Trade sweet for savory; get variety, potency and panache 

By Jason P. Freeman

It’s been a long, boring winter but spring has finally sprung! Time to celebrate! Yet, winter bulking and hibernation, as well as coronavirus-related, self-isolated stress eating, has wreaked havoc on our hips and widened our waistlines. All of which may lead one to wonder: How am I supposed to work off my winter weight, lose that quarantine 15 and get beach-bod ready while also catching a sweet, boozy buzz? Creative, low-cal cocktailing is where it’s at. 

Now, at this point, you might also be asking yourself, “Isn’t a ‘low-calorie cocktail’ kind of a misnomer?” As alcohol is widely considered unnecessary calories, most fitness professionals will suggest removing all types of booze from your diet for at least five weeks when attempting to lose weight. However any career bartender, and every drunken, club-going woo girl, will undoubtedly always call bullshit on that one. Nobody likes a party pooper! And, frankly, what’s the point of getting into shape in effort to increase your quality of life if only to deny yourself the simple pleasures that life has to offer? So, indulge a little bit. Have a drink. You deserve it. 

In this post’s corresponding podcast, Beer Fit Club Founder Sophia Del Gigante and her guest (yours truly) have an intoxicating discussion on three different ways one can enjoy a stiff drink without completely compromising their health-and-fitness regimen: Discontinuing the use of metabolism-crushing artificial flavors and sweeteners (no skinny syrups, creams or unnatural sugar substitutes). Trade conventional sugary mixers, like juice, carbonated beverages and store-bought sours, for muddled mint or fresh fruit in a zero-calorie refresher (ie: water, vitamin water or club soda). And—perhaps the most provocative of methods—coercing your taste buds into thirsting for a less sugary, more savory concoction. Being that one always craves what they regularly consume, selecting a more “spirited” spirit, creatively combined with a lower-calorie, bitter-blended mixer will, over time, trick your palate into believing the more tangy of tinctures are actually the heavily sugared drinks one usually hankers for during the hotter months. 

Posted below are three drink recipes, from the least sweet to the most savory, which focus on adding flair and flavor to otherwise conventionally sugary solutions. 

Bottoms up, Bitches! And enjoy!  

The Vodka Buck Spritzer

The buck stops here with this bubbly take on the Moscow Mule, sans the risk of copper toxicity (no malign metal mug used for this buck). 

In a Collins glass filled to the brim with ice, pour in one shot vodka of your choosing, a hefty squeeze of fresh lime, a conservative splash of hearty ginger beer and top with seltzer to add a carbonated pop to your palate. Gently mix with a bar spoon and enjoy. 

And no, you can’t substitute Ginger Ale for the Ginger Beer.  A natural, organic fermented brew (versus the aforementioned artificially-flavored and sweetened carbonated ale) is what really gives this buck its kick—a powerful, spicy-like ginger stroke of sweetness on the tongue with a smooth, cool return on the swallow. 

Or try dropping the spritzer by trading the club soda for fresh, unsweetened green iced tea. The tea’s natural palatability will further enhance this buck’s complicated flavor profile while its natural antioxidants and caffeine will add a fat-burning, energy boost to the mixture.  

The Subtly Sweet G&T 

This historic highball doesn’t require much thought or effort in its simple preparation: tightly pack a highball glass with ice, pour in one part gin to two parts tonic, squeeze of fresh lime, sip and enjoy. However, the trick to making this drink “subtly sweet” (and kind of sexy too) is a knowledgeable and sophisticated choice of gin. I’ll make it simple for you: Avoid using the London dry variety (like Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray and Beefeaters) in lieu of sweeter brands, like Hendricks. The heavier citrus notes of sweet gin will masquerade as sugar, balancing out the tonic’s bitter quinine to yield a smooth and mellow refreshment.

Still a little too bitter for your tastes? Infuse the tonic water by muddling the wedge of lime with a slice of orange or strawberry—and P.S., make sure your tonic water doesn’t contain added sugar. No true tonic is made with sugar of any kind.  

The Mezcal Machine Gun

Thick-ish, heavy and dessert-y, this south-of-the-border modification on the classic Revolver Martini, trades the bourbon and coffee liqueur for pungent and powerful mezcal and fresh espresso. The strong notes of peppery spice and smoked agave, combined with Mezcal’s distinctive, robust flavor profile, completely removes any want of sweetness typically provided by the liqueur. 

In a cocktail shaker filled three-quarters full of ice, mix one hefty pour of mezcal with a fresh shot of espresso. Kill the coffee’s natural acidity by tossing in a splash of nondairy creamer (walnut or cashew milk will likely give you the thickest results). Depending on your choice of creamer—sweetened or unsweetened—you may consider adding a teaspoon or two of organic agave syrup as well. 

Shake vigorously, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and enjoy. But be prepared! The kickback on this cocktail will knock you on your ass first sip. 

Jason P. Freeman is a Long Island-based Bartender, with 20 years of industry experience, as well a former internationally accredited lifestyle journalist and managing editor of print and online media. He feels honored and grateful by the invitation to take part in Beer Fit Club’s 2020 series on low-calorie cocktails. Impressed? Send clip requests, love letters, job offers and nudes to jasonpfreeman77@gmail.com.

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