Sunday, July 22, 2012

Better than Skinny Girl Cocktails

I tried the Skinny Girl Cosmo the other day - I shelled out $15 for 750 ml  of something that tasted like artificial sweetener.   I was a bit concerned because I don't tolerate Splenda very well - it gives me gastrointestinal distress. Since people call Splenda "natural", just like Skinny Girl cocktails are advertised, I looked for the ingredients list and there was none.  Evidently, alcoholic products don't have to list what's in them.   What I did find online indicates that it is "less than 100 calories per 4 oz. serving" and it is "sweetened with agave syrup", and the drink is about 24 proof - than means 12% alcohol.  And it got me thinking - couldn't I make regular light cocktails at home without resorting to funny tasting sweeteners?  And wouldn't it be more thrifty if I did?  The answer is a resounding "yes".

Each bottle of Skinny Girl should yield six  4 oz, drinks or so,  with a WW point value of 3-4 depending on the variety.  So that means each drink costs about $2.50!  Yikes.  It would appear that Skinny Girl is skimping on the vodka to minimize the calories because a shot of vodka is 4 WW points.   Also, vodka is 80 proof (40% alcohol), so to water that down to 24% proof, that means that roughly 1/4 of the drink is alcohol, instead of 40% or almost half.  Unless you are drinking shots, most alcoholic drinks are "watered down" in the same way.    For example, if I were to make a drink of diet tonic and vodka, here is how it would calculate, proof wise:

1 shot vodka (1.5 oz) (40% alcohol) = .6 oz alcohol
4 oz. diet tonic  (0 % alcohol)

total drink is: .6/4 = 15% alcohol or 30 proof. 

So the bottom line is that the consumer is paying Skinny Girl to water down her drink.   Why not make your own cocktails at home, and stick to the real ingredients that you want?  Not that I have anything against agave, but I'd just as soon sweeten my drinks with real sugar to avoid its metallic aftertaste.  And then, one can add your own water as she sees fit.....I like to add water by adding ice and club soda.   Another way to cut calorie corners is to make flavored simple syrups instead of sugary liqueurs to add to a drink.  Roughly, a shot (1.5 oz) of simple syrup is about .5 WW points. if you make your simple syrup a 50/50 ratio of sugar to water.   Flavor it with citrus peels and juice.    A liqueur like Triple Sec adds 3 points to a drink.  Here's my recipe for a great tasting simple syrup that can be used to flavor all kinds of drinks, from iced tea to lemonade to a lighter Cosmo...

Citrus Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 lemon
1 lime

Juice the lemon and lime in a small bowl, and add sugar and water and rinds from citrus.  Stir. Microwave for 2 minutes, stir again and allow to cool.  Store in the fridge.  Another way to add lots of flavor is to use small amounts of thawed fruit juice concentrate. I like to use cranberry cocktail concentrate in all kinds of mixed drinks. 

Here's my version of a lighter Cosmopolitan.   Note that one of the key features of a Cosmo is that properly made, it packs a wallop because of it's high alcohol content.  A regular Cosmo is 11 WW points.   My recipe is only 6 points.

Better Than Skinny Girl Cosmo
(serves 2)

3 shots premium vodka, like Grey Goose or Ketel One
2 shots citrus simple syrup  (see recipe above)
1 shot Rose's lime juice
splash of cranberry juice concentrate
orange rind

Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with crushed ice.  Shake for at least 30 seconds.  Pour into martini glasses.  With a vegetable peeler, peel 2 small curls of orange rind for twist garnish and add to each glass.  If you need a little more vodka, go ahead and add another shot....some days are like that.

Here's another great cocktail for summer - my version of a sea breeze.  I think that the club soda makes it taste even more refreshing. 

Bubbly Sea Breeze

2 T thawed frozen cranberry cocktail concentrate
1 shot vodka
club soda
lots of ice

Measure concentrate and vodka in a 12 oz. size glass.  Fill to the top with ice.  Add club soda and stir.
5 WW Points Plus Points, if you are counting them for a 4 oz (or more) drink, depending on your club soda pour.

I also enjoy the premium rum cocktail called "Dark and Stormy", and while I generally don't like artificially sweetened products as my cocktail mixers, I've noticed that diet Vernor's Ginger Ale (a Detroit favorite) is more of a spicy (not so sweet) ginger ale and the ginger flavor tends to makse the unpleasant aftertaste.  Spring for the best dark rum you can find for this drink.

Spicy Dark and Stormy
1 shot dark rum
Diet Vernors Ginger Ale
Lots of ice

Fill a 12 oz. tumbler with ice, add rum and ginger ale, stir.  4 WW points

Another great summertime cocktail is the mojito.   I keep a container of mint growing on my back porch just for this purpose.   It's very refreshing and pretty to look at in the glass.

Fresh Mojito
2 sprigs fresh mint
1/2 lime
1 shot citrus simple syrup (see recipe above)
1 shot light rum
club soda
lots of ice

Muddle one mint sprig's leaves in the bottom of a 12 oz. tumbler.  Juice the lime into the glass, and add rind half.  Add syrup and rum, fill glass with ice and club soda.  Stir, and garnish with the other mint sprig.  4.5 WW points - I round down to 4 LOL.


knowyourplace said...

Both the creators of skinny girl and the author of this piece should leave mixology to the mixologists.

Kathy Martell said...

Thanks for info. I can't tolerate sorbitol & was trying to find out what natural ingredients mean. I read on another site this product has been pulled in some stores because of trace amounts of sodium benzoate, which can cause cancer when mixed with vitamin C.

MomO4 said...

Hi. Can you tell me where you found the info about K using agave sugar? I can't find that anywhere. Anyhow, great post! Let me know if you'd like to re-post on

Jennifer Kaplan

Cynthia said...

Jennifer - I got the info about agave nectar from the skinnygirl website:

look under "margarita".

Thanks for the kind words about my post.

Anonymous said...

Cynthia, thank you so much for your ideas and great recipe for a very tasty simple syrup! Gonna let the phatty in me enjoy a few skinny cocktails!