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It is finally warm. After suffering through cold, rain, snow, sleet, hail, grumpy faces
and dripping noses, we are finally coming into Nature's crowning season — Summer. As
the days lengthen, socializing becomes more prominent in our minds. House-huddling loses
its appeal, and we reconnect with friends and loved ones (or those who owe us money from
Christmas loans), to celebrate warmth, sunshine and balmy breezes. This means booze.
But for many, firewater does not factor into the day. There are many valid reasons for
abstinence. However, if you have ever sampled tipsy toddies, you know that some, honestly,
taste very good! Sweet, fruity, tangy, chocolatey? absolutely droolicious. Seems a shame
to preclude them from one's summertime fun. This is (again) where the lowcarb life trumps
sugar-soaked survival? we are close chums with the right bits and pieces to recreate many
of those delicious concoctions without a hint of hooch or carbohydrates.
Mocktails are not new, but are nouveau. More frequently, people are seeking out lowcarb
and/or alcohol-free social indulgences. Traditionally, mocktails are made with fruit
juices, fruit purees, milk, sodas, chocolate syrups, coffee — things that make a lowcarber
run screaming. However, with the advent of delicacies such as sugarfree coffee syrups,
diet sodas and lowcarb milks, the concoction of carbohydrate and alcohol-free mocktails
of the most splendid nature is within reach.
- Mixing Utensils
Great drinks start with the right glass. Those cool glasses used in bars really
do enhance the libation experience. Well, recreate that at home! A shuffle through a discount
department store, kitchen store, restaurant-supply house or the vast online Universe, will
introduce you to an eye-watering variety of cheap, but attractive and durable glassware.
Z-stem martini glasses, hurricane glasses, Tiki mugs, Poco Grandes, funky Margarita stems?these
and more are available and affordable. Prowl the yard sales and thrift stores for interesting
and vintage offerings at very tiny prices.
For successful potation creation, you need equipment to spin the straw into
gold. A magic wand is optional, but a cocktail shaker is necessary. Stainless steel is lightweight,
durable, easy to clean and doesn't absorb odors. Glass models work too, but are heavier and can
break. Also, with stainless steel, you can easily detect when a chilled drink is perfectly combined —
the shaker gleams with frost and is refreshingly cold to touch. Plastic? Well, its good for kids
and the cheapskates among us, but pay the extra $3.98 and get something that works and will last.
Shakers come in a variety of sizes, so choose the size that fits your needs. I have a small one
for when it's just me riding the relaxation train and a larger one for when the train has passengers.
If you love frozen drinks, this one goes without saying. However, blenders vary so
wildly in price, design and quality that you need to do some serious comparison shopping. Carafe
sizes can vary somewhat, but the real factor to consider is materials. As for shakers, stainless
steel, glass and plastic are the Big Three. For my dollar — stainless. For the same reasons as
listed for stainless cocktail shakers. The downside to stainless, though, is that you can't monitor
the blending process without stopping and lifting the lid. For glass or plastic, it's a toss-up.
Glass retains heat/cold better and won't absorb odors, but plastic won't break and is much lighter
in weight. Shape of carafe is important, too. Avoid those with deeply inset blades. These don't
blend as efficiently as shallow-bottomed carafes. Also, I tend to prefer blenders that don't have
detachable blades. No gaskets or seams to leak. Motor — high power. Not only for speed, but for
ice crushing power and longevity. Wimpy motors will not successfully render ice cubes into the
downy slush of Daiquiri dreams. Read reviews, product specs and consider how you will use the
machine when it is not performing its primary function of blending your night's entertainment,
before you invest in something new.
Can you find them? Yes! Actually, many of the coffee syrup companies host an extensive
collection of recipes for using their products to create mocktails and other beverages. These are
free to access. Also, consider what you are making — "mock"tails. Springboard off standard cocktail
recipes to create their lowcarb doppelgangers. You won't be able to make everything, however, as
certain components currently lack suitable substitutes, but you'll be surprised at how many you can
make with some ingenuity. You can get cocktail recipes from a gazillion websites and three gazillion
print publications. Browse around and find formulas for old favorites and ideas for new experiences.
