Looking into the 11 best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2 will hopefully put to rest the popular misconception that one with diabetes cannot consume alcohol. In fact, if you are diabetic, the guidelines for your alcohol consumption does not vary much from someone who is not. Typically one drink for women and two for men. It’s more a matter of WHAT you are drinking, and here you will have a better insight into figuring out what alcoholic drinks are safe for diabetics. Now, this doesn’t particularly mean you can drink as much as you want whenever you want. Hell, I can’t even do that (well, I could… but that would wreak havoc on my health) and I do not have diabetes. I do, however, know an alcoholic who is, and while she undeniably should be a bit more careful as to the amount of alcohol she consumes on such a regular basis, she certainly disproves the idea that diabetics can’t have any fun when it comes to enjoying an adult beverage here and there. Again, it’s all a matter of knowing what are the best alcoholic drinks for diabetics.
Let’s talk a little about some more specific guidelines one with diabetes must follow should they decide to drink. First and foremost, everyone is different. While it is indeed safe for most diabetics to “drink responsibly,” that is certainly not the case for every diabetic. Whether or not you have your disease under control, you’re going to want to consult with your doctor about if any amount of alcohol use is safe for YOU. And while there certainly are risks to alcohol consumption for everyone (not just diabetics), believe it or not, your doctor may even bring up the fact that moderate drinking can have its benefits, as well. Certain alcohols can reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, kidney stones, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease along with some other surprising perks, and—get this!—are you sitting down for this one? Some studies are now showing that some alcohols may even reduce the risk of developing [type 2] diabetes by as much as 30%. Crazy, huh? And no, this doesn’t mean that you can simply drink your diabetes away… Seriously, don’t do that! ‘Cause on the flip side of that fun fact is the more prevalent one that too much drinking can actually cause diabetes [type 2].
Remember, alcohol can be risky! Again, not just for diabetics, but I’m willing to bet if you are reading this particular article, chances are, you either have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It can either cause your blood sugar levels to rise or drop; which can be detrimental to a person with diabetes. That is why it is important to know how alcohol can affect your blood sugar levels with hypoglycemia being low blood sugar and hyperglycemia being high—both of which very common conditions of diabetics.
Moving on! After making sure Doc gives you the “okay” to have a drink, you’re gonna wanna make sure you’re not drinking on an empty stomach—ESPECIALLY if you take some form of medication for your diabetes; which chances are, you do. Another thing to remember is that you want to keep yourself hydrated. But something you could easily forget? Have something on your person (uh, that’d be you… duh) indicating you’re diabetic. A badge. An I.D. Hell, make a T-shirt (coming from a former bartender, I would totally recommend and would have appreciated the T-shirt idea)! ANYTHING to let others around you or serving you know not to mistake what may look like someone who is a bit tipsed (do people say that, or just me? Well, you get it, right? “Tipsy”) for someone who is actually suffering from hypo or hyperglycemic episode. Depending on HOW tipsy you appear (and, of course, the professionalism of the bartender), you may be flagged; which is definitely a plus, but still not gonna help you if everyone around you is completely oblivious to what is actually wrong.
Another thing I cannot stress enough is to chickity-CHECK yo’self before you wreck yo’self. Chickity-check yo’self before you wreck yo’self… Did I really just say that? Yes, I did. And as corny as it sounds (and looks now that I’ve typed it… twice) I couldn’t think of a better way to get this part in your head. No, Ice Cube was not referring to checking your blood glucose levels (although, wouldn’t it be silly if he were?), but I am! You’re going to want to check it before you even start to drink to ensure that your blood sugar is at a safe level. You’re gonna wanna check continuously while you drink, before you go to bed, in the middle of the night (if you can), and really up to 24 hours AFTER your drink(s), as alcohol has a tendency to affect everyone’s blood glucose even the day after having a drink or two.
Now, before I jump into the alcoholic drinks for diabetics list, I’ve gotta share Jay’s article on the 12 Best Alcoholic Mixed Drinks for Diabetics. While she gives some great ideas on drinks for diabetics, I’ll be focusing a bit more on the best liquor for diabetics. So, what alcohol can you drink if you have diabetes? Well, you’re about to find out! Just ONE more thing I have to share with you before we get started (I promise it will be quick!).
How did I rank the 11 best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2? I sourced most of the nutrition facts from MyFitnessPal and Livestrong, and just a few from Shape Magazine. Ranking the actual liquors was a little easier said than done. Ever notice how there are no nutrition labels on liquor bottles? Well, there’s not; which made me have to get a little creative with my ranking. While the sources I used were about the best I could find, they gave very vague numbers–more approximates, and not quite exact based on different brands and whatnot. So, I decided to rank the list more on the popularity of the actual drink itself. Let’s face it; some liquors are just more popularly ordered than others. Not to mention, the versatility of the liquor. Since calories and carbs add up the more ingredients are used in a drink, I thought best to take that into consideration. The best liquor for diabetics are going to be ones that are tasty all on their own or mixed with just one other acceptable ingredient for diabetics.
