Article by Jason Rogers
Diets are one of those things that everyone loves, and hates, to talk about. Many of us are on one, or have some kind of dietary restrictions for tons of different reasons. A lot of people also love to have a nice drink; a cocktail here or there to take the edge off. And being knowledgeable about drinks, people often come to me with questions or request about drinks they can have while sticking to their diet. It’s tricky trying to balance both of those lives. I wanted to make an article to help people figure out how to drink responsibly (for their health, the rest is on you). It would be super easy to list a bunch of low-carb, sugar-free, healthy cocktails but you could easily look up list after list of these. I figured, as someone who knows craft cocktails, I could give you some techniques and tips on how to make your own drinks suitable to your diet. So, let’s dive right in.
Fat Washing or Using Oils
This technique is useful for those who are on a Keto-based diet. First, what is fat washing? That sounds really weird right? It’s actually a fairly simple way of infusing fat into alcohol. See, most fats, like oils, come in liquid form when they are warm and become hard when cold. Now, if you get a glass jar and add some liquor, let’s say Gin or Rum, then add a healthy oil, like coconut oil, and combine and then chill in the fridge, something magical happens. The fat infuses the alcohol and then rises to the top and becomes solid. Then, you can just make a little hole in the oil and pour your liquor through a strainer. What you are left with is something that has a velvety smooth texture and the flavor of the oil you used (coconut oil infused gin or rum is delicious). You can use this to add texture and flavor to your cocktails. Try Coconut Gin, lime juice, and soda with optional stevia to add sweetness. You can also add oil directly to a cocktail you shake to add flavor and texture. Walnut oil can add a great nutty flavor to a drink, perfect for a wintery drink.
Bitters and Extracts
If you’ve been to a bar worth its salt, you have probably have seen at least one small bottle of bitters. Basically, it’s highly concentrated flavor from different herbs and spices, they come in a ridiculous amount of flavors and a dash or two is all you need in a drink. Food extracts work in a similar way (think vanilla extract). The difference is that an extract focuses on a single flavor, bitters usually are a blend of flavors with a base flavor. If you were a chef, bitters and extracts are like your salt. The great thing is they are made from high proof alcohol and you use tiny amount and get lots of flavor – not calories. Great for most diets out there (if you are worried about gluten you can usually look this up online if it’s an issue).
Another one for Keto dieters is using full fat creams in your drinks. Basically, you have the joy of a desert cocktail minus all the sugar. I like to use coconut cream (coconut is so versatile) in a drink that has cold brew coffee, coconut-fat-washed rum, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Fun fact, cinnamon actually fools the brain into thinking you are having something sweet, an easy sugar hack for drinks. Cream drinks are pretty simple to play around with, I usually stick with ingredients/flavors you use in baking. Just pretend you are a Starbucks barista with a drinking problem.
Teas and Tea Infusions
Teas are really amazing. Not only are they healthy in general, but they work extremely well with liquor. Teas can give a drink a unique flavor and can make something that’s lacking sugars (low to no carb, sugar free diets) way more enjoyable. You can use teas in two ways for a cocktail. First is to make a concentrate, which is just taking a large portion of tea (think 2-3 bags worth) and steeping it in hot water for 20-30mins. This “concentrates” (see what I did there) the flavor of your tea so that you can use less and still get that great taste. Mix some chamomile tea with gin, some grapefruit bitters, and soda and you’ve got a nice floral sipping drink. Next method is to infuse the tea into your liquor. This method is even easier and you can get really creative without adding any extra calories to your drinks. Just take 2-3 of your favorite tea bags in a sealed jar of your preferred spirit. Put it in a cool dark area and shake occasionally. Now, teas actually infuse super fast; I’ve had strong infusions as soon as 1 day depending on the tea and strength of the liquor, so just taste to see where you want it. A great combo is Earl Grey tea and Gin, it’s such a great taste and super easy to enjoy.
Your Drink and Your Diet
Like all things in the diet world, you have to really look at the ingredients you are using. Most times doing something simple is your best bet to stay within your dietary restrictions, but if you want to try things or even make some suggestions to your local bartender, these techniques give you lots of options. I find that when you are focused on your body you also like to experiment with what things you can enjoy. Think of this as another way to do that, and as always within moderation. So next time you are feeling thirsty, enjoy something that’s both good and bad for you.
About The Author:
Jason Rogers, a former bartender and liquor sales consultant from the US. His passion for creativity and hospitality are perfectly matched with cocktails. By working both in craft cocktail bars and with major liquor brands he has built a wealth of knowledge on all things tipsy.
When he’s not dreaming up delectable drinks, he is committed to his other passions, like singing, comedy and creative writing. Jason currently works as an English teacher by day and moonlights as a key figure in many of Xi’an’s popular events. He’s always willing to have a drink and share a conversation.