Mourning Mexico, I mean, winter, with a Bloody Mary

I’ve been on hiatus a while, mourning the fact that my trip to Mexico is long over, and reliving said trip by repeatedly drinking mojitos and diet & rums with lime while pretending I can hear the ocean. No, it’s true, but I’m sure that’s not why you’re here, so I’ll move along.

Squaring away my first mojito on the beach.

Squaring away my first mojito (using liquid Stevia) on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

But the beach… okay, fine.

I’ve been on a Bloody Mary kick more recently, so I thought I’d talk to ya’ll about it a bit. This particular kick seems to happen every winter-to-spring transition time, where I just can’t fucking stand the sight of my down jackets anymore and it won’t stop snowing. I think it’s some kind of weird byproduct of my genetic desire to hibernate while in reality, I still have to leave the house. Regardless, I’ve done a little digging on the nutritional makeup of a Bloody Mary for ya’ll, and good news: this one’s got a lot of healthy qualities to it, so best get drinking.

The Bloody Mary, very obviously, begins with a tomato juice-like base. Depending on one’s preferred flavor profile, you might use a tomato juice concentrate or tomato juice (like a basic Campbell’s Tomato Juice) – or something like V8 Juice. Which one you choose largely has implications for calorie count, but in general the carb and sugar counts are about the same for each: for about 4 ounces of juice, you’re looking at roughly 10 carbs (which doesn’t make this recipe zero carb, but it’s close) and about 6 grams of sugar. V8 Juice has a little more fiber than tomato juice, so that could be factored in to a diabetic equation, as well. This is probably the first beverage I’ve written up that has any added sugar at all in it.

I should also note that I typically buy the low sodium version of Campbell’s tomato juice for my drinks… tomato juice and its ilk, such as Clamato Juice, are very high in sodium and that can be an issue for some folks. Low sodium options don’t especially change the flavor, but allow you to choose the flavor level you prefer while avoiding some additives.

The Bloody Mary typically uses vodka as its basic liquor, and straight vodka is very low calorie and should have no residual sugar. If you like your drinks spicy, a chili- or other spice-infused vodka would be interesting (you’re on your own with that bc spicy shit makes me miserable). The rest of the ingredients in a Bloody Mary are largely up to you, and most won’t affect a carb count (unless you decide to garnish with 50 olives, 10 pieces of bacon, etc., which might require dosing for fat or protein). I’ve listed some options below (my photo has a turkey jerkey garnish).

A caution: many restaurants and bars use mixes to make Bloody Mary drinks, which makes them a little harder to assess, carb- & sugar-wise. However, Bloody Mary mixes are often just combinations of tomato juice, tabasco and spices – and, many places also carry straight tomato juice, so my recommendation is to ask what’s in the drink before you order. Find out if they are using a mix, and if so, what the ingredients are – and if you think there’s too much of something troublesome in it, ask then if they would make you something using tomato juice instead, and then add your own spice combination. I’ve never had any trouble over this, so it probably happens with some frequency.

The Bloody Mary, with a turkey jerkey garnish.

The Bloody Mary, with a turkey jerkey garnish.

The Bloody Mary (~10g carb & ~6g sugar per serving)


  • 4-6 oz low sodium tomato juice or V8 juice, depending on your preference
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce (modify depending on preference)
  • Additional spices, up to you on quantity – also can be used to rim glass:
    • Fresh lime
    • Ground black pepper
    • Horseradish
    • Hot sauce or Tabasco
    • Flavored salt (I have fancy lime-flavored salt and I crush a little bit in mine)
  • Options for garnish:
    • Olive(s)
    • Celery stick(s)
    • Bacon (I’m using turkey jerky in my photo)
    • Shrimp
    • Banana peppers
    • Other vegetables, like tomatoes


  • Combine spices and lemon juice in small dish and use masher to blend spices in with lemon juice
  • Add vodka to mixture and blend again, to ensure spices are well distributed into liquid and melding with the liquid
  • Pour spices, lemon juice and vodka into cocktail shaker – add tomato juice and Worcestershire Sauce, and 3-4 ice cubes and shake well
  • Strain into a ~10 oz glass filled with ice
  • Rim glass with spices if you desire, using lemon juice
  • Garnish with your favorite items and enjoy

It’s so basic: The Margarita

In honor of the fact that I’m about to skip this joint and head back to Mexico to hide away during the quote unquote merriest season of the year, let’s discuss the Margarita.

I don’t actually drink Margaritas because I’m not a big fan of tequila, so when I started to do some research I realized this has got to be the easiest drink to make on the planet (next to vodka sodas, of course). And, because it’s heavily dependent on citrus for most of its flavor, it’s incredibly blood-sugar friendly.  But, while a traditional Marg has very few ingredients, consider yourself warned: because it’s so popular and common, this drink is probably one of the top sugar traps in the popular alcoholic beverage world.

Traditional Margs have the following ingredients: Tequila, a shitload of lime juice, possibly a half ounce of orange liqueur, and potentially sugar to cut the bitterness. They’re versatile and can take a lot of forms: on the rocks, blended, or shaken/more martini-style. They’re lime-y, but not a particularly sweet drink.

But, smart venues have learned that people like shit that’s sweet and doesn’t actually taste like alcohol (don’t even try to argue with me about this… just go to your nearest Starbucks and find me a coffee beverage that actually tastes like coffee instead of sugar and then we’ll talk) – so they mix in things like sweet & sour mixes, blenders, juices, other myriad liqueurs, etc. to make this drink more “palatable.” So when you think you’re ordering basically tequila and lime, you’re actually getting a drink that’s 300+ calories with 30+ grams of sugar sunk in there. It tastes good, but here comes the BG rollercoaster. Is it really worth it?

