Happy Labor Day, everyone! Long weekends are so great for like a million reasons, but one of my favorite things about the Labor Day long weekend is that we can all agree that its primary purpose is to celebrate the hard work of our ancestors by drinking. Cheers to that.
I used some of my long weekend to experiment with some, quote, “low carb” martini recipes I discovered. Martinis really have nothing to do with the month of September, but I was feeling the need to mix things up before I get overwhelmed by everything pumpkin spice and we have to head down that road (again – how is it fall AGAIN?).
I’ve encountered a lot of the usual suspects on the menu in my culinary travels lately; well-known drinks that remain strangers to me because they’re filled with a shitload of juice or only good because they’re a mix of some kind. I actually left a restaurant recently (bringing a large group with me) because I was informed, condescendingly and haughtily (and like five times, five different ways, because apparently being a diabetic means I’m also slow to process information/was born yesterday), that “they were a WINE BAR and the only liquor-based cocktails they offer contain a sugary mix and I should have come there for wine but because I want a cocktail and I’m a diabetic, I can basically SUCK IT”. (For anyone looking to avoid this experience, never go to Bitto Bistro)
This made me more determined to find some really common household beverages and whip up a fantastic alternative. And so, I bring you a low-sugar Sex on the Beach martini (suck THIS, Bitto Bistro) and the Watermelon Basil Martini.
Both recipes I’d found for these drinks initially didn’t work for me at all (so I won’t credit their authors here); the measurements on the watermelon basil drink had way too much watermelon juice which put it way high on the glycemic scale (and totally spiked me for like 3 hours) and the “low carb” Sex on the Beach was just, well, gross. I did some tinkering with both to bring down the natural sugar content and try to at least go from gross to halfway decent. I think they both ended up pretty quality, but you’ll have to let me know (and no judgment here on your timing for making Sex on the Beach…promise).
Oh, and a note about flavored vodkas. My Sex on the Beach recipe requires the use of flavored vodkas, to maintain the fruity flavors of the drink without the added juice. I spent some time talking with the knowledgeable folks at the liquor store about which flavored vodkas were best to purchase from a lesser sugar perspective (but that weren’t crazy expensive), and they said go for the flavored vodkas that infuse flavors rather than use sugar to add flavors. The difference was, no big surprise, reflected in the price; by purchasing infused-flavor vodkas rather than the Smirnoff-type choices I probably added about $20 to my total price tag when checking out. But for staying low sugar I think it’s worth the extra money.
Low Sugar Sex on the Beach Martini (7 carbs)
Ingredients (makes two martini glass-sized beverages):
- 2 oz Vodka (best to keep it quality because there’s a lot going on in this drink – I used Tito’s)
- 2 oz Peach vodka
- 6 oz Diet cranberry juice
- 1 tsp Orange Extract
- Sprite Zero (or club soda, if you want a less sweet drink)
- Combine vodka, peach vodka, orange extract and cranberry juice in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well.
- Pour equal amounts of liquid into martini glasses.
- Fill glasses the rest of the way with either Sprite Zero or club soda, depending on your sweetness preferences, and stir.
- Garnish with a slice of lime.
Low Sugar Watermelon Basil Martini (8.5 carbs per serving)
*A note about this one: watermelon is one of my absolute favorite fruits, but it makes my pancreas go nuts. I can manage it in small amounts, but it does make my BG go up and this drink required a couple of units of insulin. If you’re one of those people too, keep that in mind when consuming this drink.
Ingredients (makes makes two martini glass-sized beverages):
- 2 oz watermelon juice from watermelon (I got half a watermelon, cut it into chunks and basically smashed them into a strainer to juice it – it makes a lot of juice so this is a good recipe for a larger group, or if you’re a lush)
- 3.5 oz vodka (best to keep it quality – I used Tito’s)
- 2 oz St Germain
- 3-4 large basil leaves
- Slice of lime
- Club soda
- Sprite Zero
- Small chunk of watermelon and another basil leaf for garnish
- Smash watermelon chunks to obtain juice.
- Combine watermelon juice and basil leaves in cocktail shaker. Try to smash basil leaves to extract flavor without spilling watermelon juice all over counter/floor like I did.
- Add vodka, St Germain and a few ice cubes to cocktail shaker and shake well.
- Pour mixture into martini glasses.
- Top off with club soda and Sprite Zero in equal amounts (I found the drink too sweet just adding Sprite Zero, but that’s personal preference most likely)
- Squeeze in a slice of lime, and stir.
- Garnish with a small chunk of watermelon and a basil leaf.