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We Try the Juices from Thrive in San Francisco

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Thrive Juicery recently opened a juice bar at Nectar Wine Lounge in San Francisco. The collaboration seems like a bit of an unlikely one, but bringing together cold-pressed juices with wine is a good excuse for a mimosa. In addition to that bubbly brunch option, you can buy Thrive's juices in to-go bottles. We gave 9 different flavors a try. They're pricey at $9 a bottle, but each container is filled with the juice from three pounds of organic fruits and vegetables.

Highly Recommended

Nut milks are the comfort food of the juice cleansing set, but those of us looking for a little protein and non-dairy creaminess tend to really like them too. My old favorite was OMilk out of Brooklyn, but since I can't get that in San Francisco, I'm looking for a locally-made option. Thrive's Almond Joy is definitely in the running for the best I've tried. It's made with raw almonds, filtered water, and a touch of sea salt, sweetened with dates and vanilla. It's pretty awesome, rich and creamy but not at all heavy, with no sludge, grit, or bitterness. It's a little sweeter than regular dairy milk, with a slight nutty aftertaste, but it's not as sweet as a milkshake, and the vanilla isn't overpowering. Pour it in your coffee or sip it as an afternoon snack.

Thrive's Coco H20 is a worthwhile reminder that most of the coconut water we drink these days isn't fresh and doesn't have the robust flavor of the real stuff. This version is rich and refreshing, not too sweet, and just a little nutty. There's young coconut pulp floating around in it—this stuff will please those who are entertained by their drinks having stuff in them. (But it's much, much better than the canned options from your local Asian grocery.) This is a hangover-healer we believe in. That said, you could buy quite a few coconuts for the price of this drink.

The Here & Now is a seasonally changing blend of juices, the version we tried in December was the Beetastic, made with beets, apple, lemon, cucumber and ginger. It was delicious, a bit like beet borscht with a fresh, sweet citrusy side. Sometimes beet juices really taste like you're drinking root vegetables, but this one would be easy for even non-beet-lovers to stomach. Some of the hardcore might find it a touch sweet, but we enjoyed its fruity-juicy side (and even considered adding it to a cocktail.)

Green juices can go a couple of ways: they can be thick and sludgy, bitter and herbal, sweet and oddly fruity, or have a salad-like balance that's oddly appealing. We're always searching for this last type. Thrive's Tropical Greens is nearly there, bright, fresh, and lettucey (there's romaine in it) but with enough sweetness from pineapple and pear to make it approachable in the morning. Hardcore green-juice drinkers might find it a bit on the sweet side, but those of us who need a little help facing olive-green liquid breakfast will find this one easy to sip. It includes a bit of kale (but not enough to make things bitter), romaine, spinach, cucumber, celery (which can often take over but here is nicely balanced), pear, pineapple, lemon, and ginger, with a touch of cilantro (we couldn't taste it.) We'd definitely pick this up again for a day when a few vitamins seem like a good idea, and easily drink the whole thing.

Recommended with Reservations

Thrive's Green Dream has similar ingredients to the Tropical Greens (apple, ginger, kale, romaine, parsley, spinach, cucumber, celery, and lemon) but tastes quite different. Most notably, it's quite tart from the lemon—almost puckeringly so, and much less sweet due to the lack of pineapple and pear. You can taste parsley, but it's not abrasive. Still, this one's more for the person who already loves green juice. As with Thrive's other bottled juices, there's a lightness to this; it's not a sludge you need to put on ice.

I've always thought fennel was an underused juice and cocktail ingredient, since it straddles the line of sweet and savory so nicely. Thrive's Fennominal Greens is a tasty but unusual blend of cucumber and fennel with apple and mint. More spa beverage than green smoothie, it's bright, light, and rehydrating with just a touch of sweetness. If you're not a big fan of fennel, and you never liked cucumber water, this is not for you.

Thrive's Cozy Cashew is made with raw cashews, vanilla, cinnamon, and filtered water, and it's thick and with lots of cinnamon-spice. The texture's a little silty, not quite creamy, and we didn't like it as much as the Almond Joy.

The PAMP is a mix of cold pressed pinapple, apple, mint, pear, and filtered water, pretty similar to the mixture in the Blueprint cleanse. But it's less sweet and thick than the Blueprint version. But if you're not comparing the two, this version is crisp and light, refreshing like a good apple, with just a little pineapple tang. There's a whiff of mint, but this isn't mojito-like at all.

Skippable

The Lively Lemonade is an old juice-cleanse classic: cayenne lemonade, without a ton of cayenne. There's just the slightest prickle of heat, and this stuff's more like fresh-tasting lemon-water, but we couldn't help thinking that this could be easily made at home for much less money.

Juices available online and at Thrive Juicery. Samples provided for review.

Thrive Juicery at Nectar Wine Lounge

3330 Steiner Street (between Lombard and Chestnut), San Francisco, CA (map) 415-345-1377; thrive-cleanse.com/juices/

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