January is drawing to a close and crowds in the gyms are thinning. But you’ve made a commitment to eating right and exercising regularly. Yay, you! But what about those weekend cocktails or nightly glass or two of wine? Liquid calories may seem less likely to pack on the pounds but did you know liquid calories (especially those found in our favorite cocktails) are some of the biggest waistline offenders? Liquid sugars are processed differently and more slowly in our bodies giving them ample time to transform into fat. So, before you order that second Manhattan, you might consider one of these low-calorie (and sugar) alternatives to keep your New Year's resolution on track.
If you’re a vodka drinker, you need to consider the case for shochu. Billed as the national spirit of Japan, this clear spirit is distilled from barley, rice, sweet potatoes or buckwheat. Unlike vodka, shochu is lower in calories (35 per ounce versus 64,) is 60 proof and packed with flavor. It also contains very little sugar. Shochu’s distinct flavors are determined by the raw material from which it is distilled yet is clean and smooth enough to be sipped on the rocks or with a little soda water. We suggest heading to Shoya Izakaya in Doraville for noodles, sushi and a shochu cocktail. Shoya showcases the spirit on its menu much like you would find it in Japan mixed with fresh fruits and juices, sodas or as a sour. Two of our favorites are the Shochu Hi with oolong or green tea and the Shochu Sour with kiwi and lemon. Both cocktails are between 100 to 180 calories each.
Shoya Izakaya, 6035 Peachtree Road, A101, Doraville. 770-457-5555, shoyaatlanta.com.
Lime Ricky (with gin)
The classic highball gin rickey is a simple and refreshing drink. First appearing at bars in the 1890s and in recipe books in 1903, the gin rickey is an uncomplicated imbibe containing gin, fresh lime juice and soda hovering around 115 calories with very little sugar. While you could order yourself the classic, we love this ode to India at Chai Pani in Decatur with the addition of freshly made raspberry syrup. The Lime Ricky is listed as a non-alcoholic drink but trust us and add Beefeater gin to this lovely libation, and maybe only 100 more calories.
Chai Pani, 406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-378-4030, chaipanidecatur.com.
Buckhead’s True Food prides itself on providing guests with fresh, straightforward dishes where health and wellness take center stage. This mission also extends to the bar with mostly three and four ingredient cocktails. Sip on the vitamin-packed, immune-boosting Chamomile Cooler containing the soothing powers of chamomile infused gin, honey, sliced oranges and a touch of lemon. The calorie count hits just above 230 but the restorative powers of this cocktail cannot be denied.
True Food Kitchen, Lenox Square, 3393 Peachtree Road NE, #3058b, Atlanta. 404-481-2980, truefoodkitchen.com/locations/atlanta/.
My Own Summer
While summer is five months away, this is Atlanta. It gets warm whenever it darn well pleases. Double Zero pays homage to the ATL’s temperate, downright Spring-like Winters with a sour cocktail My Own Summer comprised of gin, housemade pear shrub, lemon, basil and sweetened ever so slightly with agave. The clever use of gin, agave and pear makes this drink both warm and refreshing without going too far over the 200-calorie mark.
Double Zero, Emory Village, 1577 N. Decatur Road, Atlanta. 404-991-3666, doublezeroatl.com.
Champagne and sparkling wine
Believe it or not, a glass of Champagne or sparkling wine contains approximately 24 percent less calories than a glass of still red or white. That's 95 calories for a four-ounce glass of Champagne as compared to 123 calories of four ounces of chardonnay. Prosecco is even lower coming in around 70 calories. But remember those liquid sugars we told you about and how they convert much more slowly and with little regard to your waistline? Choose your bubbles wisely, friends. Look for brut, dry or sec on the label and leave that sweet style for your rad fashion sense.
Like sipping your spirits unadulterated? Here’s the approximate calorie breakdown for a one-ounce pour neat at 80 proof:
Whiskey/bourbon: 70 calories
Scotch: 65 calories
Rum: 65 calories
Tequila: 64 calories
Gin/Vodka: 64 calories
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