Low Carb Cocktails, from a Biochemist

A comprehensive list  is at the end.

All hard liquor has negligible carbohydrate content.  (Read:  zero carbs.)  This includes all brandy, bourbon, cognac, gin, rum (including black, gold and white), scotch, tequila, vodka, and any other whisky (and whiskey).  Even sweet tasting Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum has negligible carbohydrate content.

If liquor is low carb, why does a shot have 100 calories?  The answer is the human body metabolizes alcohol by a two-step enzyme-driven process resulting in a metabolite that gets fed into the citric acid cycle.  Insulin is not required for this process.  In ancient Rome before the advent of readily-available insulin, diabetics were given dry wine instead of food to help them maintain body weight.

As for garnishes, olives, onions, and lime and lemon twists and wedges have negligible carbohydrates.  Lime juice, lemon juice, and Angostura bitters also have low carbohydrate content.

Beware liqueurs, which are highly sweetened and often used as mixers and for desserts.  These include Benedictine, Campari, Cointreau, Drambuie, Kahlua, Grand Marnier, Southern Comfort, and triple sec.  Many cocktails that use these ingredients can be made lower carb by halving the mixers and doubling the liquor.

Also beware premixed cocktails, like Fireball and Cannonball.

Best Low (Near zero) Carb Cocktails:

  • Any hard liquor served up, straight, neat, or on the rocks (with a lime or lemon, wedge or twist)
  • Dark ‘n’ Stormy with Diet Goslings Ginger Beer
  • Dry Gibson (with cocktail onion)
  • Dry Martini (with olive or lemon twist)
  • Gin and Diet Tonic (with lime wedge or twist, or dash of lime juice)
  • Gin and Fresca (Fresca is diet/zero-carb.  There is no regular Fresca.)
  • Gin and Diet Orange Seltzer Water
  • Moscow Mule with Diet Cock n’ Bull Ginger Beer
  • Rum and Diet Coke (or Coke ZERO) (with lime wedge or twist, or dash of lime juice)
  • Seagram’s 7 and Diet 7-Up (with lime wedge or twist, or dash of lime juice)
  • James Bond’s Vesper (with lemon twist)
  • Vodka and Diet Tonic (with lime wedge or twist, or dash of lime juice)
  • Vodka Martini (with olive, onion, or lemon twist)


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