Think twice before you reach for that tiki drink. When you consider that one standard shot (1 1/2 fluid ounces) of 80-proof vodka, rum or gin contains roughly 100 calories, you’re likely throwing back more calories than you bargained for on a typical night out, especially if you’re combining a few of these with sugary mixers. One way to take control of your caloric intake is to skip the bar all together and mix your drinks at home. For a lighter version of your favorite cocktail, start by measuring out the hard stuff. Choose 100 percent juice or use fresh fruits and herbs to flavor your drink in place of overly sweetened bottled mixers. And remember: Size matters. Keep the calorie count under control by pouring your cocktails into 8-ounce glasses, or smaller. Whether you prefer clear vodka or dark rum, here are a few classic cocktail recipes, slimmed down for your next summer party.
As far as cocktails go, mint juleps are far from the worst. Bobby Flay sticks to the classic combination of bourbon whiskey, mint, sugar and shaved ice when preparing his old-fashioned Mint Julep (pictured at top).
If you’ve been searching for a new summer brunch cocktail, look no further. Ellie Krieger uses real mango in these Frozen Mango Margaritas to create a refreshing drink with tropical flair. Real mango is lighter than store-bought mango juice, but it’s still plenty sweet. Blend the orange liqueur, tequila and lime with the frozen mango pieces; limit servings to about 1 cup to keep calories in check.
Poolside lounging is even better with this Passion Fruit Hurricane, a sweet summer cocktail with a tart edge. Ted Allen gives the New Orleans classic a frosty makeover by combining rum, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and passion fruit puree with ice in a blender. With four tablespoons of dark rum per drink, one will probably get you more than just a buzz.
Ina Garten’s Lemon Drop Cocktail is a summery riff on a classic “straight-up” martini. Generally speaking, a petite cocktail with a short list of ingredients will contain fewer calories than a tall monstrosity brimming with artificial mixers. This recipe keeps it simple with just three ingredients: vodka, lemon and a little bit of sugar.
Ellie’s White Sangria takes only five minutes to assemble in a large pitcher and, better yet, contains just 143 calories per serving. Add orange juice and club soda to balance out the perfume-y combination of white wine, brandy and orange liqueur. Take the time to prepare it in the morning so the sangria has several hours to develop its fruity flavor; pull it out when dinner is ready to serve that evening.
For more refreshing summer cocktails, check out these recipes from friends and family.
Feed Me Phoebe: Hibiscus Tea Arnold Palmers, Spiked or Sober
Creative Culinary: Lime Sherbet Float with Strawberries and Prosecco
Virtually Homemade: Strawberry Swirl Pina Colada
Daisy at Home: Frozen Watermelon-ade
Homemade Delish: Summer Cocktail Delight
Taste with the Eyes: Sublime Franco-Korean Elderflower Soju Martini
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Prosecco & Chambord Cocktail
Red or Green: Fresh Watermelon & Herb Margaritas
The Mom 100: A Peach Cocktail and a Mocktail for Mixed Company
FN Dish: 6 Fruity Riffs on Classic Summer Cocktails