We’ve all done it. We’ve taken that shot of wheatgrass with plugged noses while we counted down from 10 (wishing we had started at 100) just willing ourselves to swallow… that foul smelling green juice finally spreading through our system like a volcano spews lava. No one actually likes the taste of all those superfoods we can barely pronounce— the roots, spirulina, and algae that are liquefied in the blenders of our favorite health spots in town. But we know they’re healthy, so we suffer through them.
Jack Latner, an LA transplant who had recently left the animation and publishing world, wondered why, when so many people utilized these ingredients, couldn’t someone take them and make something that tasted great? He had recently fallen into the superfood world when a friend began to suffer from an autoimmune disorder. Together they became frustrated at the western medicine that was causing all sorts of adverse side effects. After visiting a holistic health doctor with his friend, Jack was inspired to switch up his diet as well. Suddenly he was noticing things were changing that he didn’t even know were wrong. “My skin was better, I had more energy, I was sleeping better. All these things started changing just by including these herbs in my everyday life,” he explains.
The one thing that wasn’t really working for him though was where and when could he get these miracle elixirs. “I’d go to a juice bar and spend $20 on a drink, then wait 15 minutes for it to be made. I’d have it one day, and go back the next and it would taste different. Meanwhile there are people lined up all waiting to pay $20 for one of these drinks which never really tasted that good to start with. I thought, I could do better than this. There’s room here for improvement here.”
He, along with his college friend and now co-founder, Fraser Thompson, set out to create a drink— one with the municipal mushrooms, the tonic herbs, and the magic potions— that actually tasted good. And just like that, the idea for Lifehouse Tonics + Elixirs was born.
Through self education and meeting friends in the industry they familiarized himself with all things superfood. “It’s such an untapped world in the western culture,” Jack explains. “In Asia, India, China, and Japan all of these things are like another food group. It’s a part of their everyday life. It’s almost like their medicine.”
Jack slaved away for a year and a half in his kitchen with a vegan chef, playing with ingredients, trying new things, while creating and customizing recipes that the masses would enjoy.
They didn’t want Lifehouse Tonics + Elixirs to be just another juice bar. In fact one of their hashtags is #itsnotjuice. “We don’t have fresh kale or beets in the back and we’re not crushing hundreds of pounds of bottles and then throwing most of it away,” Jack explains. What they wanted to do was create a special place in wellness that used advanced ingredients that weren’t being used anywhere else.
“A lot of these ingredients on their own taste horrible; they literally taste like grass or dirt and it’s disgusting,” he admits. “But they are some of the most nutritious and mineralizing things on the planet so that’s why we’ve spent so much time gearing them in a certain way. One of the most important things for us is flavor. We don’t allow a lot of customization because we’ve spent so much time building these different drinks that have different effects on you.”
A Lifehouse smoothie is more than just a healthy way to unwind post a Runyon Canyon hike. Depending on which one you choose, they can be energizing, can help with concentration, and can help detoxify your system and pull toxins out— all those fancy ingredients are there to do some work after all! In the end, the drinks are Insta-“like” bait, are huge, and have fun names the regular person can actually understand like Mud Hut, Love Shack, and Filthy Hippie.
Lifehouse Tonics and Elixirs opened their first store in February of this year on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. The small storefront is straight out of Instagram heaven, having become a mini tourist stop for those who have come to Tinseltown to see the sites. Tourists and health nuts alike all come in to take photos of their beautiful magic-filled smoothies floating over the now infamous slogan sprawled across the floor: “THIS MUST BE THE PLACE.”
And your tastebuds agree.
Lindsay DeLong is the Managing Editor of The Fullest. She would like to pre-order a Love Shack for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, everyday, forever. Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media via @lindizzaster.
Photographs by: Marielena Verdugo.