Pet Peeve: “Just Add Ice!”

Heyyyyyyy-o! It’s been at least 12 hours since I got my undies in a bundle, but I’m BACK IN THE CRABBINESS SADDLE & ready to bitch.

Today’s drink-related gripe comes to us via Health.com. As you know, I’m a lady who reads a lot of blogs: newsy blogs, cooking blogs, design blogs, and ladyblogz (which always has to be spelled like that, FYI). A vestige from my “running*” days, Carrots & Cake is one of the subscriptions in my G-Reader. It’s not my intent to hate on C&C, which is great for its intended audience**; rather, I want to express my disappointment in a slideshow Tina Haupert created for health.com. Entitled “6 Ways to Enjoy Cocktails Guilt-Free,***” the piece offers tips for ladiez who want to ingest booze this holiday season but who DON’T WANT TO GAIN WEIGHT.

Ahhhh, yes: stock photos of holiday weight gain. Let the celebration begin!

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There’s nothing inherently wrong with this premise, I guess. I don’t want to gain weight this holiday season, primarily because doing so would require me to buy lots of new clothes, undermining my savings plan (which is already kind of undermined = ooops). What frosts me is the slideshow’s — and the author’s? — view of alcohol as simply calories, rather than a true source of pleasure.

Case in point: slide three (of six) instructs readers to “order it [cocktail] with extra ice.” Writes Haupert, “I like to order my cocktails with extra ice, since melting cubes dilute the drink.” Yep, it’s true: melting ice does dilute a drink, a result many imbibers hope to avoid. (Ever hear of whiskey stones?) Perhaps Haupert believes that the Volumetrics approach applies equally well to booze as it does to, say, Leafy Green Meals, but I don’t buy it. I’d rather have one appropriately sized, properly proportioned cocktail than five watery-ass cocktails. Who likes a watery cocktail? Anybody? Bueller?

Slides five and six (“Lose the Straw” and “Skip the Juice,” respectively) are slightly less misguided, but chafed me nonetheless. W/r/t slide five, I have to ask, Where are you drinking if all your drinks come with straws? W/r/t slide six, I have to ask, Where are you drinking if your booze is mixed with Sunny Delight? These tips might come in handy for someone who gets crunk at Chi-Chi’s, but have less value for people who drink in real bars or who mix their own drinks.

I’m gonna step on my SF Soapbox for a minute. Rather than finding ways to “cut corners” and “save calories” while drinking, reconfigure your approach to cocktails. Consider them the same way you consider food. (Aside: Tina hints at this in slide 4 (Think Before You Drink), but I’d like to elaborate.) You wouldn’t, for example, “stretch” a beautiful dinner by adding a bunch of soy isolates, would you? (If you would, we’re not friends any more.) Why would you “stretch” a cocktail by adding water? Like foodstuffs, cocktails are made according to recipes; adding water alters the intended composition of the cocktail, potentially ruining its flavor. I mean, doi.

Mmmmm, ice: just what I don't want in my cocktail.

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Clearly, where you drink impacts the quality of your cocktail. You’re not going to get a perfect Manhattan at your corner dive, but if you’re at your corner dive, you’re probably not in the market for a well-mixed drink, amirite?

My intent with this rant isn’t to invalidate the idea of watching what you eat/drink — after all, weight management is a personal issue. What I do hope to communicate, however, is that cocktails and food must be viewed as more than just calories. Admittedly, a mixed drink may be more caloric than a white wine spritzer (shudder), but it may also be more enjoyable: its flavor profile may be more complex, and it may incorporate more unusual ingredients. Consumption of such a drink will produce a different experience than chugging a bunch of lo-cal swill.

Eeeeeeew.

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The bottom line is this: if adding tons of ice to your vodka tonic will help you alleviate guilty feelings, don’t let me stand in your way. But, speaking for myself, one beautiful glass of scotch is far preferable to all the Skinnygirl margaritas in the world.

***

*Uh, because I was never really a runner runner — “jogger” is a more accurate descriptor.

**Which evidently includes Ladies Who Like to Wear North Face, Drink Iced Coffee, Talk About Their Husbands/Hubbs/Hubbies/Husbssss, and Live in the Northeast. Clearly, I don’t meet the criteria.

***I have some maaaaaaajor problems with the title: namely, the use of the numeral “6” instead of the written word & the placement of “guilt-free” after cocktails. But that’s cool. It’s not, but I’m gonna let it slide…as a footnote.

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