Low FODMAP Cocktails – With Alcohol & Without From Susan Chatzky
From Robin: What do you get when you cross a descendant of an early female comedic trailblazer, Jean Carroll, a women and animal rights activist, a hostess that could rival Martha Stewart, an athlete and a philanthropist who gives with her money, time and heart? That would be my friend, Susan Chatzky.
I met Susan through her husband, Peter – who is a childhood friend of mine. Their marital antics and real life trials and tribulations shared with hysterical humor amongst their friends on Facebook gave me the first glimpse into a woman I have been so happy to get to know.
And now we get to introduce her to you! When we were thinking about who would enjoy and take on the challenge of creating a body of original, delicious and low FODMAP cocktails and beverages Susan sprung to mind.
Anyone who has had the privilege of standing in her kitchen as she orchestrates a 5-course-meal single-handedly at the same time as mixing ridiculously fabulous cocktails created with homemade ingredients and serving them to her guests you would know what I mean…
And now everyone will get a chance to enjoy getting to know a bit about her and enjoy her beverage and cocktail creations as well!
Dédé Wilson: Susan, Robin has spoken so fondly of you and your husband, Peter, whom she has known since high school. She has regaled me with stories about parties in your home and especially your cocktails, so we were thrilled when you agreed to apply your skills to low FODMAP versions! FODMAPers want to know what they CAN have and that includes beverages, both spirited as well as non-alcoholic.
Susan Chatzky: And I am so fond of Robin! One of my favorite weekends ever I got to spend some time in her garden eating straight off of the plants! I love a person who let’s me do that without looking at me funny.
Susan, tell us how you first came to be enamored of creating cocktails? Was it a drink experience?
I’ve loved to cook since I was a little girl. Probably because I really like to eat, and I don’t have the patience to wait for someone to feed me. I also get bored easily. I’m always looking for something new to try. A new ingredient, a different way to use an old ingredient…
Cocktails are not so different to me than food. They have smell, color, texture, and taste. Plus there’s something so sexy and mysterious about a beautiful, bright, liquid in a fancy glass. There’s nothing sexy about water in a Swell bottle.
What inspires you? Is it ingredients? A fancy glass, or maybe the occasion?
Frequently I get inspired by an ingredient. I’ll go to a Persian market, find something interesting, bring it home and play with it. I throw a lot out! But even more often it’s a person. Let’s say you told me you were really into dragon fruit; I would find a way to make a cocktail for you.
And most likely a salad, a sauce, and a dessert. Because while I love the process of making a recipe, the real fun is sharing it.
I can empathize. We are twins in the kitchen in this regard! When Robin reached out to you to create low FODMAP cocktails you knew nothing about the diet, so you’ve been on a crash-course! How has it been learning about the diet and then applying the limitations to your cocktail creation?
It’s very interesting. At first the ingredients seemed really random and almost counter intuitive. Who would have thought tomatoes would be fine, but only in certain amounts? But then it started to open up. The more I dug, the more ingredients I found.
There are so many ways available to add flavor, like using fresh herbs and spices. I made a pink peppercorn vodka that makes any cocktail exciting that I’m really into.
What have you learned during the process? What tips can you share with people at home who might want to play around creating low FODMAP drinks themselves?
This isn’t just for FODMAP, it’s for all recipe building – if you imagine it, try it! You can always throw it out.
Also, because many of the portion sizes are small for the diet, try choosing things with bold flavors. Beets for instance. The serving size for beet juice is ¾ of an ounce/20 g. But that little bit of liquid packs in a whole lot of flavor!
Combined with some citrus, a little bourbon, and a splash of water, you end up with a beautiful, jewel toned, bright drink, that looks spectacular in a martini glass.
In general I think you’ll see I use a lot of spicy ingredients. Jalapenos, wasabi, fresh ginger, star anise, and pepper will all make regular appearances. It’s because part of the balance of a cocktail is the heat the alcohol leaves in your mouth.
Think about a vodka martini. It doesn’t really have a taste. What it has is a certain warmth from the alcohol. Because the portion size of spirit in a FODMAP cocktail is between 1 and 2 ounces, I needed to replace the heat.
Also, in my mind, a cocktail should have visual appeal. Your glassware doesn’t have to be fancy, but you should enjoy looking at it. I have a bunch of tiny mason jars I serve drinks in that just make me happy when I see them. Buy things that make you happy even when empty, and you’ll be amazed how much better your drink tastes.
Can you speak about rum for a moment? It is a high FODMAP alcohol and I think a lot of people are saddened that they cannot make their favorite rum drinks anymore.
Do you have any suggestions for rum substitutions or an approach that might help with creating what are classically rum drinks?
Until you asked me this question, I put rum out of my mind. Which is really silly since my family is from Puerto Rico. So I thought about it and Rum is just malty/caramely vodka. I literally left my computer and went to my kitchen to create a rum substitute.
I made what I think totally works by combining 2 tablespoons of a burnt sugar simple syrup, 1 teaspoon of molasses, and 8 ounces (240 ml) of vodka. It’s totally yummy and will get the job done! (Recipe coming).
Are there any store-bought ingredients that have been really helpful? Any that you wish you could still use and were challenging to avoid?
I know there are so many people who would be horrified, but I don’t juice my own lemons or limes. I use quarts of both for cooking and drinking. I buy Realime and Realemon in giant bottles at my big box store. I also bought ginger juice on amazon. Ginger adds amazing spice to pretty much anything.
Interesting! We are fans of the frozen Minute Maid Premium Frozen 100% Lemon Juice. And we love the Ginger People Ginger Juice, which only contains ginger and citric acid!
Not using flavored seltzer was a challenge. I made a slew of flavored simple syrups that you can add to regular seltzer to get around it. Oh! Store bought bitters. I missed those, until I realized that bitters are just things like herbs or spices marinated in clear alcohol. I just made my own after that.
Talk to us a bit about your non-alcoholic drinks. When you entertain at home do you always include something a little fancy for the non-imbibers at parties? I have to say, as someone who doesn’t drink, it bums me out when I am only offered water. And don’t get me started if the only water is bubbly water!
Agua Fresca!!! A combination of fruits, cereals, flowers, or seeds, blended with sugar and water, there are sooo many options! I’m really loving cucumber and mint right now. I just put some cucumber and mint into my blender with water and let it go. I don’t even think it needs any sugar.
Yesterday was the first real warm day here in NY, and I drank the cucumber mint agua fresca all day while I worked outside. I also like bubbly water mixed with flavored simple syrups, the ginger simple syrup mixed into seltzer is outstanding.
Do you have a favorite cocktail from your newly developed low FODMAP drinks?
I made a cucumber wasabi gin gimlet that is crazy good if I do say so myself. Plus the color is spectacular. The way a drink looks is so important. It’s part of the specialness. I think having a good drink in a fancy glass is just fantastic! I think I’m repeating myself!
Susan, we are so thrilled to have you as part of our team. Salut!