When Naijean Bernard thinks about her native Grenada, she thinks about the flavors that came out of her grandmother’s kitchen.
Grenada, with its lush hills and volcanic soil, is known as the spice island of the Caribbean because it produces so many spices, including nutmeg, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and ginger.
Bernard, who moved to Austin in 2006, remembers her grandmother, who rarely purchased anything from the grocery store, making drinks with fresh ginger, tamarind and whatever fruit was in season. "What I loved the most were her homemade baked breads and juices," she says. "I always stayed close by, observing her, so I could get the first taste."
As a new Austinite, Bernard started making some of those foods and sharing them with friends at their weekly potlucks. In 2016, she decided to start selling the drinks under the label Jeany's Ginger Elixir.
She’s based at The Cook’s Nook, a food incubator and commercial kitchen in East Austin, where she makes six flavors: Classic Ginger, Very Berry, Tamarindo, Hibiscus Spice Iced Tea, Melon Breeze and Cucumber Mint Limeade. Bernard is currently using peaches from Caskey Orchards in San Marcos in a seasonal drink called Peach Passion, and watermelon from Johnson’s Backyard Garden in the Strawberry Watermelon Lavender drink.
The cold-pressed and non-pasteurized juices are sweetened with organic raw agave nectar and last about 2 weeks in the fridge. They cost about $5 each, or you can try a sampler pack of all six flavors for $30. (The sampler is currently on sale for $20.)
Bernard has unsweetened options, too, and she’s often experimenting with new flavors, including peach and strawberry lavender.
You can buy the elixirs through Vinder, an Austin-based app that allows customers to order fresh food and packaged food and drink products for delivery from local farms and small food producers.
She also sells at the Barton Creek Farmers Market on Saturdays and will start selling at the Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller in July. You can learn more or order online at jeanysgingerelixir.com.