Shine Restaurant & Potion Bar couldn’t exist anywhere other than Boulder, Colorado. Kooky to its core, it’s no coincidence that this Colorado mountain town was the setting of “Mork & Mindy,” a 1970s sitcom starring Robin Williams as a suspenders-wearing extra-terrestrial. There’s an otherworldly vibe to the place.
That quirkiness reaches its apex at Shine, where a menu of “enchanted beverages” promises to “playfully transform your experience of life.” Shine reopened in a new location in Village Boulder’s Shopping Plaza, an outdoor mall, earlier this year. Its owners, triplets who go by the nickname the “Blissful Sisters,” had to close the six-year-old original outpost last summer.
Sisters Jennifer, Jessica, and Jill Emich are longtime Boulder residents and the creative force behind Shine. They design potions using adaptogenic herbs, which they believe create internal harmony, as well as sound frequencies and vibrations. Each drink has an intention prescribed. The Reset Button is a mix of sassafras bark, burdock root, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, and honey. Its intention is, “I am open to everything and attached to nothing.” It’s treated with a camas flower essence and a rose quartz gemstone essence.
Another potion is called the Fairy Bubbles, and it bills itself as a mix of love, pomegranate juice, lemon, honey, and hibiscus. It is treated with calla lily flower essence, rose quartz essence, and the sounds of baby laughter and wind in the trees. The Fairy Bubbles is intended to replenish and uplift, and is reputedly rich in vitamin C.
I wish I could tell you I immediately dismissed these concepts as woo-woo, or mystical mumbo-jumbo worthy of a 1970s sitcom alien. The truth is, I was intrigued. “Self-care” and “wellness” are endeavors that feel omnipresent in 2018, but Shine predates them by several years.
Were these potions for real? Could a grown person like me really drive to a shopping plaza and ingest something infused with baby laughter? And if I did, what would happen?
I decided to find out for myself. Last month I sat down with Jill Emich, one of the Blissful Sisters, and prepared to have my mind and palate opened. Arriving late after heavy highway traffic, I was flustered when I sat down and was particularly receptive to the idea of a beverage with instantly “calming” powers, however unscientific it might be. We started with a small glass of Reset Button and talked about the concept behind Shine’s drinks.
The sisters developed the potions with the idea of creating healthful drinks with a touch of whimsy. “We wanted to have a non-alcoholic alternative to a cocktail, but also something that wasn’t just a sugary juice,” Jill told me. “We wanted it to be nourishing for body and spirit and for it to be fun for the person drinking it.”
Jessica Emich has a master’s degree in holistic nutrition. She chose the combinations of ingredients in the drinks that work together to aid digestion and nutrition. She also carefully combined herbs, creating mixes easily assimilated by the body. Each drink contains a blend of adaptogenic herbs — herbs that promote the stabilization of the body’s physiological functions and balance of the internal organs. One of the purported benefits is your body’s ability to resist the negative effects of stress.
“Adaptogenic herbs meet your body’s internal organs where they are, stress-wise and function-wise, to create balance. It’s really all about the adrenals,” Jill says. “The herbs are included to replenish the body, along with the other energetics in the drinks.” For example, holy basil, an aromatic used in the Three Laughing Monks potion, is said to have antiseptic, stress-relieving qualities. Maca, in the Owl Eyes potion, is believed to energize, balance moods, and help memory.
After a few ounces of the gingery Reset Button, I admittedly did feel more calm, centered, and balanced. But it could have just been the serene and happy vibe Jill Emich radiates. Personality, like mission-based branding, can be contagious. We moved on to sample the Fairy Bubbles.
The first ingredient in each of the potions is love. Yes, you read that right. The love comes in the form of water that’s been energetically “charged” using crystals. To those who subscribe to certain New Age principles, rose quartz is considered the stone of unconditional love. People who use crystals in their spiritual work say the stone is used to purify the heart, promote love of others and of self, and for friendship, healing, and bringing about feelings of peace.
In making their potions, the Emich sisters “charge” a bowl of water with loving-crystal energy by surrounding the bowl with rose quartz stones under a full moon. The love-filled gem essence is put into the potions using a dropper.
“People love ordering the Fairy Bubbles! Kids always order it, but I just love when we get a guy in who orders it,” Jill says with a laugh. “Real men drink Fairy Bubbles.”
The drink is one of three potions, including Owl Eyes and Three Laughing Monks, that are on tap at Shine. The potions are also incorporated into craft cocktails, made by combining the potions with spirits and additional ingredients. They come with intentions, too.
The Deviant Fairy, for example, is a blend of DV8 Coconut Vodka, Fairy Bubbles, lemon, and rose petals. It’s accompanied by the motto, “I dance from darkness into the light.” I don’t know about that, but I do know most things are improved with vodka. My stress began melting away with each sip.
The sisters’ idea of infusing beverages with sound vibrations is influenced by the work of Masaru Emoto, a Japanese researcher who claims human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water. Does this sound a little, well, out there? Sure. But think about the studies demonstrating the effect music has on houseplants. Emoto’s concept is that water molecules told “positive messages” before being frozen resulted in more “beautiful” molecule crystals (they look like snowflakes), whereas water told a negative message before being frozen tends to be less aesthetically pleasing.
Whether this holds up scientifically or not, the effects of sound on mood and wellbeing have been documented. At Shine, water is “charged” with the energy of certain sounds, such as the aforementioned baby laughter in Fairy Bubbles to uplift, or owl hoots, which are used in Owl Eyes for focus. To make the baby laughter, they recorded the laughter of all the babies born to employees of Shine, and had it remixed to make a continuous stream of sound. It sounds a little kooky, but, to be honest, I found myself smiling despite myself, just reading the words “baby laughter” on a drinks menu.
The flower essences in the drinks are made by a local horticulturalist, who “charges” water with flowers à la infusing water with rose quartz. The blue lotus essence in Three Laughing Monks, for example, is said to be an aphrodisiac.
Because this is Boulder, Shine potions can also be infused with a shot of Quicksilver CBD Hemp Oil. Or you can supplement your potion with a shot of B12. Both are put into the drinks using a tiny syringe.
As much as I enjoyed my experience at Shine, discussing baby’s laughter and unconditional love with Jill, and sipping on spiritually conscious vodka, I am not sure I buy into the idea of cosmically charged water. Yet I am not too proud to tell you that I bought a trio of Shine’s bottled potions (sold locally and on Amazon) and brought them home with me.
On a practical, irreligious front, the drinks are a nice alternative to a sugary cocktail mix. Placebo effect or not, I felt healthier drinking something infused with herbs and botanicals as opposed to junky dyes and add-ins.
“The results from drinking one of the potions are really all about the participant,” Jill says. “Just looking at the menu, people can just check in with themselves and ask, ‘How are you feeling? What do you need?’”
The sisters want people to have fun at Shine, but there is more to their operation than crystals and good vibes. The slogan on Shine’s menu reads, “THE MAGIC’S IN YOU.” In a world full of messaging from social media and the like telling us how to look and feel, and what sort of life we should want, Shine’s mission is actually pretty down to earth: All the beauty, strength, and happiness we need are already within ourselves. It’s just a matter of tapping into what you already have.
It’s a pretty pragmatic approach to enlightenment.