hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires




In Saratoga, juice bars proliferate


Joan K. Lentini photoBy STACEY MORRIS
Contributing writer


From behind her table at the Spa City Farmers Market, Sydney Peyser presides over three moonshine-sized jugs of her just-squeezed juices.

Each is a different color, reflecting the differing ratios of fruits and vegetables. Peyser pours 8- and 16-ounce servings to her regulars, many of whom amble up to the “Clarity Juice By Syd” booth with one of Peyser’s signature mason jars, which feature perforated daisy-patterned lids.
To the hesitant or uninitiated, she offers $1 shots.

“It’s a good way for people to try my juice for the first time,” she explained.

It wasn’t so long ago that there was just one choice for fresh juices in Saratoga Springs. But things have changed.

Not quite a mile due north of Peyser’s booth, business is brisk at Saratoga Juice Bar at 382 Broadway, where customers walk out with colorful bottles of cold-pressed juice combinations with names like Saratoga Detox and Going Green.

A few blocks away, the city’s newest juice bar, All Good Things, opened in May at 30 Lake Ave. in the Pavilion Grand Hotel.

And within sight of that is the city’s longest running source of freshly squeezed juices, Four Seasons Natural Foods, which now has two locations – a new retail store at 120 Henry St. and a café at 33 Phila St.

Finally, just outside the city in the town of Wilton, in the midst Wal-Mart, Target and the other the other corporate commercial operations that line Route 50, there’s another juice bar. It sits at one end of Wilton Mall as part of Healthy Living Market.

As these five separate businesses attest, things have lately gotten a whole lot juicier in Saratoga Springs, and the audience for fresh squeezed and cold-pressed juices shows no signs of waning.
“Sales have increased, but the whole demand for juicing has increased, so there’s much more supply,” explained Richard Frank, the owner of Four Seasons Natural Foods since 1990. “We were the only place in town until a few years ago. But we still feel a little left of center. … I’m not sure everyone’s doing organic juices.”

Healthy Living’s juice bar serves 100 percent organic juices, while Clarity Juice, All Good Things and Saratoga Juice Bar offer a blend of certified organic and certified naturally grown produce in their juices.

“We don’t use certified organic 100 percent of the time, but we use organic produce when we can,” said Andy Scullin, manager of Saratoga Juice Bar.


Joan K. Lentini photoCostly but healthy
Whether the juices are strictly organic or not, their price tags may yield sticker shock to those unfamiliar with the juicing way of life. Depending on size and ingredients, a serving of juice can range from $4 to $10. And the cost can increase beyond that base price if the consumer opts for add-ons such as protein powder, hemp hearts and bee pollen.


Still, juice lovers say it’s money well spent.

Some of the local juice bars, such as Clarity, use traditional centrifugal juicers, which extract the pulp and yield a highly perishable juice that’s essentially designed to be consumed almost as soon as it’s made.

“Juicing to me has always been about fresh juice, consumed within the first 20 minutes of it being made, because at that point the vitamins begin breaking down through oxidization,” Frank said. “Four Seasons has been going through an extreme makeover with its expanded location on Henry Street, and the juice menu will be overhauled after our September renovations to the Phila Street café. I’m open to adding cold-pressed juices at some point, but for now we’re doing fresh juices.”

Others juice emporiums, such as All Good Things and Saratoga Juice Bar, offer both freshly made and cold-pressed juices, in which the produce is super-squeezed with a hydraulic press.
“With centrifugal juicing, the pulp gets left out, and that’s where a lot of the nutrients are,” Scullin explained. “Cold-pressed juices are made using hydraulic pressure, which slowly squeezes the nutrients out of the juice. What’s left behind is dry, fibrous ‘shell’ from the fruit or vegetable, so most of the nutrients have gone into the juice.”

Although fresh juices are best consumed immediately, Scullin said cold-pressed juices have a shelf life of up to five days.

“We offer seven varieties of cold-pressed juices,” he said. “But if someone wants a custom-blended fresh juice, we can do that. It’s not as nutritional as a cold-pressed juice, but it’s definitely not unhealthy.”

John Murphy, the front house manager of Healthy Living Market’s locations in Wilton and in Burlington, Vt., said the store’s juice bar offers two types of juices: the traditional fresh, made with a centrifugal juicer, and “masticated juices,” spun by an auger, which are usually made with leafy greens and wheatgrass.


Nourishment and cleansing
Peyser says her first experience at a juice bar – four years ago at a Whole Foods supermarket – was a life-altering event.

“Since then, I’ve had a green drink every single day,” she said. “I took charge of my health and decided to put good things in that fuel me. I started making juices for myself and, later, family and friends. Then I thought, ‘Why don’t I make juice for the world?’”

She shrugs off any complaints about the high cost.

“Yes, juices are pricey, but I tell customers, ‘This is your pharmacy, because the nutrients are going right into your bloodstream and nourishing you,’” Peyser said.

Although all of the local juice bars are doing a brisk grab-and-go trade, several also offering specified “juice cleanses,” in which customers drink juices only for a day, or several days, at a time.

“We offer a one, three, or five-day juice cleanses, which include six cold-pressed juices per day,” Murphy said. “Some do it for weight loss, while others just want to give their digestive system a break. We’re very comfortable with what we’re offering, and it’s all been approved by our nutritionist at Whole Health Nutrition in Williston, Vt.”

All Good Things offers a “Reset” or “Going Green” cleanse designed for one- to three-day increments.

And Saratoga Juice Bar features custom juice cleanses varying from one to five days.
“We make the juice specifically for the cleanses and have had a tremendous response,” Scullin said. “It’s not a trendy fad; you feel great on this because of the high nutrient content, and you’re drinking a juice every 90 minutes to two hours.”

Scullin said he can personally attest to the powers of a juice cleanse.

“I’ve used juicing and juice cleanses to lose 60 pounds in a year and a half,” he said. “The difference between this and fad diets is I felt amazing the entire time.”


Planning for growth
In case five local juice purveyors don’t provide enough access for consumers, Saratoga Juice Bar’s cold-pressed juices also are available at Skidmore College and Roma Imports – as well as at The Hot Yoga Spot in Clifton Park and Albany.

And Peyser plans to launch a corporate delivery service, along with a line of cold-pressed juices, this fall.

Murphy said the growth in demand for fresh juices is just part of the ever-growing interest in healthy foods.

“I think a lot of juicing’s popularity has to do with the entire food revolution around the country,” he said. “People are interested in where their food is coming from. They want good food and quality ingredients.

“Also, people are a lot busier nowadays. Juicing gives you a lot of nutrition without having to eat a pound of salad.”

Kim DeVito of All Things Good agreed that the increasing demand for juice represents people’s changing attitudes about food.

“We fully believe juicing is part of a lifestyle,” DeVito said. “Our philosophy is what you put into your body effects everything, from how your skin looks to your energy level. A lot of people are switching to that mindset, which is why they’re so receptive to trying juicing.”