Navigate The Cocktail Menu: Order Guilt-Free


I basically never order a cocktail as is when I go out.  I’m pretty much that annoying person who asks a thousand questions about what is in the drink I want and then I ask them to change it.  I want to know what type of sugar is added, is there sugar added to the fruit puree, do they use that sweet lime stuff instead of fresh lime (why?!?) and what other sneaky little sugar bombs could be hiding in the drink.

SO many cocktails are made with fruit purees- which would be great if they were simple, pure purees with nothing added.  But that is usually not the case- they *usually* mix in a syrup of some type which takes an innocent fruit and turns it into a mean little calorie bomb that will spike your blood sugar.

I don’t know about you but if I am going to have a drink, I want to have a drink I know I can feel better about- something I know doesn’t have a meals-worth of calories in it!  I want to have the cleanest version of a drink I can get, and I work the bartender to get it.

Most bartenders, as I have discovered, really dislike making their cocktails differently.  Like their precious recipe is SO important that they are unwilling to give a paying customer what they ask for.  It’s annoying, but its fine because I just return the drink until it is made correctly- they are the ones making it hard on themselves!  You shouldn’t settle if something you order is not right or isn’t what you asked for when dining or drinking out- you are paying for it so don’t settle for something wrong.  Having worked at a restaurant when I was a teenager, I know that sometimes servers and bartenders just forget a request once in a while- because we are all human- so it really is FINE to get what you ordered made correctly, that is why you chose to dine out.  Just don’t be a dick about it- be nice, smile and get your order made correctly.  OK rant over, back to the cocktails….


When I look at a cocktail list there are usually a few cocktails types that catch my eye:

  • Any version of a spicy margarita
  • A gin drink with cucumber and citrus
  • Anything with basil

From there I ask if any of it is pre-mixed and if any fruit purees are used.  If the drink if pre-mixed, I don’t order it, I move on to another that looks good.  If there is fruit puree in the drink, I ask if there is added sugar put into the puree (fruit it sweet enough- it rarely needs sugar added to it, but so often…it it).

I then ask if  fruit can be muddled in the drink instead- muddling ensures its just pure fruit and not a super concentrated sticky sweet juice.  I also ask about the citrus juice, to make sure it is FRESH juice and not a pre-sweetened version.

Another thing that adds sugar to your cocktail is a liquor- not vodka, gin, etc…the fancy liquor a la St. Germain (a personal favorite of mine).  Liquors add flavor and a hint of sweetness to balance out a drink.  If a drink has a liquor in it, I ask for “just a splash” and then NO additional syrups or added sugars.  For me, the splash of liquor is just the perfect amount of sweet in my drink: just enough to balance the cocktail but not enough to make it taste “sweet”, know what I mean?


I like my drinks heavy on the citrus- lemon or lime- and super zesty….so I also tell that to the bartender so they understand I know what I am asking for!

If you like your drinks with a bit more “sweet” than I do, stick with agave nectar or a “splash” of simple syrup- just be sure to let them know to go easy on the sweetener.  Cutting out a little of the added sugar can go a long way!

Don’t be afraid to be the boss of what you order 😉  It’s your $15 cocktail, so you deserve to enjoy it!

XO Katrina



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