Low Calorie Libation: Skinny Girl Cucumber Vodka
get the skinny.

It turns out you can have your cake and it eat it too, if by cake you mean booze. Reality television star, author, and entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel’s Skinnygirl® Cocktails brand has exploded from a few premixed basic adult bevs, like the margarita and mojito. Her brand was acquired by bourbon behemoth Beam Inc. and expanded into a full line of low-calorie sips for us lushes looking to maintain our girlish figures.

Skinnygirl® Ready-to-Serve Cocktails,  Skinnygirl™, The Wine Collection, and Skinnygirl™ Vodka with Natural Flavors all contain zero fat or protein (duh), and the vodkas in particular are 76 calories or less, with zero carbs (per 1.5 oz. serving). The lite premium vodkas are 60 proof (30% ABV), and do pack a delicate little kick, to keep a bubbly buzz going, but keep a lady from getting puking-in-her-handbag drunk.

A Huffington Post panel of varied tastes tried all sixteen of the brand’s offerings, with mixed results. It seems like the more complex and rich the expected flavor, like the coconut version, the less enthusiastic folks were about the low-cal cocktail. It’s lucky then that my first experience with the brand was the simple Skinnygirl™ Cucumber Vodka. A friend was serving up the spirit with a clean classic combo of club soda and ice– it was like the freshly washed linens of drinks. I was really surprised at how refreshing and crisp it was. The taste wasn’t overwhelming, the way “flavored” beverages can often be, and it seems like it could pair well with a lot of popular mixers with great results. I’ve been trying to figure out how to mix up an invigorating cucumber lemonade or a splash of Midori for a cucumber melon martini, but in the meantime here are a few of the Skinnygirl suggestions to get you started.  (Don’t underestimate the simple pleasure of cucumber vodka and soda, though, it’s like a spa cocktail…a Spocktail? No…)

THE STARLET

  • 1½ parts Skinnygirl™ Cucumber Vodka
  • 2 parts club soda
  • Splash of no-sugar-added cranberry juice

Combine vodka and soda over ice. Top with cranberry juice. Garnish with a lime wedge or cucumber slice.

SKINNYGIRL™ CUCUMBER REFRESHER

  • 1½ parts Skinnygirl™ Cucumber Vodka
  • 4 mint leaves
  • 1 large basil leaf
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 3 parts soda water
  • ½ tsp. agave nectar

Squeeze lime wedge into rocks glass. Muddle lime wedge with mint, basil leaves and vodka. Add ice. Top with soda water. Add agave nectar and stir. Garnish with lime wedge.

SKINNYGIRL™ GINGER QUEEN

  • 2 parts Skinnygirl™ Cucumber Vodka
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 parts diet grapefruit soda

Pour vodka into a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with diet grapefruit soda. Grate ginger over the top and stir.

 Note: I couldn’t quite shake that I recalled some kind of controversy over the brand and a quick  search refreshed my memory. In 2011, green grocer Whole Foods pulled the Skinnygirl Margarita, a pre-made cocktail mix, because despite the assurance that it was “all-natural” and “preservative-free” the product contained sodium benzoate.  The FoodTrainers blog explains that  the CSPI, The Center for Science in the Public Interest, ranks additives and puts sodium benzoate in the “caution” category. “The real danger occurs when sodium benzoate is combined with ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C). The two combine to form benzene which is linked to leukemia and other cancers. Many fruits, including the limes in Skinnygirl margaritas, contain ascorbic acid.” Skinnygirl says they use a “minuscule amount” of sodium benzoate but the CSPI notes that though it presents a very small risk of cancer, “there is no need for consumers to experience any risk.” Do with that info what you will. Casandra Armour

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