San Diego Trip Giveaway Leaderboard
Livenation Chris Tucker Header

Diet Drinks: Tips for Healthy Drinking

Diet Drinks: Tips for Healthy Drinking

After spending a month (or two) indulging in food and drink, the new year brings grand resolutions to eat better, be healthier and lose weight. If you’re like us, that definitely doesn’t include cutting out drinking altogether. However, three or four cocktails at happy hour can easily rack up 800–1,000 calories or more, derailing even the best laid plans.

So how do you incorporate a night at the bar into your new lifestyle without resorting to some of the terrible concoctions we used to create in college (hello Slimfast + peppermint schnapps milkshake)? Put down the SkinnyGirl margaritas and read on.

The Basics

First, it helps to know what you’re dealing with. Unlike other food and drink, your bottle of Scotch doesn’t come with a handy nutrition information label, making it that much easier to justify multiple glasses.

Most 80-proof liquors like vodka, whiskey, rum, or tequila have about 96 calories per 1 1/2-oz. serving (a shot). As the proof of the liquor increases, so do the calories. For example, 100 proof vodka or whiskey comes in at 123 calories per 1 1/2 ounce. So vodka any better, diet-wise, than whiskey — if the proof is the same the calories are the same, so you can all go back to your booze of choice.

Sadly, most liqueurs like triple sec, amaretto and Irish creams can cost you close to 150 calories per 1½ ounces. When you start adding fruit juices, sodas and these flavorful liqueurs to a cocktail, a single drink can easily reach over 250 calories

On the other end of the drinking spectrum, a standard 5-oz. glass of wine has between 120–125 calories, and a (non-light) glass of beer starts at 146 calories, with richer and more alcoholic beers coming in upwards of 250-350 or more per serving.

Depending on how often and how much you drink, you can see how the calories can easily start adding up after several weeks of a busy holiday season. So how do you prevent weight gain without sacrificing a fun night out with friends?

Tips for Drinking at Home

The key to making lower calorie cocktails is to rely on the flavor of the spirit itself and fresh ingredients like herbs and fruit. Pick higher quality base spirits and you won’t need mixers to cover up the flavor! In general, stay away from anything that involves a pre-made mix from a shelf-stable bottle. Also, syrups and shrubs — even homemade ones like simple syrup — are all sugar based and will up the calorie count of a drink very quickly. It’s best to stick to basic spirits and hunt down fresh ingredients at the grocery store.

If you’re making drinks at home, you know exactly what’s going into your drink, so it’s easy to avoid high sugar ingredients. Below are some twists on classic drinks that can easily fit into a healthier lifestyle.

Mojito (153 calories)

2 oz. light rum (130 calories)
4 mint leaves (n/a)
1 oz. fresh lime juice (8 calories)
1 tsp. sugar (15 calories)
Club soda

Place mint leaves and sugar at the bottom of a rocks glass. Add lime juice and bruise the mint leaves. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the rum and ice and stir until chilled. Top with club soda. Experiment by adding seasonal berries or fruit and muddle with the mint.

Whiskey Sour (153 calories)

2 oz. whiskey (130 calories)
1 oz. fresh lemon juice (8 calories)
1 tsp. sugar (15 calories)
Optional: 1 egg white (17 calories)

While the optional egg white adds 17 calories, it also adds a dash of protein. Combine whiskey, lemon juice, sugar into a shaker. If adding egg white, add now and shake without ice vigorously for one minute.  Then add two ice cubes and shake again. Pour into a rocks glass over ice or a coupe glass without.

Bloody Mary (155 calories)

2 oz. vodka (130 calories)
4 oz. tomato juice (20 calories)
Dash of worcestershire sauce (5-10 calories)
Dash of tabasco
Dash of horseradish
Dash of old bay seasoning
Dash of celery salt
Dash of pepper
Celery stalk
Pickle spear

The key to making this this classic brunch cocktail healthier is the size of the glass. Most restaurant style bloodies are made in pint glasses, packing in double the serving size of tomato juice (and calories). This low-cal bloody uses an 8–10 ounce highball glass. Add all ingredients to a highball glass. Stir, add ice, and stir again. Garnish with a slim pickle spear and celery stalk.

Tips for Drinking Out

If you’re at bar, it’s likely your bartender won’t have access to fresh herbs, fruit and other concoctions you might have at home. However, there are a few key things to remember. If you like a stiffer drink, get your whiskey or rum on the rocks without any additional booze. As a bonus, you’ll be able to appreciate the spirit a bit better (as long as you’re not drinking well liquor) and you won’t be left wondering what else is mixed into your glass.

If you’re more of a cocktail or mixed drink person, stay away from drinks that have additional juices, like cranberry or orange, or fortified wines like vermouth and port. Screwdrivers and martinis can easily rack up over 250 calories per drink.