See! Told ya that wouldn’t take long. And now, the 11 best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2.
11. Dry Martini
Here is one of the very few low sugar cocktails to order at a bar. While you may think of a martini as being a sweet even somewhat fruity adult beverage, I’ll share with you a little secret I learned in bartending school: A TRUE martini consists of gin as its main ingredient. Nowadays, one often thinks of vodka when it comes to martinis, and there is an array of different flavored martinis out there, but here I am talking about your old-fashioned dry martini with gin and preferably extra dry vermouth. Martini & Rossi is among the most popular brands of vermouth and in a dry martini, there is less than the 1 oz serving size in the beverage. The drink itself should be around 120 calories with only .2 grams of carbs even with the gin.
And now, let’s see the top ten best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2, shall we?
10. [Dry] Sparkling Wine
A great choice for anyone on my list of the 11 best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2 is sparkling wine. More specifically, dry sparkling wine. In fact, the dryer the better when it comes to drinks for diabetics. You will find in most cases that the amount of calories and carbohydrates in specific types of alcohol varies by brand, but your average 4 oz. serving of champagne will have between 84-105 calories and about 6 carbs. Most pink champagnes have slightly lower numbers than that. And as tasty as they may sound, you’re going to want to steer clear of the sweeter varieties. Even counting those out altogether, you still have plenty of options when it comes to the sparkling wine that suits your taste; which is what makes this such a good option.
9. [Light] Beer
Since there are way too many brands of beer out there to name, I went ahead and chose a handful of specific light beers to feature on the best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2 list. Now, I say “light” beer, ‘cause that’s what you’re going to want to stick to. Light beer. Regular beer has far more calories and carbs, and unfortunately, those craft brews are even worse. Bud Select 55 is one of the lighter varieties that has half the calories (ahem 55) and carbs (1.8g) of most. Although, I would personally go with MDG 64 (yeah, these numbers indicate the number of calories) as it’s not much higher than the Bud. Your Miller Lite, your Coors Lite, Corona Lite, Bud Lite and Bud Lite Lime are closer to the 100 calorie range. And if you’re like me—light beer just isn’t your thing. There’s always Yuengling Light; which isn’t too far off in flavor as the real deal and only 99 calories and 8.8g of carbs.
I’ve already mentioned how certain brands of different alcohols vary when it comes to the number of calories they have. Typically, gin runs around the 70 calorie range. However, there are definitely numerous brands out there that offer substantially fewer calories. While Beefeater and Tanqueray—two very popular top-shelf gins—are both 67 calories per serving, Bombay Sapphire only runs at 56 (although, I’ve had a few customers who were not too fond of this particular brand) and Gordon’s has even fewer with 52 calories. Gin, which ranks 8th on our list of best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2, is a pure spirit, so it has 0 carbs. Now, I wouldn’t go ordering straight gin on the rocks. Yuck! Gin and Tonic is a popular choice; however, you want to avoid the tonic. Diet tonic would be a more suitable option for you or even better seltzer/soda water. It literally is just carbonated water and has no carbs or calories whatsoever.
A lot of the drinks featured on the best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2 have the roughly the same amount of calories and carbohydrates. This made it somewhat difficult to rank them. It occurred to me that while these spirits have similar nutritional values, some are just weird to drink on their own (gin, for instance). If you are not drinking these spirits on their own, then it can dramatically affect the carbs and calories you are putting into your body. While some MAY prefer to add a little something to cognac (ginger ale is a popular choice. However, you will be better off with diet ginger ale), it is one of the spirits that can be enjoyed all on its own. Although, when you order this particular drink on its own, you will receive 2 oz. of it, as opposed to the typical 1.5 oz. you would get from a drink served “on the rocks.” And with cognac—there are typically no rocks, although, it wouldn’t be weird at all to ask for ice… but then again, it wouldn’t be weird to have it warmed up a little for you, either! Ordering just cognac as opposed to cognac with diet ginger ale will run you about the same amount of calories (140ish). That is because you will be receiving slightly less cognac with the ginger ale, and the ginger ale would make up for the loss of cognac.
I hate to break it to you, but you won’t (or at least shouldn’t!) be drinking enough tequila to make her clothes fall off… or his. Although, I guess if she/he is the one drinking it and is not diabetic… you could still get lucky! But as long as you are not trying to keep up with your non-diabetic friends (or possible one-night-stand) then you could certainly have a shot of tequila, the drink number 6 on our list of best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2. Now, most brands of tequila average at 96 calories (another pure spirit, so 0 carbs). With that said, while your average tequila has more calories and the same amount of carbs as gin, it ranks better on the best alcoholic drinks for diabetics for two reasons. One simply being that one is more likely to take a shot of tequila by itself than gin, and two is that there have actually been studies suggesting that the plant tequila derives from may help reduce blood sugar and even increase insulin production. This may leave you questioning: is tequila good for diabetics? Here’s the thing—it’s still alcohol so it will do more harm than good in larger quantities.
