Confession: We know sugar isn’t, um, great for us. Even so, we can’t seem to kick the habit. A teaspoon in our coffee here, a Friday cocktail there...not to mention candy. So much candy.
But when we’ve tried to switch to sugar-free alternatives in the past, we’ve always been less than satisfied. They just taste different (and not in a good way). So when we heard about the just-launched Swoon, we have to admit that our first reaction was, “Anotha one?” Nevertheless, we tasted it.
Here’s the scoop: Swoon is a sugar-free liquid sweetener made from monk fruit (aka luo han guo), a melon native to southern Asia. Other sugar substitutes are made from monk fruit, but Swoon’s founders Jennifer Ross and Christina Ros Blankfein explained to us that theirs differs in that it doesn’t contain sugar alcohols (which are the source of that all too familiar weird aftertaste you get with many sugar-free sweeteners). When developing the product, they worked with not only nutritionists but also baristas and bartenders to ensure that the product was as close in taste and texture to simple syrup as possible. (OK, now we’re intrigued.) Aside from monk fruit, the ingredient list is brief: xantham gum and gum acacia for texture, lactic acid for freshness, natural flavoring and water.
We tried Swoon in four drinks: lemonade, a tea-like elixir, cold brew and a margarita. And we’ve got to say, we were impressed. The sweetener didn’t have the lingering bitterness that screams “this isn’t sugar!” and it wasn’t cloying. In a blind taste test, we actually don’t think we would be able to distinguish it from the real thing. Associate editor Abby Hepworth said she liked it for two reasons: “It’s nice that since it’s a liquid, it actually dissolves in your drink, and unlike a lot of artificial sweeteners, there isn’t a weird aftertaste. It’s the closest thing to real sugar that I’ve tried so far.”
If you’re thinking, Great, but why should I take your word for it? know that it’s now being carried in a ton of New York City and Los Angeles coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Ever heard of a little Michelin-starred restaurant called Eleven Madison Park? Yep, it’s a fan. So Swoon is not just healthy; it’s also food-industry approved. As of today, you can buy it online (and soon on Amazon).
The final verdict? We’ll probably never lose our sweet tooth completely. But now we can at least try—starting with a margarita.