8 tips to stay sugar-free/low sugar while drinking out

People, I’ve said and I’ll keep saying – you are not stuck with vodka sodas for the rest of your life! There’s so much to try out there; don’t tell yourself you are stuck with stuff that’s boring because it’s just not true.

I’m currently working with Party Like a Diabetic on a diabetic-friendly happy hour menu (ohhhh yesssss – coming soon!), and spent some time thinking about and aggregating a list of 8 tips on how to drink ALL OF THE THINGS while you’re out. A lot of these might sound familiar if you’ve read prior posts, but I have never really written about them all at once. Our goal: Avoid liquid sugar (unnecessary calories plus hard for a dead pancreas to manage) without sacrificing taste or quality of beverages.

So, without further ado – 8 tips to stay sugar free/low sugar while you’re out and about.

Want to take this with you? Here’s the quick version:

  1. Try to stick with natural, whole ingredients in your drinks and avoid mixers whenever possible.
  2. Look for beverages with fewer ingredients and with sparkling water or citrus bases.
  3. Identify sugary ingredients you can swap out or cut entirely and replace with the artificial sweetener of your choice – such as simple syrup, agave, etc.
  4. For the times when cutting a sugary ingredient leaves you with a tart and/or boring drink, stay prepared by bringing your own alternate sweeteners.
  5. Always ask the waiter/waitress/bartender if all of the ingredients listed on the menu are the sum total of what is in the drink to avoid nasty surprises.
  6. If you’d like to drink wine: stay with the dry.
  7. If you’d like to drink beer: stay light and aley.
  8. If you’re somewhere with limited drink options/capabilities, like a club, go old school with a diet & rum/whiskey, or a vodka soda water (yep) – they’re hard to screw up.

And, here’s the more detailed version.

  1. Try to stick with natural, whole ingredients in your drinks. In general, unflavored silver rum, silver tequila, whiskey/bourbon and vodka will have very little added sugar. However, the cheaper, flavored versions of those alcohols almost always have a lot of added sugar. Try to avoid mixers whenever possible; some restaurants or clubs will use mixes or mixers to shorten the amount of time required to make a drink, and mixers usually have an enormous amount of sugar and unnecessary calories. Let’s take a mojito for example: A mojito at BJ’s Brewery, mix included, has 38g of sugar, 41 carbs, and is about 300 calories. A basic mojito made with silver rum, soda water, mint, lime and an artificial sweetener has about 1g sugar, 0 carbs, and is 100 calories (and won’t give you a horrible hangover).
  2. Look for beverages with fewer ingredients and with sparkling water or citrus bases, as opposed to drinks that are built around a juice or soda (like tonic or ginger beer). It is easier to find ingredients in the former to swap out to avoid sugar in drinks without ruining the integrity of the drink. Most bars and restaurants unfortunately don’t offer diet versions of common soda bases like tonic and ginger beer, although it never hurts to ask.
  3. Identify sugary ingredients you can swap out or cut entirely, such as simple syrup, agave, etc. I have found that nine times out of ten, simple syrup is just not necessary to enhance the flavor of a beverage; it just makes it super sweet. A lot of beverages stand just fine on their own, or they’re naturally sweetened with a little fruit or a small amount of a flavored liqueur. When you swap a soda base for sparkling water; you might lose the sweetening agent from the soda so replacing it with an artificial sweetener might be a good idea if you want.
  4. For the times when cutting a sugary ingredient leaves you with a tart and/or boring drink, stay prepared with your own alternate sweeteners. Restaurants will have them, but there’s no guarantee a bar or club will, so just pack a couple in your wallet or purse. I like to carry liquid Stevia with me when I travel, especially, because it mixes in well with both hot and cold beverages.
  5. Carefully review drink options on menu and their listed ingredients. When you find one you are interested in, always ask the waiter/waitress/bartender if all of the ingredients listed are the sum total of what is in the drink. Sometimes they leave basic but impactful (to you) ingredients off their descriptions, such as the addition of simple syrup. This will help you avoid a nasty surprise (like an “oh shit my BG is 300 for no reason” surprise) and you can then ask them to leave it out of your drink.
  6. If you’d like to drink wine: Dry red or white wines are your best bet because they have the least residual sugar. I’m noticing a lot of mixed drinks are starting to include wines such as rosés, prosecco, and champagne; be careful with those because they can be misleadingly sugary (even if they don’t taste sweet).
  7. If you’d like to drink beer: Obviously, the light beers have less carbs than a standard beer. If you’re so discerning as to want to avoid light beers, in general the ales, blondes and wheats appear to be slightly lower in carbs – no surprise there. For more detail on this, see our Aug post on beer.
  8. If you’re somewhere where your options are extremely limited (like a club): Some people like vodka & soda water – that’s cool if you like straight vodka. I prefer a diet coke & (insert liquor of choice, such as rum or whiskey). Those are pretty hard to screw up, no matter how busy the place is. If someone seems nice, I ask for a few limes – makes it taste fancier, even though it’s not.
beers

Guest Post: It’s time to talk beer

Ya’ll I’m super excited to have our first GUEST POST on the blog. Today, I officially announce my partnership with Party Like a Diabetic (PLAD), managed by Caitlin Grenier, who wrote the below post. PLAD and SFM was a rather immediate match made in heaven because we both hold a firm belief that anyone can live their best life even with a chronic disease. PLAD and Middle Tennessee State University’s (MTSU) Medical Nutrition Therapy II Class have been providing carb counts for my recipes and will be doing so moving forward. I’m like the real shit now!

In addition to PLAD supporting diabetes health coaching (a necessity for us all, IMO), they are going national to partner with local restaurants, breweries, bars, and event centers to provide carb counts so that people with diabetes can feel more empowered while dining and drinking out.

I haven’t talked much about beer because I frankly don’t like it. Luckily, Caitlin loves beer and you can look forward to more beer-focused posts from her in the future.

Like, we’ve really got you covered at this point. Cheers.

*****

On beer and diabetes
by Caitlin Grenier (Party Like a Diabetic)

I love beer. Actually, let me rephrase that, I love craft beer. Ever since I was old enough to enjoy (and appreciate) these libations, I have made it a point to explore the local scene when I visit new places. In fact, whenever I go on family vacations we plan our days around hikes followed by brewery tours and tastings. However, when I was diagnosed with late onset type 1 diabetes in 2013, I thought that I would never be able to enjoy a cold brewski again. I am glad to say that is not the case by any means!