A popular choice liquor is rum and it ranks 5th on our list of best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2. One thing to recognize and understand when you have diabetes is that the higher the alcohol any given liquor contains by volume, the more dangerous it can be. While most rums are 80 proof (40% alcohol) Bacardi 151 has a much higher alcohol content, as it is 151 proof. It would be safe to say to just stay away from that particular brand, altogether. While Bacardi has other flavored rums with less alcohol content, you’re then going to run into the problem of there being carbs and sugars in them that come from the flavoring agents. Rum and Coke is a popular drink with rum being the star of the show. However, rum and diet coke would be a smarter choice for you and will typically run under 100 calories and around 3 grams of carbs per drink if you stick with an 80 proof rum.
And now, let’s see is brandy good for diabetic patients. Often considered cognac’s cousin, brandy, which ranks 4th on our list of best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2, has its similarities but is a completely different drink. Not only is the nutrition info much like that of cognac’s, but it is often served the same way—2 oz. in a brandy snifter. So why does it rank better on the best alcoholic drinks for diabetes? Simple! Not only is it MUCH more affordable, but it comes in a variety of different flavors. Some of which don’t have nearly as many calories or sugar as you would think, considering they are much sweeter. By itself, a serving (1 oz.) of brandy is about 65 calories. Different fruit-flavored brandy liqueurs can be more than double that! A good flavor to go with would be apricot brandy; which has only 15 calories more than regular brandy in a single serving. But keep in mind, when you order brandy at a bar, you will get 2 servings! I have, however, had a regular customer who would come in (and was coincidentally diabetic) and order it in shot form and just sip it like he would from the snifter.
And now, let’s see the top three best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2.
Let’s cut to the chase here! These other liquors can be great, but can diabetics drink whiskey? I’d be wondering that too considering it is my go-to liquor. The simple answer to that question is yes. And honestly, any 80 proof pure spirit on this list will contain an estimated 70 calories per serving and 0 carbs. So, then why does whiskey rank at number 3 out of the 11 best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2? No, the answer is not simply because it is my personal favorite. First off, whiskey has the most variety. Yes, you’ve got your different flavors of brandy, and many spirits come in a light or dark variety, but whiskey is in a class all on its own. There are the generic whiskeys (least amount of calories), Irish whiskey, scotch, malt (I’d stay away from these if I were you), Bourbon (some brands of this, particularly Makers Mark would not be a good option for you), Rye whiskey… I mean, the list goes on. And every form of whiskey has a very distinct flavor. You’d be hard-pressed to find at least one you didn’t like! Now, the second reason it ranked so high? Two words. Pickle juice. I know it sounds crazy—and don’t knock it til you try it—but a shot of pickle juice with straight whiskey (separate, of course) is not only delicious, but the pickle juice actually has health benefits, as well; and you’ll never guess what one of those benefits are. It helps control your blood glucose levels. I’ll be honest, you can take a shot of pickle juice with any of these other spirits, but I have found that the pickle juice marries best with whiskey.
Are you ready for the top two best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2?
You may think that vodka and diabetes don’t mix. And you may be right depending on your particular case (remember, you’re going to want to consult with your doctor before you decide whether or not you can drink alcohol), however, if you choose to drink vodka can be a good choice. While most brands are in the 60-70 calorie range, one reason it beat out all those other spirits is simply because it is one of the most common and most versatile pure spirits. You can mix it with pretty much any diet soda or even seltzer water. It goes well with juice, although you are going to want to choose a mixer that is light on sugar. While a Screwdriver (vodka and orange juice) might sound like a good idea, when you add the calories from the alcohol to the orange juice, it can be a bit on the higher side—even more so than with most diet sodas. But, on the other hand, orange juice is definitely a healthier choice than diet soda. You may have even heard that it (along with other liquors) can help to reduce blood sugar levels. While this can be true, it is going to lower it by a much more rapid rate than it should, and only for a short amount of time before it spikes, again. Not to mention, alcohol affects everyone differently, so this may not even be true in your case. But, by all means, one or two shots of vodka is perfectly acceptable.
And finally, the number one on our list of best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2.
1. [Red] Wine
Ranking in at number 1 out of the 11 best alcoholic drinks for diabetics type 1 or type 2 is wine. As long as you are not choosing a real sweet or dessert wine, most all will even have some health benefits to your heart. But, as far as health goes, red wine wins the gold and the dryer the better. While there is more sugar in wine than spirits (that is why you go for a dryer wine), aside from reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, wine can also aid in keeping your cholesterol at a good level. This is because it actually absorbs cholesterol on its way to the liver. It has even been suggested that dry red wine can help the body manage insulin more properly. And if all that wasn’t good enough, you typically get 5 oz. of wine in a serving as opposed to just the 1 or 2 you would get with any given spirit. So, naturally, you will enjoy your drink for longer than you would a single shot. But, don’t forget to ask your doctor if drinking wine (or any alcohol) is safe for you!