You’ve made it through a long hectic week, it’s time for happy hour, you go out with your friends, who order a round of drinks AND you whisper into the waiter’s ears – “just water for me, please”, because you promised yourself you’ll cut back on those extra calories in top alcoholic drinks. Sure, water is good, BUT nothing says weekend like a glass (or three) of your favorite alcoholic drink or cocktail, right? And what do you do when you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle? Naturally, the next questions are – Which is the best low-calorie alcoholic beverage? Can I have those yummy alcoholic drinks without worrying about my weight? Unfortunately, you cannot totally avoid calories if you want to enjoy your favorite alcoholic drink. You can, however, decrease your calorie intake by choosing your cocktail drinks wisely. Here’s a quick guide for some low calorie good alcoholic drink mixes and cocktails that you can enjoy, while sticking to your diet goals. Not only are these good for your next pub-hop but also some of the best alcoholic drinks for parties at home.
Before we proceed, let's sort out a very basic question which amateur drinkers may have – Is cocktail alcoholic? What is the difference between cocktail and mocktail? Yes, a cocktail generally contains a mixture of two or more drinks – one of which will always be alcoholic. Some cocktails may even contain multiple alcoholic drinks! So much for not mixing alcohol 😊. On the other hand, Mocktails are non-alcoholic and as the word suggests they basically mock or imitate cocktails.
With that sorted, let's jump straight to our list of light alcoholic drinks which you can serve at your next party
This is probably one of the few cocktails that is not only low calorie but has some nutrients too (win-win, right?). The main ingredients are tomato juice, vodka, horseradish, celery, Tabasco, salt, and pepper. Make sure that you use fresh tomato juice instead of the premixed canned ones which are packed with salt and additives or just ditch the pre-bottled juice totally, use low sodium, no sugar added juice, add vodka, a squeezed lemon, a table spoon of horseradish, some celery and you’re good to go. An average Bloody Mary has close to 100 calories which is much less than the sugar laden cocktails and even some mocktails, and on top of it, it tastes brilliant, what more can we ask for?
A toned-down Mojito
What happens when you are watching your weight, trying to cut down on those extra calories but that delicious Mojito is just screaming your name at the bar? Well, you order it, without the sugar syrup, obviously. Mint, soda, and lime are all low calorie and adding a shot of rum/vodka is about 80-100 calories. If you put a tad bit of sugar syrup or just skip it totally, you’ll have a healthy version. You can also add half a teaspoon of honey, fresh watermelon or cucumber for the extra sweetness and taste.
Click here for a coconut water based mojito recipe and adjust the sugar according to your needs.
Even the mention of Margarita gets us dreaming about a vacation (read: BEACH). It’s popular and incredibly delicious but a traditional margarita made using tequila, sugary mixers and triple sec means consuming about 400 calories which is about the same as consuming a large pack of fries! (Knowledge is power, people). The problem with margaritas (apart from the super sugary mixers) is that every restaurant serves a different size which can be a huge problem because you never know how much alcohol you’re consuming. A low-calorie solution is, ditch the sugar laden margarita, order yourself a shot of tequila with soda instead and garnish it with some lime and oranges. It makes for a good sipping drink for the night and leaves out all the sugary mixers, cutting down the calories to a large extent.
Watch this video, for the skinny margarita recipe.
Good old Wine
If you are going to drink and can’t make it through the weekend as a teetotaller, wine might be the most diet friendly choice. Since you can enjoy wine, without any sugary mixers, it’s a good choice as compared to liquor based cocktails. All wines have relatively fewer calories ranging from 80-110 per serving, depending on the alcohol content (9-17%). Aim for the wine with a lower alcohol content (9-12%), since it’s the amount of alcohol that influences the number of calories. Try having a dry white wine, which is the least fattening followed by dry red wine. For the lowest calories, about 75 to 90 per serving choose a dry chardonnay, sauvignon Blanc or dry champagne. If you prefer red, choose burgundy, merlot or Sauvignon Cabernet. Red wine also some health benefits including lowering inflammation and blood pressure, so a little wine is actually good for you and NO, that does not mean you can have a whole bottle. Just don’t go for a wine and cheese party 😊. If you are just exploring the world of wine and are confused about the different types of wine, read up our article on wine basics for everyone and you will instantly have the answer to a lot of your wine related questions.
Liquor with soda/water – on the rocks, anyone?
If you are looking to cut back on calories and still want a strong drink, this is it. It can be Vodka soda or whiskey on the rocks, whatever you prefer. One of the biggest misconceptions about alcohol is that different liquors have different calories- but in reality, liquor of the same proof contains the same number of calories. So, a 30 ml spirit with 80 proof will have 65 calories, regardless of which one it is. Since soda has zero calories, all you have to account for is the alcohol. You can also squeeze a lemon for some freshness. Go on, order away.
The classic Rum and (diet) coke
Hi5! If you also love this classic combination but the coke always makes you wonder if it’s the right choice. Well, if you replace the coke with diet coke, your favorite drink is now less than 100 calories (oh yes!). The good part is, it’s a popular drink and known by nearly every bartender so you don’t have to annoy him trying to explain him, how to make your drink. Make sure you mix unflavoured rum and avoid the flavored ones. Try the spiced rum for the extra kick.
Everyone’s favorite Thursday night drink – Beer! Take it light, please!
With approximately 150 calories a pint, beer is a good option if you’re only drinking ONE pint. Yes, just one! But if you’re out with friends post a messy breakup, do yourself a favor and order light beers (90 calories only!). It will drop your calorie intake incredibly. Now obviously if you are chugging the beers, then it won’t matter but drinking at a moderate pace will surely help. Some argue that light beers don’t taste as good as the regular ones but you can always find the ones you like. Some light beers that you can try are Amstel light, Miller light, and Bira light.
Gin and Tonic, without tonic
Most people think they are taking a better option when ordering gin & tonic, but that’s not true. It’s also a common misconception that tonic water is another kind of soda. It’s actually a soft drink made of corn syrup and full of sugar. Swap out tonic with soda water, and enjoy your gin without hurting your diet plan. If you want some flavor, use a splash of tonic. Gin is also known to have some health benefits like soothing your coughs and sneezes, calming joint pains and is known to improve digestion. Let’s drink to that, shall we?
A mimosa is generally made with equal parts chilled citrus juice and champagne. Champagne and orange juice are not the worst ingredients especially because a glass of champagne is just over 85 calories, but the problem is in the pre packed juice which is full of artificial syrups and sugar. Replacing canned with freshly squeezed orange juice will give you a healthier version. Go ahead, take out that champagne you saved for new years and pop it open!
If you want to sip something and not ruin your diet plans, this is a great place to start. If you budget your calories, you can safely afford to have a drink or two (No, not a bottle). Remember, all types of alcohol contain calories so don’t forget to drink in moderation. Whenever you’re heading to a party or just hitting the bar on the weekend (or weekday! No judging, guys), remember to opt for these low-calorie drinks and of course, don’t over indulge. Each drink adds more calories. The fewer the drinks, the fewer the calories.
What’s your favorite weekend drink? Do leave a comment in the comments section below.
We’ll leave you with one of our favorite tunes to groove to in your next house party along with your favorite drink:
About the Author - Apurva Setia is Post graduate in commerce with a heart that loves to travel. Full-time foodie, part time nerd and loves to research and write about every food under the sun.
Win Prizes. Click for details