I have to admit that I was hesitant to start drinking beer after my diagnosis. I was under the impression that I was destined for vodka sodas, diet tonic (ugh), or water. I would sit there jealously, trying only mildly to hide my emotions, eyeing my sister as she would sip on a “Panty Peeler” from Midnight Sun Brewery or my brother-in-law as he sampled a flight of IPA’s (one of my favorites). I was of the mindset that I was restricted now that I had diabetes and that I would be a “bad diabetic” if I ventured out too much. I don’t remember the exact moment it happened but I do know that I finally had my wake up call that just because I had diabetes didn’t mean that I could not live life to the absolute fullest and enjoy what I used to prior to diagnosis, especially beer!

After my shift, I began to experiment, aka sample, to see how different beers affected my blood sugars (hey, someone has to do it). I slowly started introducing different types of beer to determine which ones had the least affect on my levels while still providing the most flavor (gone are the days of college….).  As with anything in diabetes land, some times it worked out and other times I was not even close. I had to figure out what worked best for me in regards to pre-bolusing, stacking my insulin due to having more than one, and how to navigate flights (tip: if having a wide range of samples take the average of all of them and dose for a pint).

Turns out for me IPA’s and Belgian tripels do the trick. As with wine and cocktails, everyone has their own preference.  From the lighter crisper taste of kolschs and hefeweizens to the bolder creamier stouts and porters, there is a wide array of beers and with that a wide range of correlated carbohydrate counts. Luckily, from the creation of Party Like A Diabetic, which ironically happened at a brewery with my sister, I have been able to partner with numerous craft breweries in 6 states to get carb counts. Even though every brewery has their own approach to flavor profiles, each class of beer typically has a consistent range of carbohydrates.

I have created a quick reference sheet of the average carbohydrate counts so when you are ready to enjoy a nice cold one, the guesswork is not a factor (please note the following counts are the average of different breweries based on beer style, so they may not be exact).

For a 12 oz beverage:
American Pale Ale: 15 g
American IPA: 17 g
Stout: 18 g
Porter: 23 g
Brown Ale: 13 g
Amber or Red Ale: 16 g
American Wheat or Hefeweizen: 12 g
Belgian Pale, Dubbel, Tripel, or Quadrupel: 16 g
Saison and Farmhouse Ale: 12 g
Kolsch, Blonde, and Pilsner: 10 g

For more counts at local breweries check out www.partylikeadiabetic.co or @partylikeadiabetic

If you have a favorite spot that you would like please email me at partylikeadiabetic@gmail.com

So simple even yo momma can make it: The Low Carb Strawberry Daquiri

I’m sorry. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to use “yo momma” in a sentence for at least 20 years, and it was just time. It’s really nothing personal.

Ever since I saw my neighbor sucking down a daiquiri in Mexico last winter, I’ve had a craving for an icy blended beverage. I didn’t know how they were made, but assumed it was some kind of sugary mix so I never bothered to ask them to make me one. But I figured it was possible to come up with some options that didn’t suck, and it’s still summer (PLEASE tell the people who are already going psycho over pumpkin spice shit this information) so it was totally time to make this happen.

I was expecting that a low-sugar/carb daiquiri recipe was going to be a complicated process, but good news for all you people who can’t be bothered to make complicated things or even really use your kitchen utensils… it’s easy as hell and can be made very quickly. The scary part is that it went down almost as fast, but that’s a story for another day.

Oh and by the way – this can be made with any fruit of your preference. I think some fruits, like strawberries, are a little meatier and hold together better in a blender – but it’s really up to you. Fresh or frozen will work, but I do prefer fresh fruit – it’s more flavorful and adds a fresh note to the drink (if you do use frozen, you may want to consider the additional ice content that will be in frozen produce).

The strawberry daiquiri

Every good daiquiri must have an umbrella and be drank (drunk? really?) in the sun.

Low-carb Strawberri Daiquiri (est. 5 carb)

Ingredients (makes one beverage, so double/triple/etc. for multiples):

  • 1.5 oz light rum
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau (or a similar orange liqueur) – if you don’t want to add liqueur, use orange extract!
  • 6 medium sized strawberries, stems removed (this will pretty much work with any fresh or frozen fruit)
  • 1/2 fresh lime, squeezed
  • Liquid Stevia
  • Enough ice to fill your receptacle (mug, martini glass, bucket… whatever) 2/3 full

Directions:

  • In a small bowl, add rum, Cointreau, lime juice, and Stevia, and mix well. Put aside.
  • Identify what receptacle you plan to use for your beverage(s). Measure 2/3 full of ice, then pour ice into blender.
  • Pour liquid mixture over ice in blender.
  • Add about 1/4 cup of water.
  • Make sure lid is securely on blender (no, seriously) and blend at highest speed available until everything looks well blended.
  • Pour into receptacle, add an umbrella and fancy straw, and enjoy.

Going back to my roots with Sweet Tea Vodka

Ya’ll may have noticed that I say “ya’ll” sometimes. There are several reasons for this, but the primary one is that I grew up in the south (duh?).

But, it’s more nuanced than that. I’m a special combination of north east coast asshole (I come by this honestly, since the rest of my family is from there and basically just funneled it down through the generations) AND southern passive aggression – but aside from that, all I really have to show for my first 20 years in the south (other than the passive aggression), is an obsession with sweet tea and liberal use of “ya’ll.”

Unfortunately, my obsession with sweet tea tragically went down the shitter with my pancreas. I still mourn sometimes when I pass a Cracker Barrel or Chik-Fil-A (cause those are the only places in Colorado that sell it, FYI), and have to find another way to satisfy my desire to drink a bucket of sugar (usually Coke Zero does the trick in a pinch, not that I’m encouraging drinking diet Coke products or a bucket of sugar).

So when a coworker recently challenged me to tackle Sweet Tea Vodka, I thought, YA’LL, BRING IT ON.

Sweet Tea Vodka is best known for being purchased (and often can be drunk) as-is; a lot of folks know the brand Firefly, and there’s a couple of moonshine versions out there, too. It kinda doesn’t matter what form they come in… they’re REALLY FUCKING GOOD. But, dear diabetic friends, you know why? Cause they have a bucket of sugar in them, just like their namesake. And this is where our story turns a corner.

Some online research reveals that there are actually a few different ways to make this beverage, providing some flexibility in how one can infuse the tea flavor and sweeten the drink. The two core options are to: (1) infuse the tea flavor into the vodka itself, and then use it in different bases to mix up your flavors, or (2) make “sweet” tea, and then add vodka. So, I tried both.  I also tried a few different varieties of tea, as well as some low-sugar lemon-flavored bases, to see what created the best flavor combination. I have an opinion about what tasted the best for me, but you’ll have to try for yourself.


