cocktails 101: for the acne-safe diet

when living the acne-safe lifestyle and adhering to the acne-safe diet, limiting your sugar intake is key! sugar, even in its simplest form, can cause inflammation. processed sugars like white bread, pasta and common table sugar can be some of the biggest culprits. here is a good article that breaks down to effects of sugar on the body.

so you’ve already vowed to leave the sugar out of your black tea every morning and cut down your late night pantry raid for dark chocolate to one night a week (or two)! however, there might be one thing you’ve yet to consider: those pitchers of margaritas, glasses of sangria and delicious summer shandy’s!

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while alcohol itself is made through the process of distilling sugar, there is no actual sugar left in the spirits once they have been distilled. FUN FACT: you can make alcohol out of ANYTHING that contains sugar, like this carrot eau de vie which would make for a deliciously vegetal bloody mary! so as long as the producer hasn’t added any sugar after distillation to reach a desired taste or color, drinking spirits straight is the best way to avoid the high sugar intake. however, the cocktail trend is on the rise and there are so many awesome cocktail-driven bars and restaurants, especially here in san francisco.  we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to give up a friday night out with friends for healthy skin!

there are plenty of delicious cocktail recipes that call for little to no sugar at all! even the notoriously sweet, and beloved, tiki drinks can be made to fit in with the acne-safe diet. you can still get the toy umbrella without the break out!

here are the most important things to keep in mind before you actually start drinking:

  1. EAT! eating before you drink is so good (and mandatory) for so many reasons. and we mean eat a MEAL, not snacks. chips and salsa for dinner before a night of scorpion bowls is not going to cut it, trust. the more protein and carbs you have in your belly, the less chances of you needing to have a friend hold your hair back while you puke up the whole night. kim’s favorite is to eat and drink at the same time at the many fabulous restaurant bars in the city – what other way is best than to socialize while sitting, drinking and eating delicious food at the same time?!
  2. HYDRATE. you definitely want to plan ahead and start drinking lots of water the day of (as well as during and the day after) drinking. the more hydrated you are, the less hungover (and sick + inflamed) you will be overall.
  3. REST. it’s important that you set your body up the best you can to get ready to receive the abuse that’s about to ensue (sounds rash, but it’s the truth). try to rest up the several nights prior to (and after) your night out. if you party too many nights in a row, you’ll likely get rundown, and combined with the stresses of everyday life (and the cold weather in winter! or SF summers for that matter), will almost guarantee a cold – and having to call in sick-to-work days.
  4. PLAN. like how we address your acne in-clinic, plan holistically. think about how many drinks you want to max out at (or how much money you want to spend) to avoid drinking too much. decide what drink of choice you’ll go with and stick to, to avoid mixing alcohols = nausea. and if you are going to go home with someone you meet at the bar, try and have in your bag (or car) at the very least, travel sizes of your acne-safe face wash and moisturizer so you can do your walk of shame with a clean face (sans slept-in-makeup-face) the morning after. and of course, your designated driver situation so that, you know, you arrive alive!

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WHEN MAKING COCKTAILS AT HOME:

lots of classical cocktail recipes call for simple syrup, a solution of sugar and water, as the primary sweetening agent. when making cocktails or other non-alcoholic drinks at home, try making your own simple syrup using stevia or coconut sugar instead of refined sugar! agave syrup can also be a good alternative to sugar due to it’s slightly lower glycemic index. you can also try cutting the simple syrup by 1/3 or 1/2, in most recipes it should work out ok.

here are some of our favorite at-home cocktail recipes that call for little to no sugar!

– a real homemade piña colada (not from a mixer that comes in a plastic bottle) either frozen or served over crushed ice, is sure to transport you straight to the island of puerto rico (even if it’s just in your head!)

the skinny margarita made with un-aged tequila (reposado and añejo tequila may have sugar added in the form of caramel coloring so always be sure to check the labels! FYI, this is common in whiskey as well) and this organic apple cider vinegar limeade drink with 0 grams of sugar makes for a deliciously tart margarita that won’t throw off your diet!

– this kombucha “moscow mule” has only 1g of sugar in each drink, PLUS tons of gut-healthy probiotics, so you can afford to have more than just one, or two, or..

– you can also keep it suuuper simple by mixing 1 part spirit and 2 parts sparkling water (plain a lá soda stream, perrier, etc or la croix!), with a squeeze of lemon or lime

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WHEN ENJOYING COCKTAILS AT A BAR OR RESTAURANT:

EAT. and DRINK WATER. (see above).

sugary ingredients, like juice and flavored syrups, can be over-used in some bars to appeal to the masses. additionally, these ingredients are more than likely masking a cut-rate spirit (aka well spirits, aka almost always the lowest quality stuff) that may be economic, but not very nice to sip on when served “neat.” (on their own, without ice or mixers),

– to avoid this, opt for the simpler cocktails on the menu, i.e. the ones without a million ingredients that are certain to have less sugar!

– always ask if the bar carries agave syrup and can substitute it for any use of simple syrup or raw sugar in your preferred cocktail. you can always ask if they can just use half the sugar, or make it less sweet.

– and when all else fails, beer is almost always the safest bet, sure to have less than a few grams of sugar in each serving!

whereEVER and whenEVER you are consuming alcohol:

it is always important to stay hydrated, but even more so when consuming alcoholic beverages! your skin, and tomorrow morning ‘you,’ will thank you for it. a good rule of thumb is one glass of water for every alcoholic drink consumed (we call these, “water bumpers.” try mixing it up with sparkling water instead of regular tap water, or soda water with a dash of bitters and lime juice. the combination is simple, hydrating and delicious!

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

here’s a great post on drinking from nerdfitness.com, with a paleo- and carb-watching edge.

K & L wine merchants in SF and redwood city are kim’s favorite purveyors of high-quality spirits. if you are going to drink poison, you might as well get the good shit!

bar agricole in san francisco is one of, if not the, best place in san francisco to get an education on spirits. any of the bartenders there are super knowledgeable and can help you discover a new spirit, drink or mocktail. and they are CRAZY about quality: for starters, they make their own bitters using local biodynamic grape spirit. (their sister restaurant trou normand is also fab, and are more charcuterie-centric).

the cavalier also in san francisco is a great place to imbibe while downtown. the bartenders are super friendly, and the food is great. the beef tartare is divine, and paleo! (when you eat it with the lettuce cups and skip the toast, that is).

yuzuki restaurant is one of kim’s restaurants that features an awesome selection of sake, which is a japanese spirit derived from rice. owner yuko and sake-sommelier yoshi will teach you the wonders of lovingly hand-crafted sake, which is worlds away from the hot sake that most think of. (if you have no clue about sake, watch the documentary ‘the birth of sake‘ – it’s beautifully filmed and really shows you the hard work that goes into to truly hand-crafted sake).

happy sipping!