Health & Fitness

Summer Cocktails

The Good, The Bad and The Downright Fattening!

On a hot summer’s night, there is nothing quite as cooling and unwinding as enjoying a night out at one of Beirut’s hottest rooftop venues while sipping on an elaborately blended concoction served in an umbrella-garnished glass!  Classic summer cocktails come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, but if you don’t want your belly bulging out of your skimpy bikini the next day, think carefully before you order your next drink.  With so many varieties and delicious drinks to choose from, what is a girl to do? Luckily, Today’s Outlook has a simple guide outlining the best – and worst – drinks to maintain your waistline and recipes to help you reduce the calorie count in some of your favorite cocktails without affecting taste!
 
While most health-conscious people avoid sweets and high-calorie foods like the plague, they will often knock back a few cocktails or drinks without a second thought, fooled by the light and fruity taste of these heavenly concoctions.  When deciding on your drink of choice for the evening, always keep in mind that it is your choice of mixer which is crucial to the final calorie count of your drink.  Not only do spirits, such as vodka, gin, rum and whiskey contain a higher number of calories than beer and wine, but if you add fruit juice, syrups and sodas to the mix, the calorie count keeps growing. There are however, a few simple, and tasty, substitutions that can make a significant difference.  
 
A simple substitution of your mixer to a club soda or diet soda will work wonders for your waistline especially after you have already guzzled down a few.   A gin and tonic, for example, contains about 200 calories, whereas if you order a gin and diet tonic your calorie intake is cut by half. A vodka cranberry, Beirut clubbers’ favorite drink, has over 250 calories!  Since cranberry juice is high in sugar, substituting it with diet cranberry juice will lower the calorie count to only 140.  Once again, a rum and coke, a seemingly harmless drink to the waistline, contains an alarming 240 calories. By simply ordering a rum and diet coke, your drink will only contain 110 calories.  The list of substitutions is endless but easily incorporated into your happy hour and enables you to lower your calorie intake without sacrificing on taste. As for some extra flavor and color, without any calories, add some extra garnish to your cocktail!
 
When it comes to the highest calorie cocktails, unfortunately a few of the favorites are the ones to avoid. The much-loved Mojito, a mixture of lime juice, sugar, mint leaves, rum and soda, checks in at about 242 calories.  Since rum already contains more calories than other liquors, the big dose of sugar that is then added also makes it a hazard to your waistline.   If you absolutely must have your Mojito fix, have one and then move on to another more figure-friendly concoction.  Alternately, ask for a sugarless Mojito; not only will you be surprised at how delicious it tastes, but since no sugar is added, it makes the morning after hangover headache a lot less painful!  The Pina Colada is another unsuspecting summer cocktail which lures us in with its creamy taste but threatens to destroy our figure with a total of 650 calories – that’s more than the calories in a Big Mac! If you are entertaining at home you can use crushed pineapple, fat-free ice cream, sugar-free syrup and artificial sweetener to lower the calories, but if you are wining and dining out, it is best to avoid the original version altogether! In addition, the delicious Margarita served in a salt-rimmed glass made using margarita mix is said to be one of the most unhealthy cocktails available coming in at a shocking 740 calories – almost half the daily calorie intake of an average female. 
 
If you are looking for your next favorite but healthy drink, something a little more exciting than a glass of white wine or a light beer, why not consider a Bloody Mary. Tomato juice, unlike fruit juice, has less sugar content, and therefore fewer calories, bringing the drink to a mere total of 140 calories.  Tomato juice is also full of Vitamin C and lycopene and if you spice it up with extra Tabasco sauce it serves as a way to slow down your drinking – the spicier it is, the less easily you can gulp it down!  Half champagne and half orange juice, the Mimosa is at its best when made with the freshest-squeezed juice imaginable. It is fresh and delicious and only contains 75 calories (per 4oz. champagne glass).  Mimosas make for the most refreshing summer cocktail at any time of the day, be they served with brunch on a hot summer’s day or with dinner on a Friday night. 
 
If you are still a little confused as to what to drink and what not to drink, consider the table below outlining the calorie intake of all your old favorites and perhaps even some soon-to-be new low-calorie favorites, as well as the mixers used to create them!
 
Drinks/Cocktails
 
Long Island Ice Tea: 780 calories 
Margarita: 740 calories
Mojito: 650 calories 
Mai Tai: 350 calories
Vodka Cranberry: 250 calories 
Rum & Coke: 240 calories
Gin/Vodka Tonic: 200 calories
Whiskey Tea Smash: 170 calories 
Beer (one bottle): 150 calories 
Bloody Mary: 140 calories
Vodka diet Cranberry: 140 calories 
Rum & diet Coke: 110 calories
Wine (one glass): 100 calories 
Gin/Vodka diet Tonic: 100 calories
A Shot of Alcohol (80 proof) 1.5 oz: 100 calories 
 
 
Mixers
 
Pineapple Juice 8 oz.: 150 calories 
Apple Juice 8 oz.: 115 calories 
Orange Juice 8 oz.: 110 calories 
Tonic Water/Ginger Ale:  90 calories 
Sugar - 1 tablespoon: 48 calories 
Tomato Juice 8 oz.: 41 calories  
Diet Cranberry 8 oz.: 40 calories  
Lemon/Lime Juice, 1 tablespoon: 10 calories 
Diet Tonic Water 8 oz.: 0 calories 
Diet Soda 8 oz.: 0 calories 
Unsweetened Tea: 0 calories 
Club Soda 8 oz.: 0 calories 
 
 
 
 
If you are entertaining at home, try mixing up your own delicious low-calorie cocktails.  Here are a few to get you started. 
 
Caipirinha
1 packet Splenda
1 tablespoon water
1 fresh lime
1 ½ oz white rum
glass of ice cubes
Let the lime sit at room temperature then cut into quarters, and put in cocktail shaker, along with Splenda and water. Mash lime with the back of a wooden spoon and mix until dissolved into mush. Add rum and ice cubes, shake well. Pour into glass.
 
 
 
Mojito
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1 packet Splenda
4-5 fresh mint leaves
1 ½ oz light rum
2 oz club soda
glass of ice cubes
Pour lime juice into glass. Add mint and Splenda, stir until dissolved. Add rum and ice cubes, followed by club soda. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.
 
 
 
Margarita
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1 ½ oz low-calorie triple sec
2 oz tequila
slice of lime
kosher salt
glass of ice cubes
Add lime juice, triple sec, tequila, and ice to cocktail shaker. Shake well for a slow count of 10. Rub lime along outside rim of glass, then roll in kosher salt, before pouring mixed margarita into glass. Garnish with a fresh slice of lime.
 
 
 
Long Island Iced Tea
1/3 oz vodka
1/3 oz rum
1/3 oz gin
1/3 oz tequila
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
2 packets Splenda
2 Tbsp water
diet cola
fresh slice lemon
tall glass of ice
Dissolve Splenda in water. Add mixture to cocktail shaker, along with all liquors and lemon juice. Shake well. Pour into a tall cocktail glass filled with ice, add diet cola until filled. Garnish with fresh slice of lemon.
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