Vintage cocktails are undeniably the booze craze of the moment. Blame it on Mad Men. Blame it on "getting back to our roots" and people starting victory gardens once again. Blame it on books like Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. But classic cocktails are back in a big way.
And although you may feel highly cultured and quite elegant sipping on your French 75 -- and certainly above all the plebes downing Jaeger bombs and pounding Bud Light on draft -- you should keep one thing in mind: Just because that cocktail comes in a pretty glass and cost you $10 doesn't mean it's any better for you than a regular old margarita.
Liquor is one of the most carb- and calorie-laden things we can put into our bodies with very little payoff other than the temporary feeling of being smarter, more attractive and occasionally invincible (emphasis on "temporary" and "feeling.").
There's a term for this in the nutrition world: empty calories. Sure, 250 calories for a drink doesn't sound bad in principle until you realize that No. 1, you aren't going to drink just one of those Sidecars and No 2., your body is getting absolutely no nutrients from those calories, and therefore you've just wasted that caloric intake and will have to eat or drink something at least moderately healthy to make up for it.
Below is a list of five of the most high-calorie vintage cocktails out there, as well as suggestions for alternatives if you're still in the boozing mood.
5. French 75: 175 calories, most of them from sugar and gin (which isn't the highest-calorie liquor you can drink, although it's up there). Instead, try a mimosa. You'll still get a sweet drink with a splash of champagne, but you'll also get some Vitamin C from the orange juice and fewer calories overall.
4. Vodka Martini: 210 calories, which can be slightly decreased if you leave out the olives. A gin martini has fewer calories, clocking in at 125 (without olives). You can also try a gimlet, which has around 110 calories and comes with a tiny Vitamin C blast from the lime juice.
3. Sidecar: 225 calories, which come from mixing two high-calorie liquors -- Cognac and Cointreau -- in one delicious drink. Instead of a Sidecar, try its cousin: the Brandy Daisy. It replaces the Cointreau with grenadine, which -- while still sugary -- doesn't pack quite the same caloric punch as an orange liqueur does. (Of course, if you get the type of Brandy Daisy that subs chartreuse for Cointreau, you're still striking out.)
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2. Singapore Sling: 240 calories, most of which come from gin and all that sugar (cherry brandy, Bénédictine and Cointreau, plus some pineapple juice and grenadine for good measure). Try a Gin Daisy instead, which is very similar to the Brandy Daisy described above. You're still getting the grenadine and the lemon juice (and the gin, of course), but with fewer overall calories -- plus an orange slice, just like when you were playing soccer as a little kid.
1. Mai Tai: 310 calories, although a Zombie (at 254 calories) isn't much better. These two are the beasts of the high-calorie classic cocktail brigade. Sure, drinks like pina coladas and Long Island iced teas are far worse, but those aren't exactly classics. Yet. (We cringe at the thought of a future where our grandchildren are referring to LITs as "classic cocktails.") Instead of wasting all those calories on a drink that's only going to remind you that you aren't on a beach somewhere, get a Rum Swizzle instead. You're still enjoying rum -- although not nearly as much of it -- and tropical juices in your drink, but you're knocking off at least 100 calories and you get the warm fuzzies from the falernum that's used to spice it up.