Pour Me a Mocktail
One of the most enjoyable aspects of summer is the opportunity to “play” with friends and family. Yes, I said play—you may not be in a sandbox, but even as grown-ups, we like to play. For the summer enthusiast, this can include outdoor sports, picnics, reunions, camping, star-gazing or lounging by the pool. Though this list of activities is fueled by varying levels of energy, you have to remember to consume plenty of liquids, making sure that you’re staying hydrated. It is recommended that adults consume 9 to 13 cups of water a day, and in the summer, your hydration needs go up, just like the thermometer.
The great news is that all beverages hydrate, including those with caffeine, so you can vary it up with flavored water, juices, tea, coffee, diet soda, and more. If you’re looking for something with more punch, to make sure you’re clear-headed, can drive, and stay on track to shed a few pounds, your libation of choice may be a mocktail.
Mocktails are alcohol-free and were originally created as virgin versions of traditional cocktails. They’ve been around since the days of Prohibition but really began to pick up steam in the 1960’s and 1970’s, according to cocktail historian David Wondrich. As artisan foods and craft beverages have developed a niche in the food world, mixologists have sharpened their skills creating mocktails that earn high praise—they’re no longer relegated to a class of innocuous imitations of drinks from another era.
When you opt for mocktails, you’re also likely to be opting for a drink that’s lower in calories. Alcohol can be dehydrating and increase your calorie intake a lot—one 12-oz. beer has about 150 calories, and for every 1 -1/2-oz. shot of alcohol, you can count on adding 100 calories. Whether you’re entertaining or simply stocking up on beverages, look for low-and no-calorie options such as low-calorie fruit and vegetable juices, club soda, carbonated water, flavored water, and diet soda. Tips for creating your own signature mocktail:
- Start with quality ingredients—fresh local produce, herbs and freshly squeezed fruits or vegetables.
- Add some zip to plain ole water (if that’s your thing) and get creative with your ice cubes! Try freezing any flavor of vitaminwater zero into cubes, add a garnish of your choice and sip away.
- If you’re including coffee or tea, use one that is freshly brewed.
- To sweeten mocktails, you can make a simple syrup (recipe below) which will blend easily with the other ingredients.
Whether you’re planning to make your own or rely on a recipe, make sure you stock up on colorful paper umbrellas—what’s a summer drink without an umbrella garnish?
Here are some of my own favorite mocktail recipes:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
Combine water and sugar in medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool. Makes 1-1/3 cups. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator 8 to 10 days
½ cup (4 oz.) Minute Maid® Lemonade
½ cup (4 oz.) Sprite® Zero
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) mint mojito syrup*
1 mint sprig
Fill a 16-oz glass half full of ice. Add combined ingredients; stir. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Makes 1 serving.
*You can purchase a bottled mint syrup or do-it-yourself by adding mint leaves to simple syrup steep after the sugar is dissolved. Remove the leaves before storing.
Spicy Mango mocktail
in a tin, add 1 oz mango puree
½ oz lime juice
½ oz orange juice
½ oz honey and a pinch of chipotle seasoning
mango orange fruitwater
shake hard with ice and strain into a tall glass with ice, top with mango orange fruitwater, garnish with an orange wheel sprinkled with chipotle seasoning.
*a stevia simple syrup could be used in place of agave or honey.
Take Away: Staying hydrated is not limited to water. It can include an array of beverages. However, to keep calories in check, opt for libations with low- or no-calorie sweeteners.
Michelle J. Stewart is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator better known as the Nutrition Planner who has been leading the way to a healthier you for more than 25 years. Michelle is a Certified Wellness Coach whose motto is “EAT LESS MOVE MORE”. She is a consultant for the food and beverage industry, including The Coca-Cola Company, and offers expertise in corporate wellness, weight loss surgery, menu and product development. All opinions expressed are her own.