Then, its time to assemble the ingredients?
Now the fun really begins! What can you substitute for the standard painkillers?
Some liquors/liqueurs have direct substitutes available in lowcarb coffee-syrup form:
That's a pretty good start. Now, let's get creative. For others, there are reasonable replacements:
- Irish Cream
- Cr?me de Menthe
Some can be approximated using a combo platter of syrups. Fruit-flavored syrups like apple or
blackberry with a little caramel make fruit brandy mimics. Tailor spiced rum with rum syrup and
a splash of something zingy — chai, gingerbread, cinnamon, etc.
- Brandy - Caramel
- Pernod/Anisette - Anise
- Midori - Green Melon
- Frangelico - Hazelnut
- Peppermint schnapps - Peppermint (+dash additional sweetener, optional)
- Cr?me de Cacao - Chocolate
- White Cr?me de Cacao - White Chocolate
- Triple Sec - Orange
Stand-ins for scotch, bourbon and whisky are very problematic and I tend to avoid drinks using
these as the foundation. Vodka's placeholder can simply be water or flat club soda or diet tonic
water. Infuse any of these with juniper berries and you get something that somewhat resembles gin.
Not the best subs in the world, but they will do the trick, especially in recipes containing other
Sometimes you can press flavor concentrates or oils into service. You can get tequila, burgundy,
brandy, Jamaican rum, and many more? you'll need to experiment with these, though, to get the correct
dosage for a batch of drinks. Note: flavor oils will float on top of a standard mixed concoction.
In a blended drink, though, they disperse, so using tequila flavor oil for a frozen Margarita works
Will I divulge all my boozeless secrets? You must be joking. Actually, it is pretty easy to create
a good substitute many of the potent pleasures. Consider what they actually taste like and do a
little reading to discover the actual flavors you are experiencing. Then use the appropriate syrups
and/or flavorings to mimic the components. You may not be able to reproduce them exactly, but you
can often get close enough for government work.
What about the non-liver-rotting components? Those are easy, too. For soda mixers, just use the
diet versions. For fruit juices like grapefruit or tangerine, the corresponding diet soda may be
available. However, you can also use of the appropriate lowcarb syrup and for some juices, such
as passion fruit or pineapple, this may be the only possibility. For orange juice, there are several
lowcarb powders that do fine duty in mocktail making. Mix them a bit more strongly that the
directions indicate for best effect. You can find grenadine, maraschino cherry, lime and lemon
syrups, also. For cream, use? uh? cream. Combine coconut milk or heavy cream with coconut syrup
for cream of coconut. Cream and water makes milk or half-and-half, or use lowcarb milk or soymilk.
Lowcarb chocolate syrup/sauces mimic their high-carb counterparts. Club soda, sparkling water and
seltzer water naturally have no carbohydrates and diet versions of tonic water are available.
Tomato juice — dilute a little plain lowcarb marinara sauce with water. Brunchtime Bloody Mary's?
Don't neglect ready-made lowcarb bar mixes. You can find many options for Margaritas, daiquiris,
Pina Coladas, even Mai Tai and Long Island Ice Tea! Use them alone, with an alcohol sub like rum
syrup or spike with real alcohol, if you do imbibe. Just remember to stick with the standard
80-proof liquors like rum, vodka or gin, which contain no countable carbs.
A perfectly chilled beverage in a sparkling cocktail glass?the stuff of summer. Lowcarbers need
never forsake the Barcalounger, flip flops, and sunglasses experience because of their chosen
dietary ways. An after-dinner sip of something rich and creamy — Why not? A pitcher of tangy
Margaritas to accompany those sizzling mesquite-grilled steaks? the season is here. Assemble the
troops and make the most of it, in style!
Copyright © June 2004 Cerise Cauthron and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2004 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury