Archive for category Mixology
Summer is finally here (well, not officially but you get the point) and with the long days and warm weather come lots of opportunities for socializing…and drinking. In my circle, even a day at the beach isn’t complete without a bottle of vodka and a 12-pack of beer!
So, what’s a cocktail groupie to do when she wants to indulge in a tippling or three, without going overboard on the calories? You could workout while you drink, but that might be a little dangerous.
I know that when you are out having a good time, and the drinks start flowing the last thing I want to do is count calories (or points), but at the same time a MGD 64 just isn’t going to cut it!
I like to eat and I LOVE to drink. so I’ve found that applying the same principle to cocktails as food generally works- the fresher, and more natural the ingredients the better the flavors. Makes sense right? (Why do you think Puckers tastes like $h!t?). So, that being said once you have the basic alcohol base down you actually have a ton of great options for mixers that don’t over do it on the calories.
1. Pick Your Base
A light beer or glass of wine is always a good option for watching calories because of the built in portion control, but if you want a real drink there is a little more math involved. Most cocktails call for 1-2 servings of booze (a standard pour is about 1 1/2 ounces). Below are the calories for some common alcohols, based on the standard pour, you can be looking at 100 calories a shot (Is that going to stop me? Hell No!):
Vodka- 1oz 73 calories
Tequila- 1oz 65 calories
Rum- 1oz 65 calories
Gin- 1oz 70 calories
Whiskey- 1oz 65 calories
Bourbon- 1oz 69 calories
I believe in respecting a drink, and in my mind that respect is lost when you cover up the taste of the alcohol with crap! So, once you know what type of alcohol you want to drink (and assuming you aren’t just taking a shot or drinking it straight up/on the rocks) pick a mixer that compliments the alcohol.
2. Pick a Mixer
Some of my recommendations:
Fresh Grapefruit Juice- 76 calories for the juice of a medium sized fruit
Lime- 10 calories for the juice of a medium sized lime
Lemon- 13 calories for the juice of a medium sized lemon
Coconut Water- 8 oz. 46 calories
Watermelon (my current fav)- 1 cup about 46 calories
Green Tea (fresh brewed, unsweetened)- 8 oz 2 calories (yes, 2!)
Seltzer is a great option too- 8oz 1 cal
I don’t drink soda so I haven’t included it in my list, but diet soda is cool if that’s your thing.
Okay, now you have your base and options for mixers…time to get your (low-cal) drink on! How easy was that?
3. Make a Drink
Watermelon-Cucumber Aqua Fresca (<175 Cal)
1 1/2 oz Tequila, White Rum, Vodka OR Gin
1 medium cucumber, diced
1 cup watermelon, diced
Splash of honey/agave/simple syrup
Puree Cucumber, Mint and Watermelon in food processor or blender until liquefied and strain to remove seeds/pulp. Combine liquor, sweetener, and 3 oz juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a few sprigs of mint.
This recipe is great with just about any pureed fruit! Try strawberries, apple (really good with dark rum), cantaloupe, etc. Experiment with whatever you have on hand.
Paloma (<135 Cal)
1 1/2 oz Tequila Blanco
Juice from 1/2 Pink (or white) grapfruit
Pour tequila, and grapefruit juice over glass filled with ice. Stir. Top with seltzer and a splash of lime juice. You may need a splash of sweetener depending on the grapefruit used and your sweet tooth).
Gin and Tea (<125 Cal)
1 1/2 oz Gin
3 oz. Strong brewed Green Tea (unsweetened)
Slice of Lemon
Add gin, green tea, and honey to a cocktail shaker to combine. Shake well to dissolve honey, pour over iced filled glass and garnish with lemon.
Now you can go drink your skinny ass off. Cheers!
I’ve never been a rum drinker; unless you count the handle I carried around during a Halloween party in college forcing everyone to take a shot as soon as they walked in…Needless to say that didn’t end well!
It’s not that I’m a purist, I just like to taste the alcohol in my drinks (*No Judging*).
Anyway, a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending an amazing event hosted by Zacapa Rum. I am thankful to have experienced Zacapa because my whole outlook on rum has changed. Not only am I now a fan (I seek it out on the menu at restaurants/bars), I even enjoy it on its own with a single ice cube (how sophisticated am I?)
Zacapa is a Guatemalan Rum that is aged in “the house above the clouds,” which happens to be 2300m (8,000 ft) above sea level. What’s the big deal? Well, the thin, cool air slows the aging process and helps intensify the flavors in the barrels (translation-it doesn’t burn the back of your throat when you drink it). One of the other things that makes Zacapa different, and gives it the smooth sweet flavor I love is the use of virgin sugar cane honey. Most rum is made with a molasses base which can give you that funky after taste…also, Zacapa is aged in four casks that give it an even greater dimension of flavor with hints of bourbon, sherry and oak. This process can take up to 23 years (hence the name Zacapa 23). Finally, the piece de resistance that sealed the deal with me and Zacapa…their master blender is a woman (oh yeah!) Lorena Vásquez Ampié is awesome, for being one of the few female master blenders in the world, and for a unique, premium spirit at that!
