Seriously. Do low-cal cocktails taste any good?
on 04/04/11 at 5:58 pmSpirits
For years, dieters have had to swear off minty mojitos and tequila-kissed margaritas. Sure, they could swill light beers or mix their rum and cokes with diet colas, but the holy grail of cocktails — fabulous mixed drinks with little umbrellas — were taboo.
That’s changing. Pre-mixed “skinny” cocktails are popping up on store shelves, thanks in part to reality television star Bethenny Frankel’s line of Skinnygirl spirits. Now major restaurant chains including Applebee’s, Chili’s, TGI Friday’s and Cheesecake Factory have begun offering reduced-calorie cocktails for those who like a drink or two but don’t want to pour 250 or more calories down their gullets at once.
With the U.S. diet industry topping $68 billion in 2010, it’s a smart marketing move. But the real question is, how do these cocktails compare to the real thing?
The first major restaurant chain to offer low-calorie cocktails was Applebee’s, which offers a 90-calorie mojito, a 100-calorie margarita and a 110-calorie Long Island iced tea. Applebee’s spokeswoman Stacy Griffis says the SkinnyBee drinks were introduced in January 2010, along with a series of entrees that were 550 calories or less.
Earlier this month, the Cheesecake Factory began offering its own lower-calorie Skinny-Style drinks and cocktails, including margaritas, mojitos, Long Island iced tea, cosmopolitans and red sangria. Each has 150 calories or less. The restaurant’s traditional drinks run about 300 calories.
It comes down to personal taste and, in the end, how much having a half-the-calorie cocktail matters to you when you’re out for dinner and drinks with friends.