There’s no better feeling than a nice buzz without the guilt of the extra calories. With the nation at its most health-conscious levels yet, the healthy cocktail is becoming more popular in restaurants and bars throughout the country. The healthiest cocktails will contain the freshest and most natural ingredients and avoid concentrated and artificial mixers, which are usually loaded with exorbitant amounts of sugar. By creating your own mixers from fresh juices and natural sugars, you’ll be able to better regulate the sugar levels you consume as well as customize the flavor. For example, Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel’s Skinny Girl margarita is only 100 calories (400 less than the average sweet n’ sour mixed version), and is composed of fresh lime juice and naturally low-glycemic agave nectar. Other ways of adding flavor include muddling herbs such as basil and mint, muddling fruit like strawberries and raspberries, including citrus peels like lemon zest or orange rinds, and substituting club soda for tonic, which usually contains about 10 calories per ounce. In addition many natural ingredients such as pomegranate, acai, and blueberries contain antioxidants which are proven to help prevent that hangover the next day. Here are some of our top 5 favorite low-calorie libations to help keep you in shape for the summer but still loose on the dance floor.
1. Strawberry-Basil Caipirinha.
- 4 quartered strawberries.
- 3 torn basil leaves.
- 1 quartered lime.
- 1 tbsp. superfine sugar.
- 2 oz. cachaca.
The caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil and is made with cachaca, the national spirit of Brazil. Unlike rum, which is made from molasses, cachaca is made from 100% sugar cane. Simply muddle the fruits, basil, and sugar in a glass, pour the ice and cachaca over the mixture, shake, and serve. This refreshing twist on a regular caipirinha is perfect for those warm summer days just around the corner.
2. Cucumber-Lemonade Chiller.
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped rosemary (extra if you’d like to garnish).
- 3 large cucumbers.
- 1 cup water.
- 6 oz gin.
- ½ cup lemon juice.
- 3 tablespoons agave syrup.
After cutting 12 thin slices of the cucumber to use as a garnish later, peel and puree the rest in a food processor along with the rosemary as well. Then strain and serve with the remaining ingredients over ice-filled glasses (serves 4). Another great drink to help you cool off without packing it on.
3. Prickly-Pear Margarita.
- 3 oz. tequila blanco.
- ½ oz. Cointreau.
- 1 ½ oz. lime juice.
- 2 oz. prickly pear syrup.
- Salt, kumquats, and lime peels for garnish.
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker, shake vigorously, and pour over a salt-rimmed glass filled with ice. You may also blend contents with ice for a slushy version. This southwestern twist on a traditional margarita has become increasingly popular over the past year due to one reason…it’s delicious!
4. Bois de Rose.
- ¾ part St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur.
- ¼ part Aperol Orange Liqueur.
- 1 part gin.
- ¼ part lemon juice.
- Top with brut rose sparkling wine/champagne.
Shake and strain the first 4 ingredients into a flute and then top with the champagne and garnish with a lemon peel. This is a great alternative to traditional mimosas to serve at a brunch-style event.
5. Skinny Cosmopolitan.
- 1 ½ oz vodka.
- 1 oz. diet cranberry juice.
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice.
- 1 tbsp. orange extract.
- 1 tbsp. Splenda sweetener.
The Cosmo is a classic drink made extremely popular by the hit TV show Sex and the City. This low-calorie version incorporates diet cranberry juice as opposed to regular, which can be extremely high in sugar. By using the diet alternative and sweetening to taste (usually 1 packet of Splenda can do the trick), you can cut the calories in half without giving up flavor.