7 Low-Cal Cocktails for Those Who Work Hard, Play Hard
Beers, wines, and cocktails can be calorie killers, but you don’t have to sacrifice your social life to avoid compromising your hard work at the gym. The key to imbibing without devastating your diet is doing it smartly and picking the right drinks. Stay away from the sugar bombs, and go for the lighter beverages that are modestly flavored with fruit or juice. You can’t always control what bartenders put into your drinks, but making your own boozy beverages lets you concoct them to your liking and helps keep their calories in check. Should you be hosting your own happy hour, check out these 7 cocktail recipes that yield drinks that are 200 calories or less. The beverages don’t skimp on booze or flavor, but they do cut out unnecessary sugar and calories.
1. Low-Cal Mint Mojito
This first cocktail from Laurenda Marie is almost too good to be true. The mint mojito is a classic happy hour drink, and when it comes at 72 calories a pop, there’s no reason to say no. Laurenda teaches you to make a simple syrup made out of stevia, a sugar substitute, and then instructs you how to employ it in your skinny, boozy drink. The mojito will take you 10 minutes to master, and Laurenda’s recipe can easily be multiplied to quench the thirst of a crowd.
- 4 to 6 packets stevia, depending on how sweet you want it
- 1 cup water
- 5 to 8 fresh mint leaves
- 2 ounces simple syrup with stevia
- Juice of ½ lime
- 1 ounce rum
- 5 fresh mint leaves
- Chilled soda water
- Mint and lime slice for garnish
Directions: For the syrup: In a small pot, bring 1 cup of water to a boil and add 6 individual packets (about 3 grams) of stevia. Stir in stevia to dissolve, and remove from heat. Add the mint leaves. Cover and let steep about 30 minutes.
Remove mint leaves from liquid, and store simple syrup in fridge until ready to use.
Top the glass with ice and fill to the top with soda water. Stir. Garnish with fresh mint and a lime wedge.
2. Watermelon Gin Fizz
You’ll love this Watermelon Gin Fizz recipe from Eating Well. Each drink clocks in at 153 calories, and you even get some fiber from the fruit. The fruity beverage is spiked with gin, while watermelon, ginger ale, and lime juice are responsible for its refreshing flavor. This skinny cocktail recipe serves 4.
- 5 cups diced watermelon, divided
- 6 ounces gin, divided
- 8 tablespoons lime juice, divided
- 1⅓ cups ginger ale, divided
- Lime wedges, for garnish
Directions: Freeze 1 cup watermelon for garnish. Puree the remaining 4 cups watermelon. Strain and divide the juice among 4 ice-filled glasses.
Top each with 1½ ounces gin, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and ⅓ cup ginger ale. Garnish with the frozen watermelon and lime wedges.
3. Strawberry Margarita
A margarita under 200 calories? Dreams really do come true. Check out the recipe for this strawberry margarita from Cooking Light. This drink not only tastes better than those you find at Mexican restaurants, it’s healthier for you, too, with one margarita yielding just 198 calories. The key ingredients in the boozy beverage are tequila, Cointreau, fresh strawberries, and fresh lime juice, and after you combine those with some ice in a blender, it’s bottom’s up!
- 3½ cups strawberries
- 2½ cups crushed ice
- ½ cup tequila
- ½ cup fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons Cointreau
- Lime wedges
Directions: Combine strawberries, ice, tequila, lime juice, sugar, and liqueur in a blender, and process until the mixture is smooth. Pour the margaritas into 4 large glasses. Garnish margaritas with a lime wedge, if desired. Serve immediately.
4. Campari Mint Spritz
Campari, anyone? Counteract the bitterness of Campari with a splash of cranberry juice and Prosecco. This cocktail recipe featured on Shape keeps things light with an ingredients list that consists of just 4 items and an end result that comes to just 180 calories a pop. Combine fresh mint leaves, Campari, cranberry juice, and Prosecco to enjoy a low-cal Spritz that will de-stress your mind without derailing your diet.
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1 ounce cranberry juice
- 3 ounces Prosecco
- 5 fresh mint leaves
Directions: Place ice in a glass and add Campari, cranberry juice, and Prosecco. Lightly squeeze or twist mint leaves to bruise and add to the glass. Stir.
5. Miso Bloody Mary
Next time a Bloody Mary craving strikes, try this recipe from Cooking Light that makes the hair-of-the-dog drink a little diet-friendlier. One Miso Bloody Mary yields only 134 calories, and thanks to the employment of low-sodium tomato juice, you can even justify this drink as one that is healthy. The recipe serves 4, and the Bloody Mary mix can be made in a pitcher. Serve this beverage at all hours of the day, whether it’s alongside brunch, a boozy lunch, or dinner.
- 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 teaspoons white miso paste
- 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds
- 1½ cups low-sodium tomato juice
- ¾ cup vodka
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Celery and lime wedges
Directions: Combine 2 tablespoons lime juice, white miso paste, horseradish, and celery seeds in a pitcher; muddle with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in tomato juice, vodka, 2 tablespoons lime juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Divide among 4 ice-filled glasses. Garnish with celery and lime wedges.
6. Skinny Pina Colada
Next, say hello to a Skinny Pina Colada from Carrots and Cake. Pina coladas know no seasons, and that’s why it’s high time you learn how to master the drink at home. Pina coladas can be calorie bombs, but if you follow this formula that only enlists pineapple juice, coconut water, and coconut rum, you can enjoy your fruity cocktail and stick to your healthy living goals, too. This recipe serves 1.
- 2 ounces Bacardi Rock Coconut Rum
- 5 ounces coconut water
- 2 ounces pineapple juice
Directions: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of pineapple and/or a Maraschino cherry.
7. Low-Cal Ginger Mule
We can’t forget about the Moscow mule. This recipe from Eat Drink and Be Skinny teaches you how to make a low-calorie version. Simply swap your vodka for some gin, your ginger beer for diet ginger ale, and you have a new-and-improved skinny cocktail on your hands. The ginger mule is still refreshing and sweet, and the bubbles from the ginger ale make it extra fun. A Skinny Ginger Mule only sets you back 98 calories for each 8-ounce drink.
- 1 ½ oz gin
- 6 oz diet ginger ale
- ¼ fresh lime
- Fresh basil
- Pinch fresh shredded ginger
Directions: Add gin, freshly shredded ginger, basil and lime juice and muddle to draw out extracts and mix flavors. Add ice, top with ginger ale, stir, garnish with fresh lime and serve.
More From Culture Cheat Sheet:
- Hosting a Party? 6 Tips for Stocking the Ultimate Bar
- Must-Have Gear for the Ultimate Tailgating Vehicle
- 5 Easy Recipes for Savory Breakfast Pastries