Secrets to Low-Calorie Cocktails Slideshow
January 5, 2011
Infused Vodkas for Flavor
At about 64 calories per fluid ounce, vodka is one of the lowest calorie spirits you can drink (gin being another one). That said, the flavored vodkas you can buy at the liquor store have additives that make them more caloric. Infusing vodka elminates this problem, adding flavor without no strings attached.
Make it Naturally Sweet
Aside from using fresh fruit, you can use natural sweetners like light agave nectar, honey, and products like Truvia to give a cocktail a touch of sweetness without packing on the calories. Even an inherently low-cal cocktail like the Mojito can be made even more health-conscious by using a sugar substitute, like in this recipe from chef Sam Talbot.
Goodbye Juice, Hello Fresh Fruit
No surprise here. Opting for fresh fresh fruit juice over the often sugar-laden pre-packaged stuff is a smart way to save on calories in a cocktail. Take this Watermelon Martini, for example, which clocks in at a modest 125 calories.
Ditch the Mix
You want to avoid those pre-made cocktail mixes for the same reasons that you want to avoid anything but fresh fruit juice. A cocktail like the Bloody Mary is a great low-calorie option — with the metabolism-increasing spices and lycopene in the tomato juice — but the store-bought concentrated mix likely contains way too much salt. Instead, make it from scratch.
Keep the Champagne Poppin'
There's a reason why models are notorious for drinking this stuff. At only around 90 calories (65 for ultra brut) Champagne is the low-cal cocktail drinker's ultimate companion. Add a touch of freshly-squeezed orange juice to make the diet-friendly Mimosa.
Bubbles for Bulk
Adding diet seltzer or tonic water to your cocktail helps fill up the glass and dilute the drink sans a lot of calories — not to mention gives it a nice texture. If you're at the bar, it's also a good idea to alternate between drinking a cocktail and a glass of club soda. That way you always have something in your hand to sip on, but don't over do it on cocktails.
Even though vodka is low in calories, try substituting it with shochu, a Japanese distilled drink with only about 30 calories per ounce and half. Just don't confuse it with saké or Korean soju, which is slightly higher in calories, although still a reasonable alternative.
Cocktails that call for a combination of liquors, like in the super-caloric Long Island Iced Tea, are not a smart idea for dieters. Instead, keep it simple by ordering a spirit on the rocks, remembering that lower percentage alcohols have less calories.
If You Must Mix, Keep It Light
If you just can't drink liquor on the rocks, or straight up, top it off with a light or diet low-calorie mixer. Remember, the "splash" needs to become your new BFF.