Your cocktail guide to the good, the bad and the (very) ugly...
Classic cocktails come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes, from simple sangrias to elaborate blended concoctions in umbrella-garnished glasses.
With so many choices, what's a health-conscious drinker supposed to do? Fear not, because the following guide will show you the way.
The rules are simple: choose quality spirits, fresh fruit juices and lower kilojoules mixers. Avoid artificially flavoured liquors, spirits made from corn syrup and synthetic products such as grenadine all of these are chock full of sugars.
These are lower in kilojoules, contain less sugar and can be consumed without worrying as much about how bloated you'll feel in your cossie the next morning:
- Sangria. Traditional sangria is made by combining wine, brandy and fruit. Served cold, this refreshing cocktail never gets old, and the fresh fruit adds a healthy dose of vitamins and fibre. Opt for the red variety, which has the added benefit of artery-protecting flavonoids.
- The classic martini. James Bond knew what he was doing all those years. They're 100 percent liquor, which means they can be lower in kilojoules. If you're going to choose flavoured vodka, look for one that doesn't add sugar.
- Quality liquors plus "smart mixers". If you're a mixed-drink purist who enjoys classic mixed drinks (rum and coke, vodka tonic, etc), there are several tricks you can use to cut the kilojoules. Try using Diet Coke, diet tonic or sparkling water in lieu of your usual mixer.
These pack a mightier kilojoule punch but add other nutrients to the mix and they can still be enjoyed in moderation:
- The margarita. A summertime staple, the tequila-based margarita is full of sugar about 800 kilojoules worth (and that's before you add the tequila)! It's hard to beat this classic, so enjoy it in moderation. The salted rim doesn't affect kilojoule intake, so have some if you enjoy it, but be mindful that it can aid in water retention.
- The mojito. Equally high in sugar, the stylish mojito is another cocktail best enjoyed in moderation. The muddled sugar and sweet rum are sure to set you back a few sit-ups, but the refreshing minty zing is worth the hit. Have one or two, and then switch to something else.
- The bloody Mary. Loaded with vitamin A and vitamin C, the enduring bloody Mary offers a spicy alternative to your average summer cocktail. When garnished properly, this drink crosses the line into salad territory. Enjoy this spicy treat, but beware of the salt content.
These are the drinks you should avoid at all costs:
- The Long Island iced tea. Rum, gin, vodka, tequila, triple sec, sour mix and a splash of cola join forces to create this high-kilojoule powerhouse drink estimated at 1500 kilojoules per serving. Plus, epic hangovers. Avoid.
- The mudslide. With a name like "mudslide" you know if must be bad. A traditional mudslide contains three main ingredients: coffee liqueur, Irish cream and vodka, not to mention the ice cream that's often incorporated. Rule of thumb: Any cocktail that contains dairy is a recipe for disaster. These cocktails are full of unnecessary fats and should be avoided.
- The chocotini (aka the chocolate martini). Red alert. This trendy drink has worked its way onto a lot of menus lately. There are many variations on the recipe, but your typical chocotini contains most (or all) of the following ingredients: crème de cacoa, Kahlua, triple sec, vodka and maraschino cherries. Creamy, kilojoule madness. Skip to the next item on the bar menu, quickly!
High temperatures and backyard fun make it easier to knock back glass after glass of your favourite cocktail. The recipe for smart summer drinking is informed choices with a splash of moderation. Stick to the classics, avoid the "ugly" cocktails, and you'll be ahead of the game.
Here's one of our favourite cocktail recipes: sparkling mint and lime caprioska.
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