I didn’t drink a whole bunch during the holidays, but I am on a diet with the aim of losing twenty pounds (to get my weight to 165), so I need to watch my liquor intake. No less a hard-core drinker like Kingsley Amis (who counsels, “the only requirement of a diet is that it should lose you weight without reducing your alcoholic intake by the smallest degree”), says that hard liquor “does, more than anything else taken by mouth, apart from stuff like cement, cram on the poundage.”
Nonetheless, I find it hard to believe that vodka packs on as much as weight as, say, beer or wine. An ounce of vodka contains about 64 calories. At eighty proof, I think you would need 1.25 shots to equal the alcohol in an average 12-ounce beer, so that would be 80 calories of alcohol. If you then add tonic or other sweeteners, the calories no doubt escalate, but if you restrict yourself to soda water and low-calorie items like lemon juice, there aren’t a lot of calories when compared to beer (average: 154 calories for twelve ounces) and wine (125 calories for five ounces). My main sweetening ingredient, simply syrup. contains 43 calories, which puts my typical cocktail slightly under wine (at 123 calories).
I’m slowly expanding my cocktail repertoire. I believe I have attained proficiency in the Tom Collins, the Moscow Mule, Electric Lemonade, and my own concoction, the Holiday Tom. Thanks to a generous in-kind gift from my mother, I am going to next try my hand at a variety of cocktails that call for Cointreau, Creme de Menthe, Tia Maria, or Grand Marnier. The problem is, I normally drink about two or three cocktails a week, so it will take me months to make much progress, but that’s alright. I’m in no hurry and I’m guessing the cocktailing fad won’t die out any time soon.