Cold Drink: No Calories

glass_bottle1Frying-pan-hot late summer days make the words “gin-and-tonic” seem perfect. But the carbohydrates in liquor makes it a drink of the past. I needed something new, refreshing and tasty.

Gone are the days I’d start off with a Diet Coke at breakfast–although the caffeine jolt and brain freeze did wake me up fast. Iced coffee and tea are great, but I can drink only so much tannin without wondering if my gut is going to be used to make a Birkin.  So I began to explore drinks that I can sip, gulp, quaff, and chug cold and in quantity without packing on calories and without the cardboardy, acidy taste I get from tubed drink mixes.

So I tried something so simple, so easy, I can’t believe how good it is. Take a glass, put in as much ice as you love, and then add 3-5 drops Angostura Bitters. Fill with club soda or selzer. It’s a perfect drink. Clean, crisp, refreshing, bubbly, and a great herbal taste that’s interesting but not overwhelming. Goes with sushi as well at with PBJs. (I’m not a fan of milk with PBJs. Suit yourself).


    Gentian, known for its blue color and delicate flavor.

Gentian, known for its blue color and delicate flavor.

Angostura Bitters are a bar staple.  They aren’t really bitter, the word is derived from aromatic concoctions that contain gentian–a flowering herb that is used in perfumes. It’s also been used as a malaria cure and insect repellent. Versatile plant. Bright blue flowers. Gentian is bitter, but there is a lot more than gentian in bitters–a mix of aromatic herbs that is lovely in smell and dark brown in color.

I originally used the bitters for tea-staining  papers, because it worked faster and was darker than tea,  and I loved the smell. I swear, if they made this substance as a fragrance, I’d wear it every day.

But until then, I’ll use a few drops over fresh strawberries and in my soda-and-bitters. It’s an inexpensive joy that pays off in big taste and no calories.

Quinn McDonald is counting the days until she no longer drinks a gallon of liquid a day just to keep up with sweating. She no longer remembers a time when the nape of her neck wasn’t wet 24 hours a day.


16 thoughts on “Cold Drink: No Calories

  1. Hello Quinn, I have given up the demon liquor in my life for much the same reasons you have….too much sugar and my last trip to the doctor. I am not diabetic but too close so I’m getting my act together.
    I went straight to the liquor store and bought some of those bitters. Last night I sat down after a hard weekend selling snow cones with the grandkids and had myself a refreshing club soda and bitters. It was just as you said. Very satisfying. Thanks, Quinn!
    I’m going to try some of the other suggestions too.

    • Bitters are also good in a simple rice-wine vinegar and oil salad dressing. A few shakes, not a whole lot. I love that you had a hard weekend selling snow cones with your grandkids. Wonderful lessons and fun all the way around, I hope.

  2. Interesting. I might have to try it. I checked Demeter Fragrance, thinking that if ANYONE had created a Bitters perfume, it would be them. No dice, but they do have a few herbal fragrances, like Basil or Tomato.

  3. My hubby eats two oranges every day. Before he cuts them up, I scrub the rinds with soap and water; I give ’em a really good scrub. Then when he’s done eating the oranges, he cuts up the rinds in small pieces, which go into a ziploc baggie in the freezer. When I want a refreshing cold drink, I fill up a glass with frozen orange rind pieces and pour in club soda. Yum! When we had a Meyer lemon tree and more lemons than we could use or give away, we would juice the lemons and freeze the juice in ice cube trays. Club soda + Meyer lemon juice cubes = delicious.

  4. Well, now I’m inspired to run to the store and get the bitters! I have an infuser that I love to try new combinations in. Rosemary and fruits such as blueberries or watermelon are really good steeped together. Very refreshing and no sugar!

    • That sounds interesting! Bitters come in bottles with a dropper top, so they are all ready to go. And there are hundreds of different kind of bitter. I like the Angostora ones, but there are blood orange bitters, herbal bitters–a huge variety.

        • Grocery stores in Phoenix have liquor sections, fully stocked with beer, wine and hard liquor, including a section of tools and additives. So I get mine there. But for a bigger selection, go to a liquor store.

  5. I followed the link about the Birkin, having no clue what it was. The first paragraph assured me I had heard of it, and it had to do with something called Hermes. Which I gather is a company. Reading on I discover they make scarves, shawls, and bracelets (*shawls?!?*) and to get one of the bags, which I gather one is very much expected to covet, all you have to do is also buy $2000 worth of other stuff too. And if you do this 130 times over three months (with the $260,000 you dug out of your cushions) you’ll be able to get 130 of the things, and then write a book about it. My head is about to explode.

    • Well, I’m not turning my stomach over to just *any* leather company. The Hermes Birkin bag has a waiting list that’s huge and is extravagantly expensive *because* it’s Hermes. I have several handmade bags that I’m sure are just as fine a leather and handmade by the artist. Which, I might add, cost me considerably less. It’s all about the celebrity of the name. Snob appeal. Something else that confounds me.

  6. Insect repellent, malaria cure, bar ingredient, soft drink flavor, proto-perfume…this is that legendary stuff you pour in your tank and never have to gas up your car again, isn’t it?

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