Posts Tagged With: Alcohol

National Vodka Day

October 4 is National Vodka Day! It’s also National Taco Day, but you won’t lose if you choose the booze. Really, there’s room for both around the dining room table!

Vodka comes from the Slavic word voda, which means “water.” Appropriate, given that many dismiss vodka for its lack of flavor. True, it doesn’t taste like a Christmas tree like some alcoholic beverages we know (I’m talking to you, gin!), but it sure does pack a punch. And really, isn’t that the point of a good spirit?! By definition, vodka is a combination of mostly water and ethanol, so if you’re out drinking in the middle of nowhere and run out of gas, fear not! Chances are good you’ll still make it home without having to call AAA.

There is some debate over the origin of vodka, with both Poland and Russia laying claim to its invention. The word first appeared in writing in a Polish court document in 1405, but Russians claim to have been distilling vodka since the 9th century. Not to be outdone, the Poles say they were producing vodka in the 8th century; this was called gorzalka and was used for medicinal purposes. Which just goes to show that getting sick back in the dark ages wasn’t an entirely unpleasant experience. Both Russia and Poland have named vodka as their national drink, so it appears even centuries later this alcoholic cold war rages on with no clear winner.

Regardless of who actually invented vodka, it is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages around the world, praised for its universal ability to be used as a base for mixed drinks and cocktails. Or, you know, guzzled straight from the bottle if that’s your preference. We won’t judge! Vodka is usually made from either fermented cereal grains or potatoes, and in recent years, a wide variety of flavored vodkas have popped up. These range from the simple (cranberry, grapefruit, blueberry) to the unusual (whipped cream, cucumber, cola) to the what-were-they-thinking?! (gummy bear, peanut butter and jelly, bacon). It seems like everybody is trying to outdo everybody else in the crazy flavor department. 13620780_10209747854202031_7343375134862711107_n

After being diagnosed with diabetes, I was in search of “healthy” cocktails, and discovered a simple vodka and soda isn’t too terribly bad, relatively speaking. It’s got no sugar or carbs and only 96 calories per 1.5 mL, the standard “pour.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t have much flavor, either. But last year I discovered a local Portland vodka distiller named Wild Roots. Their vodkas are infused with flavor, and they have some rather delicious varieties available. Their Northwest Red Raspberry infused vodka is my favorite, and this evening, that’s how I chose to celebrate the holiday. On the rocks with a splash of club soda, though really, this one is perfectly drinkable straight up.

 

Advertisements
Categories: Alcohol | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Healthy” Cocktails: No Oxymoron Intended

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, one of my first thoughts was so long, alcohol! Fortunately, I was jumping the gun just a bit. While booze will never top the food pyramid even if you don’t have a debilitating condition, there are ways to enjoy your liquor without completely sabotaging your health or diet.

Yes, moderation is key. This much is obvious: the less you drink, the fewer calories you will consume. But when you’re out for a night on the town, it can be difficult to stop at just one beverage. Or four. You can still make relatively healthy choices, though. Keep this in mind: all alcohol has the same amount of calories, 7 per gram, which translates to 96 calories in a standard 1.5-liter serving. Doesn’t matter if you’re drinking gin, vodka, rum, or tequila. A straight shot is just shy of 100 calories. It’s the mixers that can get you in trouble. Calories pile up once you start adding syrups, sugared rims, sodas, and more. A typical margarita can easily top 500 calories a glass; just a few will put you over your daily calorie allotment (and chances are, you’re enjoying those with a plate of nachos or some other heavy food). In addition to the margarita, some other notorious offenders include the Long Island Iced Tea, Mai Tai, Pina Colada, and Mudslide. All average 500-600 calories or more per glass (sometimes much more, depending on the size of that glass and how heavy handed the bartender is).

Avoiding the mixers, or limiting them, will “lighten up” your drinking and can save you a significant number of calories. Your best bet is to order a drink neat, straight up, or on the rocks – that is, without a mixer of any kind. That way, your only calories come from the liquor itself. Order a bourbon on the rocks, for instance, and you’re looking at about 100 calories per glass. Or if you’re in the mood for a margarita, opt for tequila with club soda and a squeeze of lime and orange. I promise your bartender won’t look at you funny, and you’ll save hundreds of calories per glass. Bottoms up!vodka-soda1

Here are some cocktails you can enjoy with a minimum of guilt.

