Drink in the New Year: Resolutions for You & Your Cocktails|
Many ring in the New Year with the usual resolutions: to lose weight, work out more, eat better or perform more community service. But since many of you probably raised a glass of Champagne at midnight on January 1, I thought it apropos to come up with some drinking-related resolutions. As you imbibe in 2013, I hope you will find these resolutions not only useful but enjoyable as well.
Resolution No. 1: Drink as Healthy as Possible
While alcohol in itself is not considered healthy (an you should always drink responsibly and in moderation) if you are going to drink you might as well do so in as healthy of a manner as possible. This means staying away from mixers or spirits full of artificial flavors and preservatives (read: anything labeled ”skinny” or neon colored). Instead, opt for fresh ingredients in your cocktail, which tend to contain much-needed vitamins and nutrients. The orange juice in your mimosa will give you vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, vitamin B6 and thiamin. A bloody mary is actually one of the “healthier” cocktails when it comes to nutritional content, since it has tomato juice (which is full of nutritional value); Worchester sauce (surprisingly healthy since it has B6, niacin, antioxidants, and vitamins C and K); horseradish (which has analgesic and antibiotic properties); hot sauce (which can help speed up your metabolism); and salt (replenishes your electrolytes). Not to mention it usually comes with some sort of healthy veggie garnish.
If you are counting calories and are not as concerned with getting nutritional value out of your cocktails, I still encourage you to skip any products labeled “skinny” and instead stick with citrus and a tiny bit of sweetener, like agave nectar. Most liquors clock in at between 90 and 120 calories per 1 1/2 ounce serving. One ounce of lemon or lime juice has less than 10 calories and agave nectar has 60 calories per tablespoon, so you can keep your cocktail under 200 calories by drinking a margarita, Tom Collins, or sidecar using these ingredients. Grapefruit is known as a “fat burning” food (along with blueberries, green tea and others) since it is full of fiber, so you cannot go wrong with a greyhound, which is 1 1/2 ounces of vodka or gin topped with fresh grapefruit juice and an optional salted rim. Grapefruit juice with tequila and soda is called a Paloma and makes a delicious, low calorie cocktail as well. Want to have the fewest calories possible but still keep some flavor? Spice up your vodka or gin and soda with a few dashes of bitters. In addition to the classic Angostura aromatic bitters, various brands of bitters come in all sorts of fun flavors (peach, rhubarb, chocolate, orange, lemon and many, many others) and at 10 calories per 1/2 teaspoon serving, it can provide a lot of flavor without the added calories.
Resolution No. 2: Drink Fresh and Local
If you are going to drink healthy, make sure that the ingredients that go into your cocktail are in season and preferably local. I like to refer to this chart to see what is fresh. Not only do fruits and vegetables taste better when they are in season, but it is also better for the environment if you are sourcing your produce from as close to home as possible (you don’t want that berry flying thousands of miles to get to you).
The same goes for spirits, which can now be found locally all over the country. Small distilleries are popping up from New York (the New York Distilling Company and Greenhook Ginsmiths in Brooklyn and Tuthilltown Distillery and Hillrock Distillery Upstate) to Chicago (North Shore Distillery), Utah (Highwest Distillery), California (St. George Spirits) and Portland, Ore. (boasting House Spirits Distillery, New Deal Distillery and Clear Creek Distillery as well as a variety of breweries). You can buy wine from the North Fork of Long Island and craft beer from almost anywhere. By buying local, you should feel good about not only helping the environment but also about helping out the little guys.
Resolution No. 3: Try Something New
Many of us get stuck in a rut when it comes to both food and drinks and tend to order what we know and like. Switch it up in 2013 and try something else! Your best bet is to tell the bartender what you usually enjoy drinking and see what they recommend. If you like tequila, s/he might suggest mezcal. If you like after-dinner drinks, you may want to try an Italian amaro. If you are a scotch or whiskey drinker, there are literally hundreds of brands out there for you to explore, so don’t be shy about experimenting. And there are literally new brands coming out daily, so give it a go. You might even discover your new favorite drink!
What and Where I’m Drinking in 2013
- Mezcal, the smoky cousin of tequila is great on its own or in cocktails like the Paloma. Del Maguey has a wide range of mezcals from small villages in Mexico that are all very different and unique.
- Lillet Rose on the rocks is a delicious and simple drink that I usually garnish with an orange or grapefruit slice. When I’m not sure if I want wine or a cocktail, this is the drink I go with.
- Chartreuse is not for everyone, but it has a special place in my heart. One of my new favorite bars is Pouring Ribbons in New York’s East Village, which has a long list of vintage chartreuse offerings to sample (from $6 to over $50 a shot).
- My favorite drink is still — and has been for a while — the New York Sour, a strange mix of whiskey and citrus and red wine that for some reason just works. It is a classic cocktail I credit learning from Sam Ross from New York’s Milk & Honey and the soon-to-open Attaboy.
- In addition to Attaboy, I am excited to try both newly opened and existing spots I have not been able to get to yet. New York welcomes The Dead Rabbit in lower Manhattan, which should open in the next few days. I’m headed on the road for work and cannot wait to check out Sanctuaria in St. Louis (they have over 150 drinks on their cocktail menu!). I’m also planning to visit Drink. Well. in Austin, Rob Roy in Seattle, The Aviary in Chicago and Polite Provisions in San Diego.
Do you have any cocktail-themed resolutions this year? Tell us about them in the comments!