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Carb-conscious imbibers are shying away from sugary mixed-drink cocktails.


Sugar-free, low-fat, low-carb: There are many methods of attack in the on-going battle of the bulge, none of which co-operate with the rigours of a social lifestyle, especially around the holiday season. In an effort to shed those extra pounds, many Canadians are reducing their carbohydrate intake, and limiting their alcohol consumption. But cutting back on carbs no longer means barring yourself from the bar.


According to a recent Ipsos-Reid survey, 93 per cent of Canadians are highly vigilant about what they eat and drink and 25 per cent are currently on a weight-loss diet or would like to lose weight. Several breweries have introduced low-carb alternatives for a health-conscious population.

Bottles of Labatt Sterling were introduced across Canada in December 2003 in response to an increase in people opting for a low-carb lifestyle. With only 2.5 grams of carbohydrates and 88 calories per 341 ml bottle, it is one of the lowest-calorie beers on the market and was the first lower-carbohydrate beer available across Canada.

But beer drinkers aren’t the only ones seeking low-carb alternatives. Premium drinks company Diageo Canada Inc. has re-introduced some of its spirits in what they call the No Carb Bar. Zero carb spirits such as vodka, gin and whisky contain no carbs, making them the spirited beverage of choice for dieters.

“The great thing about Smirnoff, Tanqueray, Crown Royal and Johnnie Walker is that they are absolutely carb free and always have been,” says Mark Harding, vice president, corporate affairs at Diageo Canada. “Their taste remains original and true when combined with zero carb mixers.”

And what are these miraculous zero carb tonics? They include club soda, diet tonic and diet ginger ale, all beverages that maintain the zero carb content when added to cocktails. Although many dieters may opt to mix alcohol with fruit juice, they should be aware that an 8 ounce serving can add an average of 25 grams of carbs to a zero carb drink.

Another option for carb-conscious drinkers is the move toward “neat” cocktails or spirits served straight up (without mix or ice). “When a spirit is served pure, its complexities and nuances are more discernable,” says Harding. “Plus, it’s the easiest cocktail to prepare – just pour it in a glass and enjoy.”