  1. Vodka Soda. The soda refers to club soda, which is calorie-free, versus soda pop such as 7-Up. Club soda and seltzer are excellent options for mixed drinks, and the vodka soda is a classic. Liquor aficionados might scoff over such a “boring” drink, but you’ll have the last laugh when stepping on the scale the next morning. Besides, choose a quality, smooth vodka (or even a flavored version – most infusions add no extra calories) and a couple of freshly squeezed lemon and lime slices, and you’ve got a crisp, refreshing drink that will give you a nice buzz.
  2. Rum and Diet Coke. Diet soda has no calories, making it a guilt-free mixer. And with a good quality rum, you won’t even miss the “regular” stuff! You could also order a vodka and Diet 7-Up/Diet Sprite, gin and Diet Tonic, etc. (Watch out for regular tonic water, which is loaded with sugar).
  3. Bloody Mary. Hands down, my favorite alcoholic beverage. Vodka is mixed with tomato juice, tabasco, worcestershire, and sometimes horseradish for a tasty drink that only contains about 125 calories per 6-oz. serving. Bonus: the addition of celery, olives, cocktail onions, and other accompaniments can turn your drink into a “salad in a glass.”
  4. Manhattan. This classic blend of bourbon, vermouth, and Angostura bitters averages just 145 calories and is manly as hell.
  5. Sea Breeze. This blend of vodka, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice can be a fairly healthy choice so long as you get the ratios right. You’ll want about a 3-to-1 ratio of grapefruit juice to cranberry juice; don’t be afraid to let your bartender know and you’ll end up with a refreshing, tasty beverage that averages just 180 calories.

Honorable mentions: Mojito, Sangria, Mimosa.

Categories: Alcohol, Healthy Eating | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

293/365: National Brandied Fruit Day

Those who like to mix their alcohol with fresh fruit will find today’s food holiday intoxicating. October 20 is National Brandied Fruit Day!

Brandied fruit is a simpler and more convenient way of preserving food than canning: it requires little more than fruit, brandy, and sugar. Alcohol kills bacteria, allowing you to skip the sometimes rigorous steps involved in canning. The downside, as stated, is that – as with pickling – it takes time for the flavors to meld. Luckily we plan our food holidays in advance, but unfortunately, not a month in advance, so we were unable to make our own brandied fruit. Too bad – this would have been fun! But at least we were able to order a jar online. It’s not as easy to find as you might think! Why use brandy (derived from the Dutch word brandewijn, which means “burnt wine”) to preserve fruit rather than, say, vodka or wine? The truth is, any high-proof spirit will work, but brandy is popular thanks to its flavor. Rumtopf, an early version of brandied fruit, originated in Germany; folks would fill a stoneware jar with fruit, top it with rum, and let the whole thing distill, until it turned into a tasty “rum pot.” An early recipe published by the Ladies Guild of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in East Randolph, New York, in 1907 states, Take one cup of brandy, one of sugar and one fruit to begin. Whatever fruit you choose, lay it in jar, first, then sugar, and lastly brandy; continue to add different fruits as they appear in season, one cup of each. You do not need any more brandy; as the juice will be extracted from the fruit and increase the amount. Commence with strawberries, and all kinds of fruit as they ripen. It is not to be cooked. Little has changed in the ensuing century.

As stated, I was bummed when I discovered we didn’t have enough time to make our own brandied fruit. This is one holiday that should have been on our radar even sooner. But not to fear, Dundee Fruit Company came to the rescue! As an added bonus they’re local, located about an hour south of where we live, in the Willamette Valley. This didn’t prevent us from paying almost $10 in shipping on a $9.95 product…sigh…but we didn’t have much choice in the matter. We ordered brandied marionberries, one of their top sellers. Marionberries are native to Oregon, and are a cross between a raspberry and blackberry. And they’re delicious!

We served them over vanilla ice cream. Delicious though they may be, when they’re brandied, they are strong. Whew! Can’t say we loved this, which bums me out given the cost. But it was alright.

National Brandied Fruit Day

Categories: Alcohol, Fruit | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.