafe also recommends trying blackcurrant, ground black sesame seeds and food colouring.