Tea-infused vodka

Vodka receiving its tea infusion

Option 1: Make Tea-infused Vodka

I plan to cover vodka infusions in a near-term post, so I’m not going to belabor the concept now. But, infusing vodka turns out to be so fucking simple I’m amazed more people don’t do this.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups vodka (suggest you go for the good stuff, like along the Tito’s brand line of quality).
  • 3-4 tea bags (I used Luzianne decaf iced tea, but the brand/flavor is really up to you. Based on everything I read, going for a cold-brew style works best, and I also went for a decaf tea because I tend to drink in the latter part of the day and prefer not to be up all night as a result). If you’re using family size tea bags, 3 is probably plenty.
  • Mason jar, or sealable glass container that keeps out air.

Directions

  • Put vodka and tea bags into glass jar and seal for 1.5 hours (it’s probably best if you time it, as it will just get intense to the point of bitter if left too long).
  • Stir once or twice if desired to ensure thorough mixing.
  • Remove bags (ok to gently squeeze out liquid from bags to make sure you got it all).
  • That’s literally it. Now you have tea-infused vodka.

 

Option 2: Make “Sweet” Tea (then add vodka)

There’s a right way to make sweet tea, according to every recipe I read. The tricks are to add your sweetener while steeping your tea (because using a simple syrup after the fact might water it down, so the tea IS the simple syrup), and adding a pinch of baking soda to the tea mixture to make it smoother (insert head exploding emoji here).

Ingredients

  • 4 cups distilled water
  • ~4 teabags (your call on how dark you want it to be, but 4 was the magic number for me)(and, like the note above… I used Luzianne decaf iced tea, but the brand/flavor is really up to you. Based on everything I read, going for a cold-brew style works best, and I also went for a decaf tea because I tend to drink in the latter part of the day and prefer not to be up all night as a result)
  • 1/2 cup Stevia crystals (use more or less depending on your preference for sweetness, but this seemed like a good medium ground for me). A note about this… if you decide to use a flavored tea, you may want to use less Stevia because it is likely already sweeter to begin with. This may require some experimentation.

Directions

  • Bring water to a boil in a pot
  • Stir in Stevia crystals and keep stirring until they have thoroughly dissolved
  • Take pot off the heat
  • Drop in your 4 tea bags (I debated whether it was necessary to point out that if they have wrappers on them, you should remove the wrappers first… and then remembered that my biggest issue as a diabetic is forgetting whether I’ve taken insulin 30 seconds after I take it, so here’s your reminder) and steep for approximately 5 minutes
  • Remove tea bags, squeezing them lightly to get liquid contents out if you’d like
  • Add a pinch of baking soda and stir in well
  • Pour into a pitcher or container to cool, then refrigerate


The "Sweet" Tea Vodka-ito

The “Sweet” Tea Vodka-ito

In Which to Use Your Tea-infused Vodka: The “Sweet” Tea Vodka-ito (~3 carbs)

This is the best recipe I could find that takes advantage of the tea-infused vodka concept. It’s a little Arnold Palmer meets boozy but classy lady… never mind.

I’ll note that I did not create this concept from scratch myself; it’s based off an existing recipe I tweaked a little to make lower sugar.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz tea-infused vodka (use a nice vodka for this; none of that Smirnoff shit)
  • 4 oz Minutemaid Light Lemonade
  • Quarter of a fresh lemon
  • 4-5 pieces of fresh mint
  • Seltzer water
  • Liquid Stevia
  • Ice
  • A mason jar to put this in, because it would be sacrilegious if you drank this out of anything else

Directions

  • Squeeze lemon into your mason jar, and add the mint leaves. Add a dash of liquid Stevia. Mash all three together, ideally with a masher or the bottom of a spoon or something if you don’t have a masher.
  • Add vodka and lemonade and mix well.
  • Add ice to fill glass.
  • Top any remaining space with seltzer water.

 

In Which You Use Your “Sweet” Tea, Three Alcoholic Ways (carb count will vary depending on mixer)

There’s frankly like 100+ ways you can use your sweet tea as a base for a mixed beverage, but this specific post is about vodka so I’ll stay focused and get you started with some ideas.

Ingredients:

  • “Sweet” tea
  • 1.5 oz vodka (again, use the good stuff here)
  • Quarter of a fresh lemon
  • Ice
  • A mason jar to put this in, because it would be sacrilegious if you drank this out of anything else
  • Options for a flavored ingredient that pair nicely with tea:
    • Peach bitters
    • Another 0.5 oz of blueberry-infused vodka (I used my own infused vodka, but there are lots of options out there)
    • Pomegranate liqueur (I like the Pama brand)

Directions:

  • Fill a mason jar with ice. No, a MASON JAR. Seriously, nothing else will do.
  • Pour “sweet” tea mixture into glass until it is about 2/3 full
  • Add vodka
  • Squeeze in the quarter lemon
  • Add your flavor choice.
  • Mix well. If glass is not completely full, add more tea until full.
  • Drink on a porch somewhere with the sound of grasshoppers and peeper frogs.
Special made vodka soda water from Whistling Hare

Review Volume 2: Diabetics Doing Distilleries Around Denver

This post is a continuation of the first one on this topic, because I like distilleries (so shut up). The only reason there isn’t a volume 3 coming (at least, right now) is because I’ve been so fucking busy I haven’t even had time to blog, much less go take Instagram-able pictures of drinks in various places (dammit).

The prior post mainly covered distilleries in Denver proper, but I don’t actually live in Denver proper, so I’ve also visited several in towns and suburbs closer to where I live, north of Denver. Some (most) of them were GREAT, and a couple were quite open to discussing some low-sugar options, so I’m excited to share them with you.

Mad Rabbit Distillery (Broomfield)

Cocktail purchased: Cucumber Fizz (Cucumber-infused vodka)
Thoughts: I love Mad Rabbit, because it’s close, comfortable/laid back, reasonably priced, and has great drinks. Further, during our first visit one of the bartenders patiently explained how to infuse vodka with various flavors (because I’m obsessed with their cilantro- and cucumber vodka options), which has become the premise for a near-term post on vodka infusions, so stay tuned for that (hint… it’s so fucking easy I don’t understand how I didn’t know how to do this). During my second visit, I purchased their vodka (I haven’t actually purchased a lot of stuff during my distillery visits, so this is saying a lot).
I also absolutely have to give Mad Rabbit extra kudos because Paul (owner) recently donated a nice bottle of bourbon for the 2019 JDRF Rocky Mountain Gala… THANK YOU Paul!!!
Overall: The combination of good beverages, proximity, atmosphere and kindness of owner/staff gives this one a 5 out of 5.

