Please note that I am wary of all drinks that have the word “diet” attached to them. I’m not much of a soda drinker, anyway, but for the two times a year I actually crack open a Sprite or Coke, I always go for the full-sugar stuff. I just can’t stand that bitter saccharine aftertaste that most diet drinks entail.
All of which is to say, when my server at La Calaca Feliz, Fairmount’s nine-month-old Mexican joint, spent five whole minutes trying to sell me on the skinny margarita last night (to be fair, I’d asked about it), I was skeptical. She said it’s made with a Splenda simple syrup—the kitchen makes it in-house—and that the drink has half the calories and sugar of a regular margarita. I have no way to check her facts on this, but I’ll assume that, yes, something made with Splenda instead of sugar will definitely have fewer calories. But still … how would it taste?
I love a good margarita as much as the next gal. It’s another one of those sugar-laden drinks I don’t have very often, but when I do, I go whole hog. I mean, if there’s one thing you guys know about me and my personal philosophy on nutrition and wellness, it’s that I whole-heartedly endorse a good caloric splurge every now and then. My perspective (which I share with a lot of dietitians, might I add) is that if you’re careful with what you eat 90 percent of the time, you can totally, definitely throw caution to the wind and indulge every now and then. It isn’t going to kill you and might actually help satiate your sugar cravings to tide you over until the next splurge. Margaritas fall into the splurge category—which means I’m not usually looking to cut back on the sugar.
But in the name of journalism (you’re welcome), I decided to give the skinny margarita—called the Chiquita Margarita ($12) on the menu—a whirl. Before she made me commit to a full one, the server brought out a shot of the virgin, Splenda-made margarita mix so I could taste it. It wasn’t bad … not bad at all, in fact. It had the tiniest hint of bitterness at the end, but I was hopeful that once the booze was added it’d cut the bitterness completely.
Guess what? It totally did. The drink was just as tasty as any full-sugar marg I’ve ever had, without any diet aftertaste whatsoever. My husband, who’d ordered the regular (i.e. full-sugar) house margarita for himself, even took a sip and declared, “Dang, I like this. It’s a little less sweet and totally works.”
And that, my friends, is really probably the best endorsement you’re going to get.
La Calaca Feliz, 2321 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-787-9930.
>> Have a favorite skinny cocktail on another Philly restaurant menu? Share in the comments! I’d love to hear about it.