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Demonizing Sugar in Cocktails

Let me first of all say - that I really like diffordsguide.com. I don't agree with everything - but Simon Difford is one of the guys, which I very much respect - and he has a reasonable view.

However when I read the latest article [I got the newsletter - as RSS is pretty much dead, this is the way, how I get news...] - I really got quite annoyed:



Why I got upset you might want to ask? Well just read on.

Basically the article states, that sugar is bad for you. Even worse than the monosaccharides combination - is the fructose part. The article states even, that agave syrup, is pretty much nasty. So far, so good - well done - you have shipped around the cliffs of following the tree-hugging vegans, who are demonizing white sugar, but then suggest agave syrup as healthy alternative!

But what is bad with the article is, the typical contemporary bluntness. >>There is something bad in our diet - oh yes, lets replace it and not changing our behaviors!<<
The article lists several sweeteners - scientist are arguing very hard about this point - sweeteners are not at all considered as healthier than sugar - because it will confuse your body. In simple words it is like works: you still taste sweet, and the body is starting the machine to use up the blood sugar - however there is no sugar - that can be used... that results into a void of and too low blood sugar, which results again into cravings [and possibly a higher conversion of carbohydrates, when you eat].
Besides of that, there is a lot of evidence that chemical sweeteners can have quite nasty side effects [and natural sweeteners like stevia can have also side-effects - e.g. I quite have run to the next loo and spend quite some time there, when I get too much of it].

The article further goes on with the notion, that we are balancing bitterness with sweetness.
Really? How many classic [and not so classic cocktails] are made without bitters? 
Salt can counter bitterness - sugar is creating with bitterness a good combination. And cocktail bitters should never be "bitter" in a drink [Aperitif bitter liqueurs though like Campari are "really" bitter.
Nope! Sugar in drinks have a completely different effect:
  • Counter watery taste
  • Smoothens out harsh alcohol tastes
  • Support mouth feel
  • Improving [and amplify] overall flavor
Not one of these points can be achieved, if you using less bitters - but essences instead!

There are other points, which are plain wrong in the article:
  • Creme de cassis can be substituted with pomegranate concentrate...
Really? The writer seems not to have any idea, what she is writing about! Pomegranate is a very tart and slightly bitter fruit - similar to cranberries. If you are concentrating pomegranate juice, you get pomegranate molasses, which doesn't have the amazing fruity berry aromas of Crème de Cassis, nor can it give anything, to balance out acidity in the cocktail! It is just a completely different product - no substitution. Maybe she meant, pomegranate nectar [or a juice, mixed with a sweeter fruit] - however a concentration would exactly end up like any "Crème liqueur" spiked with sugar.

Another usual [but annoying] misconception is that:
  • Sugar from natural ingredients is ok [juices].
This is where most people are wrong! Fructose is fructose - and if it comes from an apple, it is pretty much as bad [as "poison"] as it would come from refined white sugar!
Apple juice - is almost as bad as your commercial soda [as long as it is natural soda] - quite a high fructose ratio, very high in sugar.
The only exception is: if you are not juicing the fruits. Funny enough, if you eat fruits, the fibers [and pectin] in the fruit are counter the unhealthiness of the sugar. In a drink, however we have very limited application of 100% puree cocktails...

So what is my solution?

We have to keep in mind, that we don't do something healthy for ourselves, when we are drinking! This is just a matter of fact. There are similar stupid suggestions, that we should drink white spirits, because they are [slightly] lower in calories [and stuff] - and these articles I do dismiss as the above stated one.
Why can't we just indulge in moderation? 

Yes, I hate these type of articles, because they are just demonizing one ingredient and try to ship around it with half-baked substitutes. Alcohol is worse than sugar. So why don't we just have not every day a cocktail but twice a week? And instead of drinking ourselves comatose, we have a couple of drinks - and have a lot of water in between?!
This is the real solution. 

Additionally we should take care of ourselves [read more labels of food items!]. I think the worst things of our everyday life, are not occasionally the chocolate bar, which you know, isn't good for your. Or the cocktail. The worst things are the hidden sugars, fats, chemicals, which are delivered by you, with every convenience [ready made or half ready made] product out of the supermarket.
The worst part is, that the product, which claim to be better with you [lite products - fatfree, sugarfree you name it] are usually the worst: sugarfree means, that they usually add fat, besides of artificial sweeteners and a ton of other food additives. And fatfree usually means, that they add sugar [or HFCS] and a ton of other food additives.

But I honestly believe, that a couple of cocktails a week, won't bring you anywhere near of a hospital!

And one more thing: in the last two competitions I was a judge, bartenders added far too much sugar to their drinks. Obviously this also doesn't make any sense! Through the recipes, they usually used around 10 ml of lemon/lime - but then 40 up to 60 ml of syrups and liqueurs. 
I like it sweet, but this was even too much for me. Hence we also have to be conscious about how much sweetness we apply - classic cocktails is though a great orientation!

And new techniques could also help. Instead of making a frozen strawberry margarita/daiquiri with tons of sugar to counter the dilution, we could either way frozen strawberries [instead of ice], to get a more concentrated aroma - or we could use liquid nitrogen to freeze the cocktail, without a lot of ice. First of all shake the daiquiri/margarita with muddled or pureed strawberries. Then strain it into a blender and add 150 ml liquid nitrogen to it. Blend it until slushy... and that's about it!

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What do you think? Should we now add no more sugar into cocktails in the advent of obesity and health issues? Would it make a difference? Any other suggestions?





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