Whistling Hare Distillery (Broomfield)

Special made vodka soda water from Whistling Hare

Special made vodka soda water from Whistling Hare

Cocktail purchased: At the time of my visit, there was nothing on the menu that could be converted to low sugar without ruining the drink — so the bartender made me… wait for it… a vodka soda water. But it was a good one (and the options have since changed) (vodka)
Thoughts: I really liked this place. It was (also) super laid back, and the bartenders were friendly and accommodating. We ended up conversing with folks from other tables multiple times because everyone there was quite friendly.  The bartender went out of his way to ask me several questions about diabetes, and then make me a special drink – and then came by our table twice to make sure it was ok (it was). In addition to the drinks I had, I also tried their coffee liqueur and it was excellent (honestly, whoever thought of creating a coffee flavored liqueur should be given their own holiday). Will definitely go back.
Overall: I’m giving it a 4.5 out of 5 due to the lack of low sugar options on the menu, but totally willing to give it a 5 on a return visit.

12 Point (now On Point) Distillery (Lafayette)

Cocktail purchased: Blackberry Mojito (blackberry vodka) and Money Penny (raspberry vodka)
Thoughts: This is the first distillery I’d ever been to, and it made me want to go to distilleries everywhere (well, obviously). They had a shitload of drink options even I could choose from, owing to their wide selection of flavored liquors. The staff there were extraordinarily friendly and accommodating – to the point that when I returned several weeks later for a second visit, Chloe (I even remember her name!) remembered me AND my dead pancreas AND the drink I’d ordered and asked if I wanted her to make it again. HELLO what else does one need?!
My only issue with this one is that they seem to close randomly with no warning and not, as far as we can tell, with any deference to their hours of operation. I heard from a friend that she tried to go one eve and they were closed, and then I had the same experience a couple of weeks later (which is annoying, because there aren’t other options really close by to relocate to). Maybe the name change is a sign that this is no longer an issue? Time will tell.
Overall: 4.5 for being awesome/great service, but randomly closed in an inconvenient way.

Old Elk Distillery (Fort Collins)

Trying Bourbon Creams

Trying Bourbon Creams

Cocktail purchased: Blackberry smash (bourbon). Also tasted their bourbon creams (regular and peppermint), which were to DIE for.
Thoughts: Going to Old Elk made me feel fancy and hipster (totally what I was going for, obvs). They are known for their bourbon and IMO, nailed the according vibe appropriately (modern lodge-y). The decor was really well done, and the drinks were beautiful. I had a great chat with our server about low sugar beverages, which is when she brought tasters of their bourbon creams to try. They were like a quality version of Bailey’s Irish Cream (minus the insane amount of sugar and bad aftertaste), and had no added sugar. I’m planning to get the peppermint when the holidays roll around again. I don’t get up to the Fort as often as I’d like, but will definitely be returning.
Overall: Solid 5 out of 5.

Vapor Distillery (Boulder)

Cocktail purchased: Something vodka and fruit-based (don’t remember and not on web site)
Thoughts: I’ve been to Vapor twice, and the first time was pretty ok but the second was a total disaster, and that really colors any memories I have of this distillery. Vapor has more of a brewery-type atmosphere; kinda cavernous, big garage doors, lots of college types, etc. I remember the service being reasonably meh during our first visit, but it was ok enough to go back. On our return visit, the woman serving at the bar was so drunk she couldn’t get the liquor (or anything else) in the glass, and was pouring it all over the bar, herself and the floor. While attempting to make drinks (emphasis on “attempting”) she alternately told us she loved us, then disliked us immensely. It was, all told, a complete shit show. We wanted a damn drink and didn’t particularly want to relocate, so we stuck it out, but I won’t be returning. I can’t remember anything about my drink, which isn’t a good sign either.
Overall: No. Just no.

Archetype's "New Fangled," served with smoked vodka, tea syrup, bitters and a jerky topping.

Review: Diabetics Doing Distilleries Around Denver

That title is pretty fucking witty, isn’t it? I’ve been just waiting for the opportune moment to let it fly.

And really, I could have held on to it for a lot longer because it seems like every week there’s a new distillery opening around here, but that just means I get to do a second (actually at this point, maybe even third) installment. Life is rough.

But, let’s talk about breweries for a second (I promise, it’s relevant). Have you noticed they’re sorta all the same — they’re filled with lots of bros with handlebar moustaches and/or well-groomed beards, who just left their job working for fill-in-the-blank tech company (or maybe they’ve been “working remotely” there all day). Some are clean, some are not, but in general they all offer a seat at a picnic table, a game of cornhole, and some loud company from whoever had one too many. There’s no food (or there’s some fried shit, maybe), and of course you can also order pizza or tacos from whatever food truck is perma-parked out front.

My apologies if you are super into breweries and are not a bro. I am 100% generalizing as well as stereotyping, and I will totally own that.  But, I hope we can at least agree that what breweries all truly have in common (and this is not generalizing) is the massive carb count. Despite the fact that I live in a professed brewery capitol state, it’s not my scene, and IMO is in no way #bolusworthy (I wish I could say I coined this hashtag, but it was donated for use by another T1D).

This makes the recent proliferation of distilleries excellent news for me. Cocktail snobs, unite!

There are several reasons I’ve really enjoyed my recent distillery visits:

  1. It seems that many places have really carefully put time and energy into curating a particular look and feel for their space, which has created a more holistic experience than just having a drink (like a local coffee shop with an edge – hah);
  2. I’ve found both the distillers (when I met them) and the bartenders to in general be super knowledgeable about their spirits and the flavors in their drinks and I’ve learned a considerable amount from chatting with them;
  3. On several occasions when I mentioned I was a member of the dead pancreas club, they proactively engaged in conversation with me, asking questions, making suggestions for good drink options, and in a couple of cases coming back with ideas for how to develop a particular flavor profile to replace a sugary ingredient. Like a good barista, many bartenders consider themselves artists – in weaving flavors together to create a new color of drink. This is all great news for us, because it pretty much opens up a world of possibility for what can be created. I’ve already gathered several new ideas from my visits and can’t wait to share them.

So without further ado and in no particular order, here is my review of four distilleries in or around the Denver area, with a couple of special shout-outs for some that showed up in extraordinary ways.

Mythology Distillery (LoHi, Denver)

Cocktail purchased: Your Grandfather’s Old Fashioned (whiskey)
Thoughts: Mythology was super busy when we arrived there, late afternoon, so I did not have an opportunity to engage with anyone working. I will say that when I tried to ask the bartender to come up with something lower sugar than the menu options they had available (because there wasn’t much available that was lower sugar), she was not enthused by my request and that’s how I ended up with an old fashioned. Le sigh. We did get a surprise visit by the owner toward the end (I think he was just making the rounds; they had opened very recently) but it was kind of too late by that point.
Overall: The space was beautiful, but I was disappointed by the service and my drink. Meh out of 5.