Now to the good stuff…a few recommendations on how to enjoy your next Zacapa beverage. I strongly suggest trying it neat or on the rocks to appreciate the warm flavor of the rum- but I have listed a few recipes I enjoy as well.
Improved Hawaiian Punch
(created at the Zacapa Event by brand ambassador Danny Valdez)
2 oz Zacapa Rum 23
¾ oz black tea
½ oz fresh pineapple juice
15 ounces lemon juice
¼ oz allspice dram
¼ oz palm sugar
Oleo saccharum to taste*
Grated Kona coffee for garnish
* Lemon peels & Sugar. Muddle lemon peels and sugar into a paste. Let sit for at least half an hour.
Create oleo saccharum one hour early. Combine Zacapa Rum 23, allspice dram, black tea, fresh pineapple juice, lemon juice, oleo saccharum, and palm sugar into a shaker. Shake well and pour over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish drink individually with grated Kona. Makes 1 Drink. .
The Old Virgin
2 oz Zacapa 23 Rum
Juice of 1 fresh lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
8 fresh mint leaves
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz chilled champagne or prosecco
Add rum, simple syrup, mint leaves and bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously—no need to muddle, as the ice will smash the mint—then strain into a glass. Top with the sparkling wine.
Makes 1 Drink
A Real Daiquiri
2 oz Zacapa 23 Rum
½ oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
1 Thinly sliced lime wheel
Combine rum, juice and syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a glass. Float the lime wheel in the drink as a garnish. Makes 1 Drink.
2 oz Zacapa 23 Rum
3/4 ozfresh lemon juice
3/4 oz honey syrup*
3 slices fresh ginger
1/4 oz Islay single malt scotch (such as Laphroaig)
* Honey syrup: combine equal parts honey and hot water and stir until well mixed. Let cool before using, and keep refrigerated.
Muddle the fresh ginger in the bottom of a cocktail shaker until it is well mashed. Add the rum, lemon juice, and honey syrup- shake well with ice. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and pour the Islay scotch over the back of a bar spoon so that it floats atop the drink.
Makes 1 Drink
As always, feel free to experiment with Zacapa as the base of your favorite rum cocktail!
Cocktails are a lot like fashion; trends that were once old will eventually become new again. So is the case with the latest burgeoning movement in cocktailing- Bitters.
Bitters, like many popular spirits got its start as a medicinal aid in the early twentieth century when Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert began selling it to British sailors as a cure for sea-sickness and other stomach issues. It quickly became popular as an appetite stimulant, either as an aperitif or digestif. While most Bitters have an herbal or bitter taste, some are flavored with fruits or other essences.
Today, the most commonly known Bitters are Angostura Bitters, Peychaud’s Bitters and Campari but a slew of new Bitters have recently entered the scene and are helping to spur a resurgence of the classic bar staple.
The best part about this Bitters-renaissance is that the new flavors lend themselves to a more unique experience than traditionally seen from the classic Bitters (don’t get me wrong- Peychaud’s and Angostura will still be mainstays in any well-stocked bar). Additionally, now Bitters are more accessible to the everyday bartender or cocktail groupie (yours truly) making for a better bitter experience.
First up; Bittermens Bitters. (Re)introduced in January 2011 and straight outta Brooklyn, this Bitters line began with the Xocolatl Mole Bitters and quickly expanded to more than ten fabulously original flavors (click here for full list). They can be purchased at the Bittermens General Store or sampled at Amor y Amargo. Try any of their amazing Bitters with Tequila and you are sure to have a winner on your hands.
Scrappy’s Bitters out of Seattle come in an AMAZING range of flavors from Chocolate to Celery. These pair perfectly with any spirit…particularly delicious is the Ragazza Cocktail which uses their Grapefruit Bitters (also available in the recipe section of our site).
Not to be overlooked is Bitter-Brooklyner, A.B. Smeby Bittering Co. which produces local, seasonal Bitters. Flavors run the gamut from Black and White-like the cookie-(a mixture of Mexican Chocolate, Tahitian Vanilla and Raw Cinnamon) to Lemon Verbana (fresh verbana, young ginger and lemongrass). These Bitters are available on their website or at a number of bars throughout the city such as The Modern and PDT.
If you are unable to find any of these Bitters locally, you can always make your own (slightly ambitious, but well worth it). It is actually easier than you might think. Here is an excellent recipe for Cherry Bitters or for a super simple Bitters recipe, try this courtesy of Art of Drink. This is one I will be trying myself (as soon as I locate the snake-root).
I encourage you to try a Bitters cocktail the next time you are out for a drink, or even better make your own…and remember, dont be bitter, be better! (okay, I’m through with the lame Bitter puns)