The New Year is already upon us, and murmurings of dry January—the wellness challenge that prompts participants to give up alcohol for the month—are already making headway. If you're daunted by the idea of this extreme, you don't have to give up alcohol completely to work toward a healthier lifestyle. In fact, if calories are a concern, there are a number of low-cal cocktails that prove you can indulge without overthrowing your diet.
If you stick with classics like a martini, a gin, and tonic, an old fashioned, a vodka soda, or the like, you'll keep your calorie count under 200, thanks to simple ingredients and a lack of added sugar often found in elaborate concoctions. Or if you're looking to put a twist on a classic drink, experiment with new mixers and garnishes. Try these recipes for low-calorie cocktails based on healthy mixology favorites. Bottoms up!
Rose Lemon Spritzer
The Cocktail: Rose Lemon Spritzer
The Recipe: This gorgeous drink is enhanced with rose water for a light, floral flavor that plays well with the bright lemon citrus. A splash of vodka is all you need to turn this fresh drink into a healthy cocktail.
The Low-Calorie Twist: Sweeten your beverage with honey or agave for natural sweetness. It's free of sugary simple syrup so you can leave your guilt at home.
The Cocktail: Paloma
The Recipe: It only takes a few ingredients to throw together this light cocktail. Shake a bit of grapefruit and lime juice with tequila and ice and top off the finished product with a splash of seltzer water.
The Low-Calorie Twist: This recipe calls for a honey salt rim, but you can opt to skip the rim and avoid extra calories from the honey.
The Cocktail: Watermelon Margarita
The Recipe: All you need is tequila, lime juice, and watermelon to make this yummy beverage. Just blend cubed watermelon and combine the naturally sweet juice with the other ingredients. Serve over ice.
The Low-Calorie Twist: Unlike most margaritas, this simple low-calorie cocktail is free of sweeteners.
Thyme Gin and Tonic
The Cocktail: Thyme Gin and Tonic
The Recipe: This classic cocktail is elevated with the simple addition of thyme. The fragrant herb takes this drink up a notch and will seriously impress next time you're in charge of playing bartender for the night.
The Low-Calorie Twist: The gin and tonic is a notoriously low-calorie cocktail. The only ingredients are gin, tonic water, and your choice of garnish. It's a great option if you're ordering at a bar or making drinks at home.
The Cocktail: Citrus Manhattan
The Recipe: This sophisticated, classic cocktail calls for bourbon whiskey, vermouth, and orange bitters. Simply combine all ingredients and garnish with an orange slice.
The Low-Calorie Twist: For a cocktail known as a dessert drink, its simple ingredients hardly resemble an indulgent dessert. A classic Manhattan like this won't set you back more than 200 calories.
Cucumber Cooler Cocktail
The Cocktail: Cucumber Cooler Cocktail
The Recipe: This drink is spa water meets a gin and tonic. Refreshing lime, mint, and cucumber taste simply refreshing swirled together in one cocktail. It tastes so healthy and delicious you'll forget your drinking gin.
The Low-Calorie Twist: Basic ingredients are the key to a low-calorie cocktail, and this drink contains just gin, lime, mint, cucumber, and tonic water.
Raspberry Ginger Mojitos
The Cocktail: Raspberry Ginger Mojitos
The Recipe: Make this naturally sweet cocktail with fresh raspberries, lime, ginger, white rum, club soda, and mint. It's positively refreshing and looks just as delightful.
The Low-Calorie Twist: This cocktail is refined sugar–free, helping keep the calorie count low. Instead of classic simple syrup, the recipe calls for a honey ginger sweetener.
Rhubarb Gin Gimlet
The Cocktail: Rhubarb Gin Gimlet
The Recipe: To prepare this cocktail, you'll need gin, lime, rhubarb bitters, rhubarb simple syrup, and kaffir lime leaves for a little something extra. The rhubarb lends itself to the sweetness of the drink and upgrades the classic cocktail.
The Low-Calorie Twist: You can use a sugar alternative to knock a few calories off this tart cocktail. Keep in mind that a traditional gimlet without simple syrup will set you back no more than 150 calories.
Jalapeño Grapefruit Margarita
The Cocktail: Jalapeño Grapefruit Margarita
The Recipe: If you aren't afraid of spice, this cocktail is for you. Mix up tequila, fresh grapefruit juice, lime, and sliced jalapeño pepper. For extra spice, let the jalapeño sit in your tequila an hour before serving.
The Low-Calorie Twist: This recipe calls for an optional splash of simple syrup. If you leave out the simple syrup, you're left with a naturally flavorful healthier cocktail.
White Lady Cocktail
The Cocktail: White Lady Cocktail
The Recipe: A unique cocktail, this drink calls for dry gin, lemon juice, and Cointreau. The concoction has British roots and tastes light and citrusy. It's perfect for a summer evening.
The Low-Calorie Twist: Since the mixed drink only calls for a few simple ingredients (none of which are added sugar or syrups), it's a naturally low-calorie option.
Blackberry Champagne Cocktail
The Cocktail: Blackberry Champagne Cocktail
The Recipe: This healthy champagne cocktail calls for extra-dry champagne, Chambord, and Bogotá Blackberry Lime Bai Bubbles. It takes just five minutes to mix together and serve up straight in a martini glass.
The Low-Calorie Twist: Bai Bubbles contain just one gram of sugar and five calories, allowing you to sweeten the cocktail without adding in excessive amounts of sugar.
The Cocktail: Gin Margarita
The Recipe: This "margatini" is exactly what it sounds like. The low-calorie cocktail simply calls for gin, Cointreau, and freshly squeezed lime juice. Depending on the type of gin you use, you'll be left with a fragrant, tasty twist on the traditional drink.
The Low-Calorie Twist: You can also add in sweeteners like agave nectar or simple syrup, but going without will keep the cocktail on the healthier side.
Grapefruit Rosemary Cocktail
The Cocktail: Grapefruit Rosemary Cocktail
The Recipe: A vodka-based cocktail, this flavorful mix also requires elderflower liqueur, grapefruit juice, sparkling water, and just a splash of vanilla syrup. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a slice of grapefruit for an impressive homemade concoction.
The Low-Calorie Twist: Unflavored sparkling water is a healthier alternative to soda beverages commonly used in mixed drinks.
Sage Bee's Knees Cocktail
The Cocktail: Sage Bee's Knees Cocktail
The Recipe: You're just five minutes away from mixing up this winter cocktail. It calls for honey, water, gin, lemon juice, honey syrup, and fresh sage leaves for a light, seasonal drink.
The Low-Calorie Twist: Honey is a fantastic natural sweetener that's often used in place of simple syrup in cocktails. However, it also contributes to the delicious flavors found in this drink.
This post was originally published on January 7, 2018, and has since been updated.