Archetype Distillery (South Broadway, Denver)

Archetype's "New Fangled," served with smoked vodka, tea syrup, bitters and a jerky topping.

Archetype’s “New Fangled,” served with smoked vodka, tea syrup, bitters and a jerky topping.

Cocktail purchased: New Fangled (smoked vodka)
Thoughts: Archetype is beautiful. It’s got a marbled counter that is lit from underneath, and everything was very swanky/clean/modern. We happened to be the only people there for almost our entire visit, and the bartender was super friendly and knowledgeable. I of course had to know how the hell you “smoke” vodka, so she described some of the process for infusing the flavor. My friend’s drink was served literally smoking via a little bit of dry ice (I tried to get a picture but missed my opportunity). Most of their drinks are served with special touches (my drink came with a piece of artistic-looking turkey jerky, for example).
Overall: Great location (perfect addition to the hipster south Broadway neighborhood), great service, good knowledge. Would have stayed longer but both of us were starving. 5 out of 5.

The Block Distillery (RiNo, Denver)

Cocktail purchased: Some kind of strawberry old fashioned (because we couldn’t drink anything off their menu and the bartender wasn’t feeling especially creative) (whiskey)
Thoughts: I suspect The Block didn’t show up the way they could have the day we were there. We happened to get a meh bartender who wasn’t really feeling up to the challenge of making something lower sugar, and shortly after we arrived it got SUPER crowded (and a tad frat-tastic, I might add). The acoustics were bad, so we shouted at each other a majority of the time and decided our best option was to leave.
Overall: It wasn’t bad, but nothing really remarkable. 3 out of 5.

Ironton Distillery (RiNo, Denver)

Some of the wall art at Ironton. I mean, who couldn't relate to a distillery with THIS on their wall??

Some of the wall art at Ironton. I mean, who couldn’t relate to a distillery with THIS on their wall??

Cocktail purchased: Minty Julep (bourbon)
Thoughts: I frankly could have stayed at Ironton all night. It was comfortable, well laid out, and the bartenders were friendly and knowledgeable, and had some great suggestions for low-sugar alternative ingredients. The designer had taken all my favorite things about Colorado (mountain theme, different woods and metals, industrial rustic, etc.) and woven furnishings and decorations throughout the space. There is an art gallery with rotating themes that is attached; you can purchase your drink and walk through at your leisure. They have a beautiful patio with a mountain view, which we were not able to enjoy due to the rain (wtf?) the night we visited. Our drinks were excellent. And they have several really interesting liqueurs to try; I tried the Cacao flavor, which was very chocolatey in a legit, not overwhelming or too-sweet way. I’ll likely go back and purchase some at some point and am already pondering what kind of fun drinks I can make with cacao (because hello, chocolate).
Overall: Easily one of my favorite places in Denver. I’ll become a regular. 6 out of 5.

Stay tuned for installment 2!

A smattering of what's currently in my fridge...

A short story of tragic proportions and some diabetic drink base hacks for the non-creatives

Last night, I met a friend for dinner and drinks at a new restaurant in Arvada (a small town/suburb just west of Denver, for you non-Coloradans). The restaurant was famed for its extraordinarily long list of whiskies available for tasting and mixing (like, over a hundred), knowledgeable bartenders and hipster vibe. I was excited to put this possible new favorite spot to the D-test.

Upon arrival, I discovered the mixed drink options were all high sugar, and the only possible swaps that could happen (that wouldn’t nix the entire drink) were in the “old-fashioned” type of drinks…basically the ones that were straight up alcohol with just a hint of flavor from a second liqueur. Sigh. This meant I was going to have to rely on the restaurant to make me something that wasn’t on the menu. But, I remained hopeful because again, this place HAD to have some experienced bartenders who could toss a tasty, low-sugar something together.  Anyone who works somewhere with over 100 whiskies had to know SOMETHING about mixing, right? When I discussed this with our waitress, she pointed out that this was possible AND that one of the bartenders was a Type 1! Score! Off she went to ask him to put something together for me. I KNEW this was going to be my new favorite place.

10 minutes later, she returned with a dirty martini with a lemon rind in it. My heart sank. I don’t like dirty martinis (because I frankly am just not into drinking straight vodka – soooo gross and depressing), and in my opinion, they’re the cop-out of drinking diabetics everywhere (this blog was more or less founded on my frequent run-ins with diabetics drinking vodka soda water). I took a sip, just to make sure I wasn’t missing something, and nope, I was not. There was no way I was drinking that. I called the waitress over and mentioned that straight up olive-tasting vodka just wasn’t my jam, and was it possible to push said Type 1 bartender to be just a tad more creative? “No,” she said, “he told me he doesn’t really take care of himself and just drinks a lot of beer; he doesn’t know how to make low-sugar drinks.”

Wow. D minus for the new restaurant (it’s not an F because our waitress was awesome and the food was good). I gave up and ordered an old-fashioned.

The point here is…

I get it, we’re all fucking busy and some people like beer. We do live in Colorado, the micro-brewery capitol of the universe, and I don’t expect everyone to maintain the exhausting level of alcoholic snobbery I do. My point is that you don’t have to, nor do you even really have to be a fancy bartender or spend any amount of time throwing something together. It wouldn’t have taken much for this beer-carb-laden Type 1 bartender to make me happy last night.

So, in no particular order, some ideas he might want to consider (for himself and his restaurant) in the future:

Use flavored seltzer water.

A smattering of what's currently in my fridge...

A smattering of what’s currently in my fridge…

Not feeling creative/don’t have time to make a fancy drink? No problem… you only have to choose from five hundred BILLION kinds of flavored zero-sugar seltzer water, sweeten it up a tad with some liquid stevia to enhance whatever the flavor is, and drop in your liquor of choice. I swear, every time I go to the grocery store there are more options. You can’t go wrong.

My current favorite is the Seven brand, which recently produced a series of unsweetened “beverage” flavors. I’m most partial to the “Lime Mint Mojito,” which really does, in my opinion, effectively capture that mojito flavor. I add 1/2 oz of St. Germain, 1.5 oz of light rum, and squeeze in a lime – and voila – an almost completely sugar-free (St. Germain aside) pear mojito for you right there.

Flavored sodas can be magic.

I had to try it. Still tastes like Diet Coke so you can't really escape that.

