With holiday celebrations in full swing this week, cocktails and other festive drinks are abundant — and that can mean calories are too! We’d never tell you to skip the libations all together, but if you’re looking for ways to enjoy a couple drinks without the calorie pile-up, here are some rules to stick to.
Keep it simple:The more types of alcohol/liquor the drink contains, the more calories it will likely have. Alcohol itself is denser in calories than protein or carbohydrates — just one ounce of most liquors contains about 65-85 calories (compare that to 1 ounce of juice at about 15 calories.) Most specialty drinks and martinis have at least 3 ounces of alcohol, which means you’re getting about 200 – 250 calories from the alcohol alone –and that’s before adding in any sweet mixers!
Customize your order: Don’t be afraid to get creative and ask the bartender to make you your own specialty drink instead of ordering one off of the menu. Pick one type of alcohol to build your drink on, like vodka, rum, whiskey, or tequila, then use the “slim” suggestions below to get some ideas on how to create a delicious slimmer cocktail based on your alcohol of choice.
Stick with calorie-free mixers and flavor enhancerslike club soda (not to be confused with tonic water, which contains about the same amount of calories as soda!), unsweetened herbal teas, a “splash” of juice, or our #4 suggestion…
Try it on the rocks: Order a higher end alcohol and ask for it on the rocks. Not only will you save on mixers, but drinking it without any mixers can keep you sipping at a slower pace — which naturally helps you slow down your calorie intake (and can help you avoid a nasty hangover too!) For a little extra flavor, add a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime, orange, or the zest of the fruit.
If you’re a beer drinker stick with light beers, which typically run from 90 calories – 110 calories per 12 ounces. Avoid India Pale Ales (IPAs) which boast the highest calorie counts and can run you up to 300 calories per beer!
Wine & Champagne are both naturally lighter choices, at about 100 – 110 calories per 4 ounce serving. Just make sure to finish your glass before getting a refill so that you can keep track of how many glasses you’ve really had. It’s easy to have bottomless glass syndrome and forget that you’re not still sipping on that first one!
Slim cocktails suggestions by type of alcohol…
Vodka: Start with a flavored vodka, it helps add flavor up front so you need less caloric additions. The flavor added to vodka is typically the essence of fruit, herbs, or spices, so it doesn’t add additional calories or sugar. Then add club soda or keep it on the rocks, and a squeeze of something citrus-y like lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit. For extra flavor add a splash of juice — if you’re at a bar and you’ve seen a specialty drink that includes a unique juice that looks yummy to you, like guava, pineapple, pomegranate, ask for that as your “splash of juice” to make the drink have that specialty taste without the specialty calories! 110 – 130 calories
Rum tea cocktail: 1.5 ounces spiced rum, 2 ounces unsweetened iced black or green tea, a splash of lemon juice and/or lemon zest.
Tequila: Replace a high-cal margarita with 1.5 ounces tequila, a splash of lime juice, club soda, and a teaspoon swirl of honey or agave syrup. 125 calories
Hot drinks: The “Hot Toddy” can be a pretty light drink choice – but that all depends on how much sugar or honey is added. For a low-cal version, add 1 teaspoon honey to the bottom of an Irish Coffee glass, squeeze the juice of about 1/4 of a lemon, add 1 oz of rum, whiskey, or brandy, and add your favorite hot tea. For the holidays, we’re love the idea of using Trader Joe’s cinnamon tea as the tea choice. Plus, you’re getting those healthful antioxidants from the tea as a nutrition bonus!
Slim hot toddy: 105 calories
Do you have a favorite slim take on a holiday cocktail favorite?
Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season!