Why Dietitians and Bartenders Are Begging You To Stop Putting Collagen in Your Cocktails

Photo: Getty Images / Catherine Falls Commercial
When it comes to off-the-wall drinks that are just weird enough to work, no one does them better than TikTokers.

When the platform responsible for recent trends like onion water and Parmesan Espresso Martinis mixes wellness claims into cocktail recipes, the results can be…well…iffy, to say the least. While most good-for-you viral beverages lean in a non-alcoholic direction—hey there, Sleepy Girl Mocktail—some TikTokers and brands have started playing around with boozy libations that include nutritional supplements. One of the most notable examples of this rising trend is the "collagen cocktail," or an alcoholic drink with collagen powder or liquid collagen added to the mix.

Experts In This Article

So what’s the point of putting collagen in a cocktail? Can the health benefits of this ingredient really shine through in this context, or do the downsides of alcohol outweigh the positives of the collagen? And what exactly does collagen do to a spirit-based beverage from a flavor and texture perspective? We’ve got all the answers here.

What to know about collagen protein

Collagen is a naturally-occurring protein that your body makes to form and strengthen connective tissue. (Other potential health benefits of collagen include gut-health support and reduced workout soreness.)

Wan Na Chun, RD, a registered dietitian and health consultant for Health Insiders, adds that collagen “plays a role in skin and bone health as it is a key component of cartilage, which are tissues that protect the joints in our bodies.”

As mentioned, our bodies produce collagen on their own; you can also get it from meat and fish. ("Vegan" collagen you might find in plant foods is not true collagen, but rather stuff your body can use to make collagen itself.) But as we age, collagen production slows. For that reason, some people choose to add collagen supplements (usually found in the form of powders, liquids, or pills) to their diets.

"Collagen peptide supplementation can improve bone mineral density and bone formation," says Chun. "Postmenopausal women who have a greater risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures may benefit from collagen supplements that can help improve bone density and strength.”

However, skin-care aficionados know that collagen supplementation can bring other benefits. Collagen “can potentially support skin elasticity,” says Catherine Gervacio, RND, a dietitian, exercise nutrition coach, and health coach with EH Project. She adds that the protein has potential “anti-aging skin benefits” that can support the look and feel of your skin, hair, and nails. (However, it should be noted that experts aren't sure how much of the collagen you consume in pill or powdered form actually makes it way to the skin for maximal perks.)

Do collagen cocktails have any benefits for your health?

The short answer: No. While alcohol is certainly fun to drink in moderation, it's important to remember that there is no such thing as a “healthy” drink that contains alcohol.

"While the addition of collagen to alcohol is not necessarily harmful, the health benefits of collagen are negated when it is consumed with alcohol."
—Wan Na Chun, RD

"Collagen added to an alcoholic drink seems to be so promising because lots of people may believe it to possibly offset the skin consequences brought about by alcohol,” says Gervacio, (think: dryness, lower elasticity, and redness). Unfortunately, Gervacio says that the perks of collagen supplements are only fully enjoyed as part of a healthy diet, since nutrients like vitamin C, zinc, and copper are required to jumpstart collagen production and absorption in the body.

To spell it out: One collagen cocktail is not enough to transform your skin, especially if you're not doing other things to support skin health.

Not only does alcohol fail to spark the benefits of collagen, but it can actively work against them. “Alcohol can dehydrate the body, including the skin, which is contrary to the hydrating effects of collagen," Chun says. "While the addition of collagen to alcohol is not necessarily harmful, the health benefits of collagen are negated when it is consumed with alcohol."

What bartenders think about the collagen cocktails trend

Okay, so collagen cocktails aren't the secret elixir to better skin. But is there any non health-related reason to add this supplement to your libations? To answer this question, we asked a pair of skilled mixologists—Lilly and Greg DeForest-Campbell, both veteran NYC bartenders, beverage consultants, and proprietors of 1897 Beekman House in Dundee, New York—to try making a few classic cocktails with collagen as an extra ingredient and to tell us what they thought.

In short, they’re not fans. “We wouldn’t recommend collagen in any drink,” Lilly says. While collagen is commonly marketed as flavorless by the brands that produce and sell it, the DeForest-Campbells were both able to easily detect the taste-related differences between drinks made without collagen and drinks with collagen included. (And not in a good way.)

The worst problems showed up in citrus-heavy drinks like margaritas and Palomas. “Citrus and agave [syrup] seem to emphasize the unpleasant taste and texture of the collagen," says Greg. "This drink left an aftertaste reminiscent of the bitterness of artificial sweeteners, and we also got a funk that was similar to dirty socks." (BRB, just threw up a little in my mouth.) In terms of texture, Lilly says that the collagen gave her margarita a mouthfeel similar to “raw lime Jello."

“Citrus and agave seem to emphasize the unpleasant taste and texture of the collagen. This drink left an aftertaste reminiscent of the bitterness of artificial sweeteners, and we also got a funk that was similar to dirty socks."
—Greg DeForest-Campbell, bartender, beverage consultant

If you’re determined to try adding collagen to cocktails, the DeForest-Campbells recommend sticking with “strong, spirit-inclusive drinks” that contain no acid, limited sweetness, and as few mixers as possible. The most successful collagen cocktail that they sampled was a dry gin martini with a lemon twist, which “looked like dirty dishwater, but the crisp, botanical flavor of the gin shone through and it drank almost like a normal martini.” A rye Old Fashioned also stood out as “not completely offensive,” although Greg mentions that “the collagen seemed to throw the flavors out of balance.”

The bottom line: Skip this trend

Collagen cocktails may be popping up on TikTok as an intriguing option for skincare fans who also enjoy a nightcap, but there are good reasons why they haven’t caught on with professional bartenders or registered dietitians. The collagen doesn’t add any health benefits to the cocktail, the presence of the alcohol could actually reduce the health benefits of the collagen, and the finished cocktail will be inoffensive at best and repulsive at worst. Skip this trend and save the collagen for your (non-alcoholic) smoothies and the booze for happy hour.

The Wellness Intel You Need—Without the BS You Don't
Sign up today to have the latest (and greatest) well-being news and expert-approved tips delivered straight to your inbox.

Loading More Posts...