When it’s time to celebrate the holidays, there’s nothing like getting together with friends and family and toasting to a great year. But be smart about what’s in that glass you’re raising! Do you really know what’s in that cocktail? Most of us assume holiday weight gain comes from festive cookies and treats, but sugar-laden booze can pack on a significant amount of calories. If you’re being mindful of your food and drink this holiday season, there are still plenty of cocktails — sangria, mojitos, cosmos and more — that are just as festive. You can have your booze and drink it, too! For a happy and healthy new year, try making these lighter holiday cocktails from some of our favorite food bloggers.
13 Healthier Holiday Cocktail Recipes
Always a party pleaser, this seemingly light drink typically packs more than 180 calories and 20 grams of sugar per glass. That’s why we’ve lightened it up with our own quick 10-minute ginger beer using pureed ginger and sparkling water. We also use stevia, an all-natural sweetener, which cuts the sugar per glass down to just half a gram and under 100 calories! Photo and Recipe: Carmen Sturdy / Life by Daily Burn
Lighten up a cozy, wintertime favorite by using homemade ginger syrup instead of sugary ginger beer. At just 185 calories, this drink won’t weigh you down like a creamy eggnog. Grab your favorite dark rum and some friends! Photo and Recipe: Emily Miller / Life by Daily Burn
Ditch the cream and use skim milk to make a lighter version of this holiday favorite. Spike your ‘nog by adding white rum or bourbon after the eggnog has chilled for a few hours in a fridge. Dress up your creamy treat with a sprinkle of fresh ground nutmeg! Photo and Recipe: Perry Santanachote / Life by Daily Burn
Tropical passion fruit is rich in iron, folate and protein, and its fruity flavor perfectly complements dry champagne. Garnish your cocktail with a few raspberries for extra style points! Photo and Recipe: Perry Santanachote / Life by Daily Burn
The sea breeze gets a cold weather makeover with this cheery cocktail! Mix vodka, grapefruit juice, tonic syrup and soda water together and garnish with mint leaves and pomegranate. The festive presentation will wow guests, and the flavor won’t disappoint either. Photo and Recipe: Jillian / Catch My Party
Sip on this citrus concoction to brighten dreary winter days! A colorful way to add flavor, clementine and lemon juice provide immunity-boosting vitamin C. For those keeping a close watch on their sugar intake, skip the sugary rim or opt for stevia instead. Photo and Recipe: Dulcie and Sarah / Two-Tarts
White wine and gluten-free vodka get all dressed up in this truly delightful drink. It has all of the seasonal flavor you crave — cinnamon sticks, honey, apple cider and orange — but none of the simple syrup you’d find in your local bar’s cocktails. Double (or triple!) the recipe easily depending on how many guests you’re expecting. Photo and Recipe: Alexis / Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
This drink delivers a one-two punch when it comes to warming you up! Warm cider infused with tea (go with decaf if it’s close to bedtime) gets can extra kick from a shot of rum or bourbon. Ginger and honey can help you recover from a cold and a bit of alcohol helps with restless sleep, so try making one the next time you’re feeling under the weather. Photo and Recipe: Gina / Kleinworth & Co.
Champagne adds festive fizz to this pom-tastic holiday drink. Save some calories by opting for white rum instead of dark rum, but don’t skimp on the vitamin C-packed lime juice! Serve the drink after garnishing with some fresh pomegranate arils. Photo and Recipe: Jennifer / Peanut Butter and Peppers
This fruity wine “punch” is incredibly easy to make for a large crowd. Plus, adding nutritious fruit is a great way to liven up cheaper wines. Just add pears, apple, mango, grapes and clementines to your carafe the night before serving. The soaked fruit and sangria will taste even better the next day! Photo and Recipe: Alissa / Girl Makes Food
Cheers to a refreshing drink that only takes a few minutes to make! Muddle the fresh rosemary, lemon juice and honey to release the flavor and help it bind to the gin. Bonus: Rosemary can aid digestion, which may come in handy if you’ve eaten too many appetizers. Photo and Recipe: Kate / Cookie and Kate
Give the classic cosmo an upgrade this holiday season. A zing of ginger spices things up and delivers numerous antioxidants while white cranberry juice packs healthy vitamin C. If you’re comfortable with muddling and using a cocktail shaker, impress your guests with this festive treat! Photo and Recipe: Adam / Inspired Taste
13. Cider Rum Punch
Perfect for winter get-togethers, this cocktail brings together the season’s best flavors. Lemon and apple cider enhance the flavor of dark rum, which has a naturally sweet caramel flavor. Since darker alcohols are denser, heavier and more caloric than other alcohols, add club soda to lighten the punch. Photo and Recipe: Mike / Verses From My Kitchen
Originally posted December 6, 2013. Updated December 2017.