Jessa Smout, Founder of Amrita Handcrafted Beverages/ Jackson, WY
Jessa Smout’s Wyoming beverage business is based on a good pair of hiking boots. “I do a ton of wild foraging. I just went out the other day for rosehips,” Jessa said. “Living in Jackson, people think there’s not a lot of opportunity for that, but we have an insane amount of wildflowers.”
Rosehips in hand, she makes a mixer with turmeric and tarragon. One of many cordials and infusions in her AB:Free line for Amrita Handcrafted Beverages, it’s a “tiny delight” crafted for function and flavor. “Blame It on My Juice” combines The Perfect Purée Blood Orange with clementine, lime, honey, cardamom herbal extract, Aztec chocolate bitters and essence of trumpet vine and golden rod flowers. Jessa says the anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting concoction is fresh, citrusy and just a little dark.
“Blood orange has been a lifesaver for me,” she says.” I’m fresh juicing a lot of my own stuff and blood oranges are a real pain.”
Jessa is a natural health professional and crafts each elixir for subtle effects on the body’s energy centers, or chakras. “Blame It on My Juice,” she says, “may help with speaking your truth with love, clear communication and love for oneself as well as benefits to your heart chakra.”
Raising the Bar Naturally
Jessa was introduced to The Perfect Purée at Local, a Jackson culinary landmark where she had passion fruit-spiced tequila with The Perfect Purée Passion Fruit. “That was just phenomenal,” she says. “Living in Jackson, it gets hard to get tons of fresh fruit flavors and you almost never ever get [passion fruit] unless you’re traveling.”
Jessa’s drinks are inspired by local nature and far-off destinations. Jaljeera is based on a spicy, savory drink from India. Jessa’s version features her mango peach-spiced simple syrup from local peaches and dehydrated mango, The Perfect Purée Tamarind and tequila. “That drink kind of kind of takes your breath away,” she says. “The tamarind really stands out.”
For Three Kings, Jessa makes a cordial with The Perfect Purée Cranberry. She mixes that with The Perfect Purée Pomegranate, gin, pine liqueur and a drop of invigorating frankincense oil. Garnished with smoked rosemary, it’s a perennial holiday favorite.
Wild at Heart
Jessa put herself through nutrition school with money from bartending. After school, she ran a juice and tonic bar in Jackson but missed the creative spark of bartending and eventually went back to it. She founded Amrita Handcrafted Beverages in 2015 as a marriage of bartending and natural health. Amrita means “nectar of immortality” in Sanskrit and refers to the nectar you receive when you practice regularly, Jessa explains. “Then it sort of sounded like margarita,” she added laughing.
Clients include wellness groups looking for creative drinks without alcohol. “My priority is to always push for more no-alcohol events It’s fun to challenge myself in that flavor space without spirits. If someone wants a cocktail without alcohol, you can tell they’re used to a good one.”
Now, with more than 20 years of experience in bartending, restaurant management, wine and spirits education and nutritional consulting, Jessa knows how to read a room. Whether it’s an expert Old Fashioned, a spirits-optional baby shower juice or a signature wild-foraged tincture, her creativity is endless. She can serve a guru and his group wild-foraged lilac syrup that makes them feel a little crazy then ground them with a turmeric-ginger dessert drink.
“I have a lot of fun with it. I feel like I’m more of a beverage chef,” Jessa says. “I get really inspired by things. It intuitively comes to me what I want to make for people like it’s energetically being channeled to me.”