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All drinks are not created equal. That’s especially clear when you realize a glass of wine is 125 calories, while a vodka soda is roughly 100. To boot: one sugary margarita can add 200-500 calories to your daily intake (and that’s before you order a second round)!
Beyond a basic knowledge of nutrition (or the ability to quickly Google ‘how many calories are in a dark and stormy?’) cocktail menus, pre-bottled beverages and at-home mixology kits can be difficult to navigate when you’re being mindful of what you’re consuming.
Thankfully, a few basic details can encourage you to request recipe modifications, identify unsavory ingredients and swap out caloric liquids at home.
Rather than engaging in trial and error: we spoke to Amanda Victoria, CEO, and co-founder of Siponey canned cocktails, which uses real juice, local wildflower honey and aged rye whiskey. Victoria has spent 15 years within the cocktail and spirits industry and remains an avid runner, cyclist, and yogi. (Not to mention she’s on a plant-forward diet which limits processed foods.)
If a health-conscious spirits pro can keep her drinks tasty without obliterating her diet, we had to know-how! Read on for her tips for making cocktails skinny (including what specific glass to drink out of).
Victoria compares the drink you’re sipping to any other dish you’re mindfully consuming in an effort to cut down on calories. She uses a simple salad with top-notch mix-ins as a comparative example (case in point: carrots are likely a more nutritious topping than, say, a sugary-cream-based, high-processed dressing). In that same vein, what you put in your glass makes all the difference. “Real ingredients truly matter when enjoying cocktails,” says Victoria. (So… let’s skip out on the fake juice and fillers.)
If you love sweet drinks, eliminating sugar can be challenging — but it’s not impossible to improve the quality of your cocktail while doing so. There is an easy swap. “My biggest tip for ‘drinking better’ is to minimize processed sugars such as simple syrup, made from refined white sugar,” says Victoria. “I personally began substituting honey that called for simple syrup in cocktails because I found I would feel a lot better the next day.” By doing so, Victoria noticed she appeared less puffy during the following 24 hours.
While this isn’t groundbreaking news: club soda continues to be a popular base for alcoholic drinks given its hydrating qualities and its zero-calorie contents. “Hydration is so important,” she says. She also encourages imbibers to explore the vast world of “highball” cocktails (in short: base spirit + club soda mixer, served “long”). “Club soda offers an effervescent, refreshing and dry alternative to cocktails served ‘up’ in a coupe or a Martini glass,” she says referring to highball beverages. (More on glassware in a minute…)
While we often check the nutrition labels on snacks and foods, it’s equally important to read beverage labels thoroughly. You do not want the text (or the drink, for that matter) to include processed and synthetic ingredients from your beverages. “Unfortunately [these] are often categorized and labeled as the deceiving term ‘natural flavors’,” says Victoria.
When you’re looking to ease up on calories, sugar, and other not-so-beneficial ingredients: opt for a highball glass so you can observe exactly what you’re consuming. Sometimes coupes and martini glasses are deceiving due to their shapes — translation: they look like your beverage is smaller. In turn, you’ll end up drinking more than you think.
As someone who has been in the industry for a decade and a half and maintained an active lifestyle, Victoria applies a personal rule while imbibing: drink two glasses of water for every cocktail consumed. Not only will this keep you hydrated, but it’ll keep you full as well (read: less room for more caloric drinks)!
Keep these pointers in mind while out with friends or mixing skinny cocktails at home. Cheers!