Monday, January 12, 2009

Moonshine Monday: Low-Calorie Cocktails

If you're trying to lose weight, drinking alcohol is relatively contraindicated.  You're drinking calories that you could be eating and once you've had a couple, your better judgement tends to recede into the noise of bar food cravings and midnight munchies.  But if you must imbibe, or are merely trying to make smarter drink choices, here are a few guidelines.

Oh, two last things before we get started:  
  1. I don't drink wine, and the caloric info for low-cal beers is more readily available than that for booze, so I'm stickin' with the hard stuff for this post.
  2. Not all alcohol is technically vegan.  By technically, I'm referring to the less obvious exceptions.  We all know that cream-based liqueurs aren't vegan (or low-cal ... or low-fat for that matter), but there are some other rather sneaky manufacturing methods and ingredients in some alcohols that make them not vegan.  To know what's what, google is your friend.  There are many lists out there explaining what's vegan and what's not.  Just do some digging.

No, not you ... the drink.  A Skinny Bitch, as it's called in common barroom vernacular, is merely a diet coke with vodka.  I prefer Coke Zero over diet coke, but that's totally up to you.
  • 1 ounce vodka 
  • diet coke 
  • squeeze of lime
  1. Start with a highball (tall, thin glass) and add the vodka and ice.  Fill it up with the diet coke of your choice and top it off with a squeeze of lime. Easy, tasty, and only about 70 calories. 

If you're into margaritas, you may want to give mojitos a try.  Since margaritas are typically made with a syrupy margarita mixer, they weigh in at about 338 calories each.  Mojitos, on the other hand, counter with a much more reasonable 136 calories.  Here's how to make one:
  • 3 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 3 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces of light rum
  • club soda, chilled
  1. In a highball (a tall, thin glass), crush part of the mint with a fork to coat the inside.  Add the sugar and lime juice and stir thoroughly.  Top with ice.  Add rum and mix.  Top off with cold club soda (or seltzer).  Add a lime slice and the remaining mint, and serve.

Inventing cocktails is easy and way too fun.  Inventing calorie-conscious cocktails is little more tricky.  The last time I looked, there was no caloric breakdown listed on bottles of booze.  I don't know why they don't provide that information, but I wish they would.  If you keep in mind that most 80-proof alcohols (not liqueurs, those have sugar) deliver 96 calories per standard 1.5 ounce serving, you can build from there.  Determining the calories in the juice, mixer, soda, or seltzer you are mixing it with is much easier.


Now that you know how many calories you're getting in your booze, you can minimize the impact to your ass and thighs by adding the least amount of additional calories possible.  My personal favorite is club soda.  It's fizzy and totally versatile with no artificial sweeteners.  Tonic is also an option if you don't mind the twang it delivers, as are diet sodas and many others. 


I made these at the Winter Solstice Brunch I hosted last month and The Husband and I have been drinking them ever since.  They are tasty, easy, and low-calorie.

The Winter Solstice
  • 1.5 ounces orange vodka - 103.5 calories
  • .5 ounce orange liqueur (we're using homemade, but you can use Grand Marnier or Cointreau) - 38 calories
  • .5 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice - 4 calories
  • club soda - 0 calories
  • thin slice of orange for garnish
  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, orange liqueur, lemon juice, and ice; shake until well combined. Strain into a chilled highball filled with ice and top with club soda.  Carefully insert a thin slice of orange into the glass for garnish and serve.  Only 145.5 calories.
Since the Winter Solstice is all about the rebirth of the sun, I like to garnish with a round of orange because it reminds me of the sun.  But if you'd rather garnish with mint or berries, have at it.

Remember, moderation is the key.  Hope that helps!

Tomorrow, I'll be talking all about breakfasts for Healthy Resolutions.


allularpunk said...

dude! 3 posts in one day. you are a machine. first up - i love water. always have. i just forget to drink it! which is silly. michael likes to put lemons and limes in his water, but that makes me gag. i like your idea of herbs in it though! i could totally go for some mint water. yummm... also, good job on the low-cal drink ideas! i know for a fact that i probably drink enough beer to count for 2 meals (calorie-wise) about 4 times (maybe more?) a week, which frigging kills my weight. when i'm trying to go low-cal i usually drink vodka and diet orange soda. i know it probably sounds completely gross, but it's good. and pretty cheap, haha...

Bethany said...

mmmm... booze. I like the look of the orange slice in the wintery cold looking drink. nice touch.

I love cuba libre's (coke, lime, rum). I guess the diet version is just to use diet coke.

jessy said...

i am definitely one who gets drinkyfaced and then eats and eats and eats. i'm trying to curb that nasty habit! i promise. part of my new years resolution is no booze until my birthday in may - but you better believe that i'm totally making one of your winter solstices then, Marni - it sounds sooooo fantastical!

good point on not all booze be'n vegan. i'm a wino, and i have a list of a-okay vegan approved wines, even found a few local wines that are vegan as well! superw00t! i just learned that kosher wines are also vegan - love it!

skinny bitch made me giggle - gonna have to try one out in may, too. vodka = my friend, & i'm such a sucker for the occasional diet coke! mmmmmmmmm!