Keep the Flavour and Lower the Calories: Best Low-Cal Alcoholic Drinks

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Choosing wellness and eating in a mindful, healthy way are great goals that often make it hard to incorporate our favourite treats, like an occasional alcoholic beverage! Liquid calories from a couple of cocktails can add up quickly, but fortunately, there are easy ways to choose lower-calorie options.

In general, one serving (5oz wine, 1.5oz liquor, 12oz beer) has between 75-125 calories, but our drinks often far surpass these serving sizes! Paying attention to quantity is one of the best ways to limit your caloric intake from alcohol, but you can make other easy adjustments to reduce the added sugars in your drinks. From brunch to seasonal favourites, here are some of the best, lower-calorie drink options for any occasion.

Infuse Your Own Flavours

One of the easiest (and most fun!) ways to enjoy a lower-calorie cocktail is to infuse vodka or gin with your own flavours at home, then mix with sparkling water when you serve. Infusing the flavour yourself allows you to choose lower-calorie options and avoid all of the sugary syrups and juices often found in cocktails at the bar. From fruits to spices, herbs to vegetables, there isn’t much that won’t mix with vodka and gin! A few of the most popular options are vanilla bean, cinnamon, chile peppers, and citrus. Here’s a simple guide to flavouring your own vodka (and gin works the same way, just keep in mind that gin’s flavour works better with botanicals/spices than the sweeter things – but the sky’s the limit!).

Best for Brunch

Whether you’re cooking at home or dining out with friends, brunch menus almost beg for a delicious drink on the side. Try to stay away from the mimosas that contain a lot of sugar from the added juice. Instead, opt for a glass of extra-dry champagne with some frozen berries added for colour and flavour. If you like things a little spicier, make your own Caesar so that you can control the “extras.” Avoid pre-mixed bottles that often have lots of salt and added sugars. One quick and lower-calorie alternative? Add some Otamot Organic Spicy Sauce to your vodka for a kick of heat, tomatoey flavour, and some extra sneaky veggies.

Seasonal Spring/Summer

One of the most refreshing drinks is a mojito – for a low-calorie version, use light rum, skip the syrup and add extra mint and lime juice along with sparkling water. If you’re looking for something bubbly and portable to take on your summer vacations, try boozy kombucha; naturally low-sugar and packed with probiotics, the variety of flavours will leave you satisfied and refreshed.

Photo: Ivan Pantic via

Seasonal Fall/Winter

Rich, warm drinks are often a part of our fall and winter celebrations, but those options can come with a steep calorie toll. Instead of reaching for the eggnog or spiked hot chocolate, try options that rely on the flavours of fruit and spices instead. A hot toddy is a great cool-weather low-cal option because you can control how much honey or sugar substitute (like liquid Splenda) you add to your whiskey/bourbon, lemon juice, spices, and water. If a warm, mulled wine is a seasonal favourite, you can make a lower-calorie version at home by carefully selecting your ingredients and ratios; try making it without any added sugar (only that from the citrus) and mixing two parts wine with one part sparkling water before you put it on the stove.

Beer and Wine

If you tend to head for the beer and wine rather than the liquor and cocktails, you can still make delicious low-calorie choices without sacrificing quality and flavour. On the wine aisle, choose a rosé that isn’t too sweet (so avoid the dessert wines) to minimize the calories. For beer lovers, light and low-calorie varieties are your best bet; everything from Corona to Miller has a light option these days. If you’d like a “regular” beer, remember that a lighter colour generally means fewer calories, so avoid the stouts.

Whether you’re crafting your own infused liquor at home or out for a night with friends, knowing how to choose lower-calorie options for any occasion will help you have that drink and enjoy it, too!

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