I had to try it. Still tastes like Diet Coke so you can’t really escape that…

I know, I know… soda is bad for you. And I personally think Diet Coke tastes like crap, but I know there are people out there who like it. And, if you really MUST have a legit diet soda, both Coke and Pepsi recently started to make flavored diet options, some of which lend themselves quite nicely to alcoholic beverages.

If you’re jonesing for a Coke but have sworn off of actual soda because you’re, like, healthy and shit,  Zevia makes some great soda flavors that are pretty legit (and some even have caffeine in them).

And if you’re into mules or gin & tonics, for example, don’t tell yourself you’re stuck with a high-sugar beverage because EVERYTHING has a diet equivalent, and most can be found right next door to the original in any major grocery store. I use diet ginger beer all the time for my mules, and keep diet tonic water around in case I suddenly have a hankering for a scholarly beverage.

Low carb hard selzer, like White Claw and Truly, is a gift from the universe.

I could kiss whoever came up with this concept (and so could every sorority girl in the world, no doubt). This isn’t zero sugar or zero carb because it has alcohol in it (in case that wasn’t immediately obvious), but it’s damn close.

What the fuck else can I say about this? Buy yourself a six pack and hit the beach. End of story.

You can literally buy a whole fucking low-carb cocktail pre-mixed in a bottle.

One example is the Skinny Girl series; I can’t totally speak to these because I haven’t really tried them, but I have friends who like them. All you have to do is pour that shit into a glass. I promise, you can do it.

Try using a protein drink.

IMG_0023

Like to multitask? Then this one’s for you.

Okay, it’s little bit of a stretch but roll with it. I was in Costco the other day perusing the protein aisle for deals (I mean, who doesn’t need 500 pounds of whey protein, right?), and stumbled across an Isopure bottled protein drink I hadn’t seen before. It was on sale; a case of 12 bottles for $16, so I thought eh, what the hell, I’ll give it a try – and bought the case. I like to use Isopure protein powder (the whey isolate) for my protein shakes because it’s very low carb and doesn’t have a bunch of other crap in it. Having it in a premade drink form was a nice bonus.

I was driving home eyeballing these almost glowing green bottles of what looked essentially like coolant, wondering how horrible they were going to be, when I had a brilliant thought: what if they made a good drink? I could boost my protein intake while also having a delightful apple melon and rum mixed beverage. My immediate second thought after that: what special kind of crazy does someone have to be to even be having this thought process?

The answer: low-carb fitness nuts who like to drink, obviously. I can’t possibly be the only crazy person out there… Anyone? Anyone?

In case you’re wondering – I did pair it with alcohol, and it was actually quite good. I used 1.5 oz of vodka, and mixed in a cucumber melon sugar-free seltzer (see? those seltzers are good with anything) to cut some of the sweetness, and I really can’t complain. I’ll probably do it again.

You saw it here first!

 

 

The Art of Drinking Internationally

Happy new year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season filled with tasty food and beverages.

My Xmas was delightful; I spent six days enjoying sugar-free mojitoes on a lounge chair next to the ocean/pool in Mexico. It really doesn’t get better than that, you know?

But, preparing for the trip reminded me that enjoying (in a relaxing way, not in a oh-shit-my-BG-is-suddenly-400-whoopsies kind of way) the international food and drink situation as a diabetic requires a little bit of forethought and planning. While it’s easy to find good alternatives to food and drink things here in the States, one can’t take them for granted or assume they’re available outside of the country. So I thought I’d devote a post on this (focused on both food and drink) to share some tips I aggregated via my own successes and lessons learned on this last outing.

The extras I brought with me: some of my go-to snacks, protein bars in case I needed to replace a meal, sweetener alternatives and my favorite low supplies.

The extras I brought with me: some of my go-to snacks, protein bars in case I needed to replace a meal, sweetener alternatives and my favorite low supplies.


Bring basic snacks and supplies with you

I didn’t go to a third world country, but I happen to know that Mexicans aren’t the healthiest eaters. I was also planning on leaving the resort I stayed at for a couple of activities, and wanted to be prepared with my own snacks in case what they brought for our snack was cookies (turns out it was). And, I didn’t know what kind of sugar alternatives the resort would have available for my drinks, and obviously, my drinks were the most important part of the trip! So, I recommend bringing:

  1. Sugar alternatives. I’ve already talked quite a bit about my love for Stevia. I packed up a bottle of liquid Stevia and several Stevia packets and just brought them with me. When I went to the beach/pool during the day, I put them in my beach bag, and when I went for meals at night or found a nice place in the evening for a drink, I carried them in a small shoulder bag. Turns out Mexico has discovered Stevia too (and theirs was actually better!) and I needn’t have worried, but I’d have been up shit’s creek if my only option was Splenda or something (because ew).
  2. Protein bars. I brought a couple of these along in case I missed a meal for some reason or needed something quickly; I prefer the ONE brand because they’re very low sugar and don’t taste like cardboard, and I have a perfect ratio of insulin-to-protein bar that I know works to cover them. I did end up eating both of them, one on the plane and the second on my snorkel outing off the resort.
  3. Go-to snacks of choice. When I need a snack or get hand-to-mouth syndrome, my go-tos are usually jerky and nuts; they’re not heavy carb and give me a good dose of healthy protein and fat. Turns out the snack options at the pool weren’t great so I ended up going through what I’d brought and was glad I had it. In addition, the snacks on my off-resort snorkel tour were cookies and bananas; about as high on the Glycemic index as you could get. Luckily, I had brought my own stuff and was perfectly happy (and with a normal BG) most of the day.
  4. Low supplies of choice. I mean, duh – but in case for some reason this is news to someone, it’s always good to have these along wherever you go (I carried them with me day and eve). Also good to make sure you choose options that won’t melt if they get warm sitting out all day. I had a pretty good low one night and ended up drinking a Mexican coke out of the mini bar instead of getting into my low supplies (and Mexican cokes are HARD CORE sugar bombs), but felt better knowing I had stuff with me.
A fresh sugar-free mojito ready to go in front of the firepit one evening.

A fresh sugar-free mojito ready to go in front of the firepit one evening.


Drink responsibly

History has recently proven that Mexico is probably not the place to bring out your inner 21-year-old, drink too much and do stupid shit. You’ve likely heard all of the horror stories about bad things happening to Americans in Cancun, for example, most relating to some type of alcoholic beverage (roofies, poisoned tequila, etc.). So while I feel confident I can travel safely in Mexico as long as I’m careful and aware, I stayed very wary of what I was consuming. Further, Mexicans like their drinks with a LOT of sugar, pretty much no matter what it is, so I knew I’d have to figure out a foolproof method for getting drinks that were okay for me to consume.