Instead, you can fall back on the classic rum or Jack and Diet Coke (130 calories). If you’re already out of college and have a more refined palette, become friends with soda water. It will add a bit of fizz to your drink without any added sugars and it has zero calories. However, beware of soda water’s evil step-sister, tonic water! Tonic is NOT a low-calorie liquid —  it runs about 124 calories per 8-oz. serving. If you must have tonic water, stick to diet.

A tip to remember at the bar — the fewer ingredients your cocktail has in it, the less caloric the drink is likely to be. Also be wary of drinks that have syrups or include sugary fruit or cream based liqueurs. Below are some easy go-to drinks you can order at any bar that won’t run more than around 160 calories:

Gimlet (156 calories)

2 oz. gin or vodka (130 calories)
3/4 oz. Rose’s lime juice (26 calories)

This cocktail simply combines gin or vodka and Rose’s lime juice for a quick and simple drink that is lightly sweetened. Garnish with a lime wheel for class.

Old Fashioned (154 calories)

2 oz. bourbon (130 calories)
2 dashes Angostura bitters (8 calories)
1 tsp. sugar (16 calories)
Orange peel

This boozy drink is surprisingly low in calories, which should be a relief to you health conscious tipplers. As a bonus, it’s also very flavorful.

Black Russian (160 calories)

1 1/2 oz. vodka (96 calories)
3/4 oz. coffee liqueur (93 calories)

The White Russian’s slightly less popular cousin, this drink is a great option if you’re looking for a sweeter drink without all the calories of a giant martini. While we mentioned earlier than most liqueurs should be off limits if you’re watching your weight, the small size and lack of additional ingredients in this drink make it ok.

Tom Collins (162 calories)

2 oz. dry gin (130 calories)
2 oz. lemon juice (16 calories)
1 tsp. sugar (16 calories)
Soda water

This refreshing drink gives you a lovely summery feel and also comes in fairly low on the bad-for-you scale. The fizz of the soda water will fill you up.

Photos by Danya Henninger & Drink Philly

Recent Articles
UK Company Creates Guinness Flavored Chips
Brew Big Red: A Brewery Tour of Lincoln, NE
Home Bar Project: How to Make a French 75
spacer
Punch Media PR
From Around The Web

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
Home Bar Project: How to Make a French 75

Home Bar Project: How to Make a French 75

Have you ever dreamed of having an amazing home bar, filled with bottles you actually use and the tools you need to execute a finely crafted cocktail?...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jan 26, 2015
10 Session-Friendly Craft Brews to Drink Instead of Light Beer on Super Bowl Sunday

10 Session-Friendly Craft Brews to Drink Instead of Light Beer on Super Bowl Sunday

Somewhere along the way, watching pro sports became synonymous with drinking light beers, but there are plenty...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jan 26, 2015
SPONSORED
Bye Bye Liver Rectangle
Free Ride: Sign up for Uber With a Drink Philly Promo Code

Free Ride: Sign up for Uber With a Drink Philly Promo Code

Getting home after a night of fun can be a pain, especially if you've been drinking at a bar tucked into one of many Philly neighborhoods where cabs d...read more ›

by Drink Philly Oct 8, 2014
Snow Day: Specials, Openings, Closings, Postponements and More

Snow Day: Specials, Openings, Closings, Postponements and More

Keep checking back, updates will be posted all day. ...read more ›

by Drink Philly Jan 26, 2015
Where to Host a Private Event in Philadelphia

Where to Host a Private Event in Philadelphia

Whether for work or home, sometimes you're looking for a place you can take 20 or more people for a party...read more ›

by Drink Philly Nov 15, 2014
Anheuser-Busch Buys Seattle's Elysian Brewing in a Deal No One Saw Coming

Anheuser-Busch Buys Seattle's Elysian Brewing in a Deal No One Saw Coming

It was announced Friday that Elysian Brewing in Seattle has been sold to Anheuser-Busch. ...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jan 23, 2015
Sketch Comedy and Drinking Games Collide in Bye Bye Liver

Sketch Comedy and Drinking Games Collide in Bye Bye Liver

It's described as two parts sketch comedy, one part drinking games, which sounds like a whole lot of fun to us....read more ›

by Drink Philly Jan 23, 2015
Drinking Historically at The Olde Bar

Drinking Historically at The Olde Bar

The Olde Bar is now open in the old Bookbinder's building in Old City, and the cocktails have a historical twist. ...read more ›

by Swabreen Bakr Jan 23, 2015
Get Adventurous with Philly's Funkiest Bar Bites
by Swabreen Bakr Jan 22, 2015
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Like us on Facebook!

Close