Some tips to help you on your Margarita journey (self-made or purchased):

  1. Good Margaritas should make use of pure agave tequila (that is, 100% agave). Yes, tequila is made with agave – but the sugary part that would affect a BG is processed out during the distilling process. Pure agave tequila is actually super low in sugar, has 69 calories per ounce and 0 carb. Also, pure agave tequila doesn’t have many additives that other, cheaper/shittier varieties might include, like caramel coloring, other grain alcohols, etc. which can increase the sugar and calorie content… and here comes your hangover headache. PS, don’t ask me about tequilas that add beetles and shit… bugs in alcohol is just not okay for any reason.
  2. Opt for silver tequila whenever possible. Pure agave tequila can come in different colors and ages. Clear liquors in general (this also goes for rum) have less residual or added sugar. They’re also less likely to have congeners as an ingredient; this is a compound created during fermentation that is linked to more severe, longer lasting hangovers.
  3. Be careful with the form and delivery of your Marg. Be active in your drink preparation when you’re out; ask if the Margs come with mixers in them, or if a place uses full soda as a base. If you tend to like your Margs sweet, have the bartender make you a traditional Marg and add your own sweetener of choice.

How to make a traditional Margarita (est. 2 carb per beverage)

Ingredients (makes one drink):

  • 2 oz tequila
  • 2 oz lime juice (fresh is always better; it takes approx. 1 lime for 2 oz of juice)
  • 1/2 oz orange liqueur (Triple Sec or Cointreau are good options)
  • Optional sweetener
  • Optional ice for blending
  • Optional club soda as a base


  1. Fill cocktail shaker with ice
  2. Add tequila, lime juice, liqueur and sweetener
  3. Cover and shake until chilled
  4. Take chosen glass/cup and coat rim with salt
  5. Pour into glass over more ice / or blend
  6. Enjoy a steady BG all night long

Some options to mix up your flavors if you so desire:

  • Try some different liqueur flavors (be careful how much you use because liqueur is sugary) or extracts, or even muddle in a little fruit
  • If you don’t like tequila, try rum (honestly, if I’m going to get this far I’ll probably just add mint and make it a mojito – but to each their own)
  • To make your Margarita a Paloma, add 2 oz of grapefruit juice and a little sparkling water

Get you some flavor without the sugar: How to infuse vodka

Sometime last spring, I was at a distillery and was thrilled to discover they had cilantro vodka. I know cilantro isn’t for everyone (you special “tastes like soap” people), but I love it, and I keep trying to find ways to add it to my drinks. I’d never really thought much about how one makes cilantro (or any other flavor) vodka, but now that I’m all about opening the hood on this stuff to figure out how I can recreate things, I like to ask questions.

So, I asked the bartender how one makes cilantro vodka. Wait til you hear this answer: “um, you take vodka, put some fresh cilantro in it, leave it for a few days, strain the cilantro out, and then drink it” she said, giving me the “you poor stupid human” eye.

What? You gotta be fucking kidding me. Even I can do THAT.

Since then, I’ve learned that there are a lot of ways to infuse flavor into alcohols, and many involve added sugar, mostly because it makes them taste better. In fact, usually the cheap versions of things like rum and vodka involve a LOT of added sugar (I went a little crazy on a “tester” blueberry vodka one night and had the stubborn 300+ BG to prove it). But, if you’re willing to shell out a little extra (like, $25 instead of $15) you can get a ton of infused vodka flavors that have zero added sugar, really broadening your options for drinks of varying flavors.

And, of course, if you’re really feeling zealous – you can make your own.

Making cilantro-infused vodka

Making cilantro-infused vodka

It’s this fucking easy

Here’s how fucking easy this is. You will need (1) decent vodka (seriously, don’t waste your time with shitty stuff, otherwise what’s the point?), (2) whatever you plan to infuse it with, and really, sky’s the limit, and (3) a seal-able mason jar or something similar. I’ve made three infusions so far: cilantro, tea (for sweet tea vodka) and blueberry, so I could try a variety of types of ingredients.

Pour the amount of vodka you want to infuse into the mason jar, and prepare your ingredients. In general, you want about a cup of the fresh stuff (make sure you wash it first). Pour ingredients into the jar, stir, and seal the jar. Store the jar in a cool area away from direct sun or heating elements, and keep an eye on it.

Cilantro-infused vodka about 6 days later

Cilantro-infused vodka about 6 days later

The fresh stuff can be left in for up to a week or more; you’ll want to keep an eye on it and remove it when it starts to lose its color or look like it’s getting a little gross. I used 4 teabags, but only left them in for about 5 hours, because tea that steeps too long can get bitter (this is an exception to a general rule for infusions). When it’s time to remove the ingredients, unseal the jar and pour the contents over a strainer to strain out the fresh ingredients. Pour the remaining liquid into a sealable container and voila – now you have a vodka infusion.

Cilantro-infused vodka: the finished product

Cilantro-infused vodka: the finished product

Apparently this is becoming a thing: I spotted the below at World Market the other day:

Spotted at World Market

Spotted at World Market

But really, give it a try. If I can do it, you certainly can. Let me know how it goes.


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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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).


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


  • “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)


  • 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.


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.