Here’s what worked for me:

  1. Learn how to clearly ask for what you want in the local dialect. Don’t assume that everyone speaks clear English anywhere just because you’re there (we as Americans tend to do this). Obviously at resorts that are filled with something like 80% American tourists, a majority of the staff there will speak decent English, but that is not always a given. Plus, I like practicing my Spanish when in Mexico, because when in Rome, you know? So, before I went on my trip I taught myself how to ask for a sugar-free mojito (Quiero un mojito sin azucar/I’d like a mojito without sugar), and identified a backup drink in case I ran into problems (diet coke with rum). Not gonna lie – I got huffed at a LOT by making this special request because apparently it is sacreligious to drink a sugar-free mojito and the staff were appalled at my poor taste – but I got what I asked for.
  2. Ask for a better liquor than what they automatically give you. I stayed at an all-inclusive resort and obviously they go through a LOT of alcohol so it’s in their best interest to save money by giving people the cheaper/well brands of liquor. The cheaper stuff is higher in sugar content and can consequently give you a spectacular hangover when consumed in large quantities. Pretty much anywhere will have better quality liquor available for no more cost and will be happy to give it to you if you ask. By doing a little research when you arrive to identify the better quality brands available and specifically asking for them when you order a drink, you can better manage your BG and avoid a massive headache. And then you can wake up the next day and start your adventure all over again!
  3. Bring sugar alternatives with you in case they aren’t otherwise available. As discussed above.
  4. Taste your drink first before adding sugar alternatives and consuming. Duh, right? Yeah. I was having consistent success asking for my mojitoes without sugar, so I didn’t think to much when one drink was a little too sweet – I just assumed I’d added too much Stevia. On my fifth day at the resort, after four hours in the afternoon with a BG of 260 stubbornly refusing to come down no matter how much insulin I took, I realized I’d consumed a sugared beverage. My request had not made it to the bartenders appropriately, I guess. And then, because I can’t learn my lesson the first time, I did the same thing again that evening. While I normally would taste my drink first anyway, I had gotten complacent. Always taste your drink first – even if it’s the 20th one!
  5. Avoid the beachy, sugary stuff. Being a diabetic can really be a bitch sometimes. One day I REALLY wanted the strawberry daiquiri my neighbor was consuming and spent some minutes pondering how I might be able to make that happen without going into DKA. Unfortunately, there’s just not really an option; while I can sit at home with my diabetic bar and make myself martinis with all of the lovely alternatives I’ve identified, finding those (and getting someone to make a drink with them) in a foreign country is unlikely at best. On the plus side, you will likely be the only one feeling wide awake and peachy the following morning because you didn’t consume alcohol with a pound of sugar. Silver lining.

 

OMFGGGG Fall, Part 2 (We are the cider we’ve been waiting for)

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so I wanted to make sure all y’all had these recipes in hand just in time for the holiday. (Hey! I got you. No one should be drinking vodka soda water on Thanksgiving, for fuck’s sake)

But before we talk Thanksgiving, I must first note that it’s National Diabetes Awareness Month (#NDAM), which as you can imagine, is a big fucking deal to all of us diabetics because it’s an opportunity to raise awareness (and funds) about the disease and educate folks. This blog is light and irreverent, but the truth is, Type 1 Diabetes is no joke and every day, people around the globe work their tails off to raise research dollars and to do the research itself – to help us find new, cutting edge ways to manage the disease and god willing, eventually find a cure. If you’re reading this blog because I told you to and you felt obligated, or because you’re amused by my rude tone, or even if you have no idea how you got here, please also take some time to read up on Type 1 Diabetes and how you can help.

Here are some great places to start:

Okay, now that I’ve covered the serious stuff – time to talk about APPLE CIDER. In my prior fall-themed post, I covered an Old Fashioned-style beverage and a martini, because I was still waiting for my sugar-free apple cider mix to arrive, and pretty much any fall-themed drink recipe I could find involved apple cider. At long last it arrived, and this post will cover two cider-themed recipes so you can formally get into your boozy holiday spirit (whatever that means for you).

In case you were blissfully unaware, apple cider has a shitload of carbs and sugar. I mean, it’s basically pressed apples, right? Many of the recipes I skimmed in my research had a section devoted to making homemade apple cider for their beverages, no less – and many of their recipes called for an extra half-cup or cup of sugar on top of what comes out of pressing apples to begin with. Holy shit. So, what is a diabetic to do?

Naturally, I went searching for sugar-free apple cider, because there’s a sugar-free option for everything. Weirdly, the product that got the best reviews (and that I ended up ordering) was a powdered mix called Sugar-Free Alpine Spiced Cider Mix, which sounds gross, but I decided to trust the reviews and go for it. When I first made a batch (which is done by basically tossing a pack into hot water and stirring), I tried it and felt like it was ok but missing something, so I added a pinch of cinnamon and a cinnamon stick to soak, and that actually did the trick. It really tasted pretty good.  Then I chilled it in the fridge to make my drinks and the flavor held. So I’m going to go ahead and recommend this as well because it really wasn’t half bad, and it turned out really well in my drinks. Another option would be to just get some damn apple cider and try to use as little as possible, maybe by diluting in some seltzer water or something – but that wouldn’t give you the intense cider flavor these drinks call for, and what fun is that?

This time I really did plan on following some drinks recipes, but changed my mind again because I didn’t like them, or they had an ingredient I disapproved of. So both of the following recipes are D4D originals!

And, PS – I recommend making a big batch of this apple cider mix and chilling in advance of your drink making. The toddy can be made hot, but the mule should be cold.

The Caramel Cider "Mule"

The Sugar-Free Caramel Cider “Mule”

Sugar-Free Caramel Cider “Mule”

*This recipe resulted in a net zero BG affect for me. There is no actual sugar in this drink, other than what is naturally in the Bourbon!

**You will want to make your cider in advance and chill in the fridge for this beverage.

Ingredients (makes one beverage):

  • 4 oz sugar free apple cider (using the Sugar Free Alpine Spiced Cider mix as described above)
  • 5 oz diet ginger beer
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 0.5 oz Sugar Free Salted Caramel Torani Syrup
  • Cinnamon stick for garnish/flavor

Recommended steps:

  • Light one of those apple cinnamon holiday candles so your house smells like you just made actual apple cider. If you also turn on Christmas music that’s fine, but please just don’t tell me.
  • Fill a copper mule mug with ice
  • Pour all ingredients into mug (over ice) and stir
  • Top with cinnamon stick

 

The Sugar-Free Apple Cider Toddy

The Apple Cider Toddy

Apple Cider Toddy

*This beverage is a close relative to my “Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Toddy” referenced in the prior post, but has a cider twist and can be made hot.

