Skinny Cocktails for Any Occasion
By Mikel Theobald, Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
used with permission from Everyday Health
When you’re out with your friends or celebrating with family, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the moment and have an extra cocktail or two. And unlike the headache you’ll have in the morning, the damage to your diet can’t be undone by the afternoon — especially if you were swilling the wrong drink. After all, a pint-sized frozen margarita can have nearly 800 calories, and a Long Island iced tea can pack a whopping 1,043 calories and 58 grams of carbs (mostly sugar), says Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, author of Eat Your Way to Sexy.
But before you swear off Long Islands for life, know that there are healthier ways to sip your favorite drinks — you just have to put traditional cocktail recipes on a diet. Read on for lightened-up cocktail recipes for every occasion and season that are big on flavor and low in everything else.
Skinny Strawberry Mojito: 80 Calories
Molly Morgan, RD, CDN, CSSD, author of The Skinny Rules, suggests using fresh fruits to sweeten cocktails instead of sugary syrups. As far as cocktail calories go, a mojito isn’t that bad to begin with, but by adding sweetness with fresh strawberries instead of syrup, you lower the calorie count even more. This lighter drink is the perfect refreshment for a warm summer day!
8 ounces club soda
1 ounce white rum
10 mint leaves
4 sliced strawberries
4 lime slices (1/2 of lime)
Directions: In a sturdy glass, muddle mint leaves, strawberries, and lime slices by gently pressing on and twisting the mint leaves and lime. Muddling doesn’t mean grinding them to a pulp — just twist until you smell mint. The end of a rolling pin will work if you don’t own a muddler. Next, add 1 cup crushed ice, the club soda, and rum. Stir gently and garnish with a mint sprig and a lime wedge before serving.
Springtime Elderflower Sparkler: 54 Calories
The snow is melting, and you can finally see some green peeking through the muddy landscape. Celebrate Mother Earth with an elderflower sparkler, a bubbly cocktail that’s bursting with fresh fruit flavor.
1 tablespoon elderflower concentrate or syrup
1/4 cup extra-dry champagne
1/4 cup seltzer
Sprig fresh mint or edible flower for garnish
Directions: Place elderflower concentrate or syrup in the bottom of a champagne glass, add champagne and seltzer. Garnish with mint sprig or edible flowers, and voilà! Serve promptly for best flavor.
Creamy Spiced Fall Cider: 150 calories
Skip the pumpkin pie, and enjoy a warm mug of this delicious cocktail recipe instead — you’ll save on calories and still enjoy all the flavor of the season.
4 ounces cider
1 ounce spiced rum
1 ounce light coconut milk
Directions: In a saucepan, heat cider to desired temperature, then pour into your favorite mug. Stir in spiced rum and coconut milk. Relax and enjoy!
Wintry Hot Toddy: 122 Calories
Baby, it’s cold outside. Warm up with this toasty cocktail recipe for a hot toddy. It’s the perfect drink to enjoy at home while the snow falls outside your window.
1 ounce brandy
6 ounces hot water
3/4 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 or 2 thin slices of lemon for garnish
Directions: In a mug, stir together brandy, hot water, honey, and lemon juice. Garnish with lemon slices.
Bridal Shower Mimosa: 120 Calories
This sunshiny drink is perfect for a bride-to-be’s special day with family and friends. The drink’s orange color symbolizes energy, balance, and enthusiasm — important when preparing for the big day. The key to keeping this upbeat cocktail recipe skinny is substituting a lighter version of juice for the base.
2 ounces Minute Maid light orange juice beverage
4 ounces champagne
Juice of 1/2 medium-size orange, or 1 to 2 ounces
Directions: Squeeze juice from the orange half into a glass filled with ice. Pour in light Minute Maid juice followed by champagne. Stir. Garnish with fresh orange slices for a dash of style.
Brunch Bloody Mary: 117 Calories
The vegetable juice base of this Bloody Mary sneaks in vitamins and nutrients, making it a prime choice for brunch. Add a dash of hot sauce for an extra kick.
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 ounces vegetable juice
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Dash of salt and pepper
Celery stalk for garnish
A few drops of hot sauce (optional)
Directions: Fill a glass with ice before adding, in order, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, vegetable juice and lemon juice. Sprinkle in a dash of salt and pepper. Use celery stalk to stir and then leave it in the glass for garnish. Top with the hot sauce if desired. Bottoms up!
Cinco de Mayo Mango Margarita: 180 Calories
Although Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day as many Americans seem to believe, (that’s actually Sept. 16), it is a great excuse to get together with friends over margaritas. Morgan recommends mixing things up with a mango margarita to cut out some of the calories — you’ll never know this cocktail recipe is a diet drink. Salud!
3/4 cup frozen mango cubes
1 ounce tequila
1 ounce lemon juice
1 teaspoon triple sec
Directions: Blend all ingredients in a blender until you reach a slushy consistency. Garnish with lime wedge for a splash of color.
Refreshing Vodka Tonic: 65 Calories
When you’re out to eat, it’s tempting to have a cocktail, but many restaurant recipes are full of added sugar and flavoring. For a safe bet while you’re out on the town, enjoy a diet vodka tonic or vodka soda. It is a drink you can sip with your meal without tacking on hundreds of calories.
1 ounce 80-proof vodka
5 ounces Slimline or diet tonic water
Squeeze of lime juice
Directions: Pour vodka into a glass filled with ice. Add your choice of tonic water. Squeeze juice of lime wedge into glass and stir lightly.
Slimmed-Down Gin and Soda: 101 calories
Satisfy your birthday sweet tooth with a glass of spunky gin, soda, and fresh orange slices. For a new flavor, try a variety of other fresh fruits with this recipe — strawberries, lime, and mango would all work well.
1 ounce gin
8 ounces club soda
1/2 small orange, peeled and sliced
Directions: Muddle orange slices in a sturdy glass. Add ice, gin, and club soda. Stir gently and serve.
Beachside Pina Colada: 250 Calories
Many resort vacations don’t officially begin until you’ve been handed your pina colada, complete with little paper umbrella. Unfortunately, if you have a few traditional pina coladas, you may need to buy a bigger bathing suit before the vacation is over. A regular 8-ounce serving can have as many as 640 calories. Morgan recommends trying this lightened-up healthy cocktail recipe instead.
1/4 cup pineapple, diced
1 ounce white rum
2 ounces light coconut milk
2 ounce pineapple juice
3-4 ice cubes
Directions: This one is a breeze: Put all ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Garnish with pineapple wedge for beach appeal.
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