Cocktails_3 BrettMountain-4 lo

Good Spirits

Matt Carter mixes at Townhouse Birmingham

The holiday season is upon us, which means family celebrations, office parties, tropical vacations and ski trips.

For some, however, this equates to indulgent meals, delicious desserts and festive cocktails. When the social calendar gets busy or we take time off for extended vacations, we often fail to recognize the number of alcoholic beverages we actually consume in a given week.

While drinking alcohol in moderation is not detrimental to your waistline, consuming excess calories from sweetened, creamy and sugary drinks can pack on the pounds. The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that if alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation — up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. A standard drink size is 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine and 1½ ounce liquor. Keeping the size of your drink in check is critical for both your diet and your safety. In fact, your festive spirits may be more caloric than your lunch and dinner combined.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), on average:

■ a 12-ounce regular beer has 153 calories and a light beer has 103 calories

■ 5 ounces red wine has 125 calories and 5 oz. of white wine has 121 calories

■ 1½ ounce distilled spirits (gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, tequila) has 97 calories

■ 9 ounces pina colada has 490 calories

■ 8 ounces fruit daiquiri has 448 calories

So how can you keep your calories in check while still enjoying your favorite spirits?

Here are some of my tips on how to make healthier choices at the bar:


Sitting on a cruise ship enjoying a cool ice cream-filled cocktail or Hummer is refreshing to the palate but can add up to well over 500 calories. If you crave a creamy alcoholic beverage, consider the following swaps:

If your cocktail calls for ice cream, heavy cream, Baileys or whipped cream, ask for an alternative non-dairy ice cream or beverage such as almond, coconut, soy or rice milk. Substituting with a non-dairy beverage decreases alcohol content — and provides nutrition.

Try frozen Greek yogurt, which provides a boost of protein, or coconut milk ice cream, which provides healthy fats.

Limit the serving of whipped-cream topping to no more than 1-2 tablespoons (about the size of a ping-pong ball).


In life, we have to make choices. Whether we like it or not, we are all on a caloric “budget,” quite similar to our finances — it is important to decide where we want to spend our sugar “dollars.” By swapping out simple syrups and high-calorie sodas in cocktails, one can save hundreds of calories per beverage.

Swap out sugary soda for fresh juices or fresh fruit, such as pomegranate, cherry, cranberry and orange. This will not only lower calories but it will boost your vitamin, mineral and antioxidant intake. Adding fresh juice also adds color to cocktails without adding artificial colors, sweeteners or dyes.

Large amounts of sugar and alcohol may also disrupt sleep quality and lead to increased weight gain. When making a sangria or punch, try using unsweetened, fruit-infused spritzer/soda water in place of sodas such as Sprite.

Use an alternative sweetener (honey, Stevia, agave) in place of sugar. Consider limiting the amount of sugar in your cocktail and dust the rim of your glass with sugar instead of mixing it in.

Use fresh-squeezed lemon juice in place of lemonade.


Follow these tips to help start off 2017 healthy and happy, rather than attempting to lose the 5-10 pounds you gained between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

Alternate alcoholic beverages with a glass of hydrating water or unsweetened sparkling water. Not only will this help you stay hydrated after a long night on the town, it will decrease your alcoholic beverage intake and possibly your caloric intake from food.

Be mindful of the food you eat when you drink. Too often, we are less conscious of our food intake when sipping cocktails. Late-night eating, mindless munching and social meals all contribute to excess weight gain during the holiday season.

Although alcohol may initially help you fall asleep, it contributes to less restful sleep, night sweats, nightmares, headaches and frequent awakenings. It is best to limit or avoid alcoholic beverages 4-5 hours before bedtime, especially those that contain caffeine.

If you do consume alcohol late in the evening, be sure to do so on a full stomach and drink plenty of water to dilute the effects of the alcohol.

Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday season! *

We asked Matt Carter, libation leader at Townhouse Detroit and Townhouse Birmingham, to create a few health-conscious cocktails to help ring in the New Year. Based on the tips in this article, here’s what he came up with.

1½ ounces vodka
1 ounce pomegranate juice
1 ounce cranberry juice
½ ounce lime juice
½ ounce honey syrup (equal parts honey and hot water)

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake.
Strain into a collins glass (tumbler) over fresh ice.
Top with 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters.

1½ ounces rum
1 ounce coconut cream
5 ounces Amaretto
5 ounces orange Curacao

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake.
Strain into a martini glass. Grate nutmeg on top.


1½ ounces whiskey
5 ounces honey syrup (equal parts honey and hot water)
3 ounces Earl Grey tea
Lemon wheel, for garnish
Grated cinnamon to taste, for garnish

Combine all ingredients except tea into a tea cup or coffee mug.
Top with tea. Garnish with a lemon wheel and grated cinnamon.


By Stacy Goldberg, Special to the Jewish News

Photographs by Brett Mountain

Stacy Goldberg, MPH, RN, BSN, is a nationally recognized nutritional consultant, registered nurse and the CEO and founder of Savorfull (, a Detroit-based e-commerce company that sources nutritionist-approved healthy, allergen-friendly foods and provides nutrition-consulting services to businesses and sports teams across the country. Savorfull is part of the Quicken Loans Family of Companies. Look for more tips on eating well in her new JN column, debuting in the New Year.


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