**This beverage resulted in a net zero BG affect for me; there was some sugar in the flavored whiskey but the acidity of the bitters and lemon, plus the consumption of alcohol kept any rise minimal.

***You may want to make your cider in advance and chill in the fridge for this beverage, but this one would also be good hot so it’s your call.

Ingredients (makes one beverage):

  • 6 oz sugar free apple cider
  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz apple whiskey
  • 4-5 drops Angostura bitters
  • Slice of fresh lemon

Recommended steps:

  • Light one of those apple cinnamon holiday candles so your house smells like you just made actual apple cider. If you also turn on Christmas music that’s fine, but please just don’t tell me.
  • Pour cider, bourbon, whiskey, bitters and some ice into a cocktail shaker and mix well
  • Add large spherical ice cube to your glass (they melt more slowly and are better for complex beverages like this one because they won’t water it down)
  • Pour mixture in cocktail shaker into glass, over cube
  • Squeeze lemon slice(s) into glass. Stir. Can add another lemon slice for garnish.
The Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Toddy

OMFGGGG Fall, Part 1

You guys, it fucking snowed this weekend. SNOWED. One second it was 65, bluebird skies and beautiful fall colors, and the next it was fucking freezing ass cold and I was walking my dog in snow boots. FUCK. THIS. And welcome to Colorado, where we have all four seasons, but fall is like 1.5 days so don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

I’ve been insisting for weeks that I’m not ready for winter (and truly, I’m not), but I’ve also been preparing for the change of seasons by stocking up on the AMAZING BOUNTY that Trader Joe’s offers in everything pumpkin flavored, ordering sugar free pumpkin pie syrup and apple cider EVERYTHING, and, naturally, stalking TJ Maxx looking for dog costumes. I’ve also been hard at work researching fall-themed beverages, because I plan to booze it up in style while also carbing up in preparation for my 2.5-month hibernation (don’t tell my Orangetheory gym), where I like to hide in my house in order to avoid psychotic Christmas shoppers.  The only time of year I feel as though I can legitimately sport my office ass is between now and New Years, and I take that job seriously.

That's the dog in a unicorn hoodie, because fall.

I find the best shit in TJ Maxx. That’s the dog in a unicorn hoodie, because fall. And obviously, she learned side eye from her mom.

It turns out that the holidays don’t favor diabetics (color us surprised), and finding recipes, and alternate ingredients, that are not pure sugar or extremely high carb has been harder than expected. Good thing I like a challenge.

Not gonna lie, I didn’t find much to work with on the drink recipe front. When researching “low sugar fall themed drinks” I found a lot of quote unquote “low carb” apple cider recipes. It was rather confusing. Do people not know what sugar is or where it comes from? However, I did learn a few things. Fall-themed drinks tend to favor the following flavors: apple cider (or anything apple in general), cranberry, pomegranate, vanilla, caramel, pumpkin/pie, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. They also seem to favor heavier liquors, like bourbon, dark rum, and flavored vodkas, as well as creams, and hot bases, like tea and coffee. This can make fall flavor combinations a little tricky, since it’s not always easy to find low carb or perfect alternatives for some of the key flavors – but not impossible. And, the higher fat content in some of the drinks can be a plus, since fat absorbs more slowly, giving insulin time to get to work on any associated sugars in the drink.

Amazon’s whack shipping system screwed me a tad last week, so I’ve decided I’ll share my fall recipes in two phases since my sugar free apple cider mix is still somewhere in the middle of the country. (And also, just the fact that I had to order sugar-free apple cider mix online should tell you something about diabetes and fall).

Because of the limited recipe options, I actually concocted my own drink for the first recipe, and then used a recipe I ended up tweaking for the second drink.

The Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Toddy

The Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Toddy

The “Old Fashioned” Caramel Apple Toddy

*This beverage resulted in a net zero BG affect for me; there was some sugar in the flavored whiskey but the acidity of the bitters and lemon, plus the consumption of alcohol kept any rise minimal.

Ingredients (makes one beverage):

  • 1 oz Apple Whiskey
  • 1.5 oz Bourbon (get the good shit for this drink)
  • 0.5 oz Sugar-Free Salted Caramel Torani syrup
  • 3-4 drops Angostura bitters
  • Squeeze in a couple of fresh lemon slices
  • Cinnamon stick for flavor
  • Large ice cube (I have sphere molds but a square mold would work just fine)

Recommended steps:

  • Measure whiskey, bourbon, Torani and bitters into small glass. Mix.
  • Add large spherical ice cube (they have a larger surface area, and thus melt more slowly and won’t make your drink taste like melted water)
  • Squeeze lemon slices over mixture and ice cube.
  • Stir drink with cinnamon stick. You can leave it in if you like a stronger cinnamon flavor, or remove for future use after a few stirs.

 

Pumpkin pie martini. Pictured with chocolate chip pumpkin protein cookies.

Pumpkin Pie Martini. Pictured with pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies.

Pumpkin Pie Martini (Though I’m calling it Halloween Eggnog in my head)

*This drink caused a moderate rise in my BG after consumption, but I was also eating these pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies while I was making the drinks, so that may have had something to do with it (ya think?). This is not a perfectly controlled experiment… what can I say.

Normally I’d credit the person who provided inspiration for this recipe, but I had to make a lot of tweaks because I thought their recipe was a little nasty. So, I’ll just say this is like 50% a D4D original.

Ingredients (makes two martinis):

  • 2 oz vodka (again, go with the good stuff – I had some Tito’s left over from the previous round of martinis so I used that). For the record, the original recipe actually called for vanilla vodka, but those can be very sugary, so I used good vodka and added vanilla extract to capture the flavor.
  • 1.5 oz dark rum
  • 0.5 oz Sugar Free Torani pumpkin pie syrup
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp half & half (the original recipe called for heavy cream and I didn’t have any handy; half & half seemed to do the trick for me)
  • 3/4 cup skim milk (or milk type of your preference – I can’t stand heavy milks or creams so I try to go as light as possible)
  • Optional: 1 squeeze liquid Stevia or similar if not sweet enough
  • Optional: A couple shakes of pumpkin pie spice if you really want to up your pumpkin ante
  • Optional: some crushed nuts and Stevia crystals to rim the glass (that was too much work for me so I skipped it)

Recommended steps:

  • Combine vodka, rum, syrup, pumpkin, half & half, and milk in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously to ensure pumpkin puree distributes evenly in the liquid.
  • Pour equal amounts of liquid into martini glasses.
  • Shake small amount of pumpkin pie spice over the drinks for garnish.

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