Healthy alcoholic drinks for summer

It seems like there’s always another “drinking” holiday coming up, and right now that’s the 4th of July. Regardless of the occasion, I’ve got you covered with these healthier alcoholic drink options!

Alcoholic drinks can be a major source of calories. And that’s why they’re often the first place you should look when cleaning up your diet.

Unlike with food, wines and liquors don’t have a nutritional label that breaks down the calories and sugars, so it’s hard to know what you’re getting!

When you’re at a party, celebration, or hanging out with friends, you want to have fun! The last thing you want to worry about is the exact number of calories in your cocktail. Talk about a buzz-kill.

So let’s make it simple!

First we’ll go over some simple things to look for when it comes to alcoholic drinks. Then I’ll give you a round-up of my favorite recipes.

(Spoiler alert: they’re all healthy and can be sipped guilt-free!)

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What’s in these common alcoholic drinks?

Let’s start by breaking down the calorie and sugar content of the most common standard-sized drinks.

I’ll also break down common drink additives – because even if you know how many calories are in a shot of vodka, maybe it’s the club soda calories that got you.

Type of AlcoholCaloriesSugar (grams)
Vodka, tequila, gin, rum, whiskey
1.5 fluid oz shot
12 fluid oz
Wine, red
5 fluid oz
Wine, white
5 fluid oz
Wine, sweet
3.5 fluid oz
4 fluid oz

Keep in mind that the serving sizes for these mixers do not reflect how much is in a normal drink. But for some of them, the calories and sugar they’ll add will still be quite shocking.

Type of Mixer (12 fluid oz)CaloriesSugar (grams)
Seltzer water00
Tonic water13032
Club soda00
Cranberry juice18046
Diet Coke00

Did you find any of that surprising? I did!

I didn’t realize that beer had no sugar, and that normal wines have virtually none too. Where they get you are the calories! And the mixers too, of course.

5 Rules for Healthier Alcoholic Drink Options

There are trends to look for when it comes to healthy drinking! Knowing “the rules” will enable you to add diversity to your drink line-up, so you never have to stick with one boring drink you’re super tired of.

Let’s put the fun back into responsible adulting!

Healthy alcoholic drinks for summer

Rule #1: Choose no sugar, no calorie cocktail additions

As you can see above, all mixers are not created equal. Opting for zero-calorie seltzer water over tonic water or a diet coke over regular coke will save you tons of calories and sugar.

And if there’s not enough flavor masking going on, add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice. Heck, that even adds some vitamins!

Rule #2: Simple for the win

The more that’s added to your drink, the more likely sugar will sneak in.

So keep it simple. Choose 2-3 ingredients you like from the tables above that are on the “healthier side.” And if it’s not “healthy,” add less!

For example, is a vodka cranberry your fav? Instead, add just a splash of cranberry and then opt for a dash of lime seltzer water. Way less calories and sugar, and a fun new twist on your good ole’ classic.

(Keep reading for a healthier vodka cranberry below!)

And better yet, if you’re a sip-it-on-the-rocks kind of person, no need to get fancy! Liquor on the rocks will have to be sipped slow, meaning it will last you much longer and have no additional calories.

Of course, that’s not for everybody!

Rule #3: Go red (wine) or go home

I didn’t even like red wine until recently, though now I love it. If you also like both reds and whites, opting for red wine will give you a boost of antioxidants.

While some researchers say you shouldn’t necessarily go out of your way to drink a glass of red wine every night, it has been linked to improved brain health and decreased risk of heart disease. Especially pinot noir has a lot of those beneficial antioxidants.

So who am I to say don’t have a glass??

Just be sure that one glass doesn’t turn into a bunch more, at which point the calories are counteracting any benefits you’ll have gotten.

Rule #4: Say no to syrup

If you’re out on the town and looking for the best drinks to order at a bar (for your health), then try this tip: if a drink usually comes with syrup, ask for none to be put in. If it has little else in it, you can instead ask for a splash of juice or another mixer.

Then once you get the drink, you’ll have more control over how sweet it is. Does it need a bit more? Then you can add your own sugar or even stevia.

You’ll be less likely to have a sickly sweet drink, and your body will thank you for it.

Rule #5: Learn your drinking habits

Pay attention to what you decide to drink over the course of a party or event. Maybe you already know what your typical pattern is!

Do you have one glass of wine and then have a habit of continually refilling the glass? Do you realize at the end of the night that you can’t remember how many beers you had? Or maybe you already know that your favorite drink is margaritas, and you’ll feel really deprived if you go to an event and don’t let yourself have one…but after that one, you feel satisfied.

It’s important to know how you react in different situations and with different types of drinks.

Learning your drinking habits can help you prepare so you don’t consume as much.

healthier alcoholic drinks for summer

5 Healthy Alcoholic Drinks for Summer

So with those rules in mind, here are 5 healthy alcoholic drinks for summer that follow our guidelines. I love round-ups like this because you get to see how creative other people can get with their healthy recipe twists!

1. La Croix Vodka Cranberry

This recipe uses cran-raspberry La Croix to boost the flavor but keep the calories low. While each serving does call for 4 oz cranberry juice, consider the chart above. Try putting just a splash of cranberry juice to start and adjusting as needed.

Get the recipe!

2. Blackberry Kombucha Vodka Smash

Here the berries and kombucha do all the mixer work. Because of the ginger kombucha, this drink would be a good healthy substitute for a moscow mule.

Get the recipe!

3. Rosé Grapefruit Mimosa

This drink has a splash of juice but overall has only 145 calories and 6 grams of sugar. Not too shabby for a tasty summer drink!

Don’t miss the other tips in this recipe, like watering down store-bought juice or squeezing your own instead!

healthier alcoholic drink options

Get the recipe!

4. Coconut Blueberry Mojito With Strawberry

This mojito recipe is a perfect healthy summer – and 4th of July! – cocktail. Coconut water, mint, and fresh fruit make it refreshing, while monkfruit makes it sweet without the sugar.

And remember, you can always start light on the sweetener and add more if needed.

Get the recipe!

5. Healthy 4th of July Cocktail

Even better, try this juice-free cocktail on the 4th. With wine, seltzer, and a splash of cardamom bitters, it’ll taste great while keeping your nutrition in check. Bonus: bitters can aid your digestion!

Get the recipe!

I hope you’ve gotten some ideas and inspiration for healthier alcoholic drink options! For more nutrition tips, check out this post on How to Eat Healthy During the Holidays.

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