As summer marches on, the heat takes its toll and nothing sounds better than a cool drink with a splash of your favorite alcohol. So many beverages have high calorie counts, so it seems impossible to make room for them while staying healthy. Thankfully, there are just as many that can fit into any diet. You can even make some ingredient substitutions to transform your less-healthful favorites into lighter versions. There’s no need to deprive yourself of the simple pleasure of a cool drink on a hot day just because you’re counting calories.
A tequila sunrise is one of those drinks that summons dreams of sitting on a beach, basking in the perfect warmth of the sun bouncing off of the sand. It is the iconic summer drink, both simple and delicious. However, a traditional tequila sunrise can be anywhere from 170 to 300 calories. Thankfully, you can cut that down by replacing the tequila with some sake or using low-cal orange juice.
When it comes to low-calorie drinks, it’s hard to beat the vodka soda. This classic beverage has more variations than you could possibly imagine. A standard eight-ounce vodka soda has around 130 calories because it has no carbs, sugar, or fat. Plus, they’re super easy to make! To add some flair to your glass, replace the soda with a flavored seltzer, throw in some fresh fruit juice, or add a slice of lemon or lime.
If you’re trying to beat the heat of the summer sun, nothing quite compares to the refreshing sensation delivered by a mint drink. Mint juleps combine the cooling power of mint with the kick and strength of bourbon. Use crushed ice to cool your drink quickly while still giving it a nice balance of ice to cocktail. You can expect the average mint julep to contain around 160 calories.
Sometimes you’re simply not in the mood for a fancy cocktail, and all you want is a nice, cold beer. A single can usually falls between 150 and 210 calories, which adds up fast when you're cracking more than one. Darker beers usually have more calories. However, if you substitute your beer for a lighter option, the calories drop to 70 to 100 for a can. Stick with wheats, sours, and saisons to keep your calorie count low.
Mojitos are a classic rum-based tropical drink with hundreds of variations. Most traditional mojitos have around 160 calories, making them a decent choice for those hot summer days. However, you can drop that calorie count even further by substituting out the simple syrup. Try making your mojitos with light rum and a teaspoon of sugar. You can also throw in more mint and fresh lime juice — low-cal ways to punch up the flavor.
Drinks that are heavy on syrups and sugars not only have a lot of calories, but they can also be too sweet for days with higher temps. White wine spritzers are perfect for anyone who wants a little sweetness sans the higher calorie count. All it takes is some fruit juice, white wine, and a dash of sparkling water. Toss in some fresh fruit slices for a little extra flavor. A single spritzer usually sits under 100 calories.
If you’ve used any social media in the past few years, you might have come across the trendy frosé, which is essentially just frozen rosé wine cubes that you blend like a margarita. Add some flair to this unique beverage by blending frozen fruits with the wine. Nothing screams summer like watermelon, so try that with other popular options, like raspberries. Even with the fruit, an eight-ounce frosé will sit under 100 calories.
Gin and tonics are popular drinks throughout the warmer seasons, but tonic water has more calories than you might realize. You can cut down by using diet tonic water, which has less sugar. Some mixologists also suggest swapping half of the tonic water with sparkling water or a similar option. If you worry that the drink will lose some flavor, try adding a slice of lemon or lime.
Kombucha has been rising in popularity as a health drink, plus it’s a refreshing option for a hot day. So why not transform it into the perfect adult beverage? Kombucha already has sweetness and some light fizz, so all it needs is a boozy kick. Try adding an ounce of vodka to a low-sugar kombucha, and you’ll have a great drink with under 120 calories.
Most cocktails have tons of syrup or sugar, making it easy to rack up the calories. Champagne cocktails, on the other hand, have only a single sugar cube with a bit of citrus and some bitters. A single glass will only have about 90 calories. This makes them great for almost any occasion, though they shine at patio celebrations on warm summer nights.
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