Cutting the Calories Out of Cocktails
Happy hour can be healthy hour if you stick with lighter, leaner libations.
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In response to the nation’s newfound focus on health, liquor and restaurant/bar industries are beginning to respond with more healthful alcoholic drink alternatives for those want to imbibe while maintaining their waistlines.
“The popularity of dieting and the trend toward light and lean is finally starting to take off in the alcohol world,” says Ivan Zambrana, beverage manager at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. “People think that if you’re trying to lose weight you have to stop drinking. That’s not really the case. You just have to make wise choices.”
Ironically, beer makers marketing to men were the front-runners with lower-calorie alternatives, with Miller introducing its Lite by Miller in the mid-1970s. In comparison, it took until 2011 for the trend to hit the liquor industry, led by Bethenny Frankel’s Skinnygirl pre-mixed cocktails, followed by its lower-calorie vodkas and wine.
Smirnoff recently introduced its own lower-calorie vodka, Smirnoff Sorbet Light, which has 25 percent fewer calories than other “dessert-inspired vodkas.” Some of the chain restaurants, including Bahama Breeze, are beginning to follow suit by adding sections to their drink menus for “skinny cocktails.”
When Home Grown Café in Newark came out with its new cocktail list in July, it included seven cocktails weighing in at around 200 calories. Beverage director John Holmes says he didn’t specifically set out to create low-cal cocktails, but many of them ended up being so because of his focus on fresh, light ingredients. “Home Grown is known for being healthy and organic, so we wanted to go for healthier drinks, too,” he says. “That’s what people want these days.”