Everyone knows that traditional mofongo and empanada recipes are full of fat, but when it comes to drinks, people blissfully forget they are chugging empty calories hidden behind the alcohol and sweet liquors. Thankfully, chefs from restaurants like Enduro and Bongos Cuban Cafe experiment with lighter drink recipes everyday for the figure-conscious connoiseurs. These Monaco Margaritas, Chile Passion Caipirinhas and Surfer Sangrias prove that we don't have to sacrifice our favorite happy hour drink for the sake of our health.
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At Gloria Estefan’s Miami hotspot Bongos Cuban Cafe, the Triple C (Calorie Conscious Cuban) offerings extend to the cocktail menu, too. For their low-cal Coconut Mojito, muddled mint leaves are mixed with fresh coconut water, coconut puree (instead of high calorie crème de coconut), rum, and splenda for a great guilt-free beverage.
Muddled lemons are the main flavor base for the Lemon-Thyme Vodka Lemonade, created by the mixology team at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Latin-inspired small plates restaurant ABC Cocina. Instead of using high calorie lemon-lime soda, the homemade lemon syrup is infused with the fresh flavor of thyme for a full and fresh flavored cocktail that pairs perfectly with spicy dishes.
La Cenita, in New York City's Meatpacking District, features a tequila-focused cocktail menu that steps outside the traditional lines of what you’d expect. For the Pancho Villa, mixologist Billy Potvin sweetens mezcal with unprocessed pure maple syrup and uses a small amount of fresh lemon juice instead of high calorie triple sec for a modern twist on a traditional margarita.
Enduro's sommelier, Seth Liebman, describes the Massican Margarita as a pure version of the classic Mexican favorite. To showcase the drink, which was lemon based and not lime based, the flavors of Massican Vermouth are crisp and floral and play very well with tequila. The final result is a cocktail that is fresh and uplifting instead of dense and syrupy.
At celebrity chef Marc Murphy’s Ditch Plains restaurant, homage is paid to surf culture and since the food is honest and clean, the Ditch Plains’ crew feels the drinks should be, too. In this Surfer Sangria brandy, sugar and soda are replaced by calorie-conscious fruit nectars for a fresh and light sipper that will transport you right to the beach.
The People’s Last Stand in Dallas, Texas is a craft cocktail bar whose motto is “Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” That motto extends to their drinks. Only premium ingredients are used in everything they prepare. Their signature drink is the Straight to Hell and it calls for muddled jalapeño and basil for maximum flavor without added sugar and calories.