According to legend, Cleopatra and Mark Antony’s love affair, one of the most combustible of all time, was fueled by Cleopatra’s love for saffron-laced wines and potions. So much so that in the winter of 41–40 B.C.E. they created a drinking society called the Inimitable Livers (true story) while they drank and cavorted and bounced off the walls inside Cleopatra’s palace in Alexandria. While none of us are cavorting like Cleopatra these days, as a man who was once very much about town before the pandemic, I know a thing or two about staying energized. Even as my social life has been reduced to power walks around Washington Square Park, I often still need something to kick-start — then sometimes jump-start — my days. Lately, my favorite way of doing that is with a so-called elixir made with the very same ingredient that powered Cleopatra’s sex parties.
The benefits of tonics and potions can admittedly be hard to quantify, but whenever I quaff a bottle of Safforia in the morning, my emotional well-being and mental aura seem to improve. The all-natural (and vegan and gluten-free) concoction is swimming in polyphenol — a most potent antioxidant — and contains saffron sourced from the Andalusian mountain region of Spain that the brand’s founder, Yass Grayeli, imports to her production facility in New Jersey. “They call it red gold because it is worth more than gold by weight,” Grayeli explains of the spice and why it makes her drink more expensive. “It takes an estimated 40 hours of labor and 150,000 crushed saffron pistils to create a kilo of the stuff.”
As centuries of its use suggests, saffron has long been regarded as a natural euphoric that can promote serotonin, the body’s main mood-stabilizing hormone. My time drinking Safforia, I’d say, has anecdotally proved this to be true. It’s what I now reach for when I need a mood lift or to feel rejuvenated and meta-human à la Deepak Chopra. The drink is available in two flavors: Bliss Royale, a mix of lemonade and saffron, and my favorite Gold Rush, a mix of passion fruit, saffron, and ginger. Not only are the fancy glass bottles it comes in nicer looking than the plastic ones and tin cans other tonics are packaged in, but their amber color, according to Grayeli, “protects saffron’s photosensitivity and enhance the biochemicals, minerals, and vitamins that make it so potent.” And for those who need even more of a pick-me-up, I’ll leave you with this tip: The stuff pairs so well with tequila.
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