LOW ABV AND LOW-SUGAR COCKTAILS FOR JANUARY
With the frantic festive season over and many people looking for more low-sugar and low ABV serves, leading NYC bartender, Ivy Mix, gives us the low down on how to produce the perfect cocktails to please the calorie-conscious customer this January.
Why low ABV and low-sugar cocktails?
Over the past few years, there’s been a growing demand for low ABV and low-sugar serves. From Brooklyn to Houston and Singapore to Mexico City, more and more low ABV and low-sugar options are appearing on menus. That being said, the ones I’ve tried have been a real mixed bag! Reducing the alcohol or sugar content can make it harder to structure a cocktail, as it is essential that the drink retains that all-important balance. It’s all about how the flavours are mixed and the proportion of spirit used in the serve.
Sometimes, after the holidays when everyone has "given up" drinking cocktails due to a long haul of heavy eating and festivities, it is nice to offer low ABV and low-sugar cocktails as an alternative. After the holidays, I like to have mocktails and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as lower ABV and lower sugar serves on my list. This allows a variation of serves for every customer.
There’s a huge selection of low ABV cocktails. I see lots of so-called “sangria” variations, and plenty of beer-based cocktails which are increasingly taking over from traditional fortified wine cocktails like the Bamboo. With all of these, I recommend adding a small amount of higher proof spirit to give a stronger flavor. Instead of simple syrup, try using flavors with more impact, such as cinnamon. In place of orange bitters, you could use an aromatic bitter, or throw some stronger modifiers in there, like amaro.
Another trend I see quite a lot is customers asking for something that isn’t too sweet, which can sometimes be a tricky request. It goes without saying that alcohol has sugar in it, and we have to use sugar to make a drink well-balanced, but you can get around adding additional sugar by using products which are already naturally sweet. Fruits contain plenty of natural sugars and liqueurs and cordials can add flavor and sweetness without any additional sugar. I also like to put other natural sweeteners in a cocktail, such as maple syrup, honey and agave, instead of relying heavily on refined sugar. Of course, all of these alternatives still contain sugar – the aim is to lower the sugar content, not remove it altogether.
Top tips for creating low ABV and low-sugar serves
Creating the perfect low ABV and low-sugar serves can be tricky to begin with, but it is important to have a balanced variety on your menu. Having five or six options, each with a different flavor profile, will ensure there’s an option to suit the needs of every customer.
Here are my top tips on how to create the perfect low ABV and low-sugar serves:
- Use other sweeteners, such as agave or maple
- Use liqueurs to sweeten the serve instead of sugar
- Stay away from refined sugar
- Flip the ratio – create classic serves, such as a martini cocktail, but use more vermouth than base spirit
- Sherry is delicious! Use it more when creating cocktails
- Always use a small amount of base spirit in order to add a backbone of flavor to the serve
Serves for you to try
Here are some perfect examples for you to try out in your bar:
2 oz PIMM’S
1/2 oz TANQUERAY LONDON DRY GIN
1/2 oz ginger syrup
Dash of angostura bitters
Muddle 3 lemon wedges, 2 strawberries, 2 cucumber discs and 8 mint leaves in a tin.
Shake and fine strain into a glass
Top with soda
Garnish with some cucumber slices and a mint sprig
(2.0 standard drinks*- 2.2 units per serve)
Johnnie Walker Red Label and green tea
1 oz JOHNNIE WALKER RED LABEL BLENDED SCOTCH WHISKY
3 oz green tea
1 wedge of lemon
Fill a glass with ice
Fill a highball glass with ice cubes
Add Johnnie Walker Red Label Blended Scotch Whisky to the glass and stir
Using a jigger, measure 1 oz JOHNNIE WALKER RED LABEL into the glass and stir with a bar spoon
Top up with green tea
Garnish with a lemon wedge
(1.0 standard drinks – 0.8 units per serve)
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(*One standard drink contains 8g of alcohol)
PLEASE NOTE *Content of pure alcohol varies between countries