Not willing to go cold turkey on cocktails, even though you’re trying to cut back on calories? We’re not going to lie, alcohol can pack a hefty caloric punch — just one shot of vodka has a whopping 96 calories, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. The good news is there are easy ways to lighten up your favorite concoctions, so you can imbibe in moderation — without the guilt.
First things first: Ditch the sugary mixers and load your drink with healthy fruits and herbs to get a buzz without giving yourself a sugar high. Need a hint of sweet in your sips? Make your own simple syrup using stevia (we’ve got a recipe here!) or try honey as a sweetener, instead. Using fresh squeezed juices, rather than concentrated blends, can help add a healthier twist to your favorite drinks, too.
These 15 lightened-up cocktails are easy enough to make at home. And there’s no shame in whipping out your phone at your go-to watering hole to show the bartender how to lighten up that margarita you love, either.
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15 Creative Low-Calorie Cocktails
1. Coconut Water Champagne Fruit Punch (132 calories)
Break out the bubbly: Four ounces of champagne contains only 91 calories, making it a go-to for health-conscious revelers. This punch features hydrating coconut water and a splash of fruit juice for flavoring. Plus, you can garnish your flute with some fresh berries or pineapple, too. Whip one up for your next post-sweat session brunch. Photo and recipe: Averie Sunshine / Averie Cooks
2. Ginger Kombucha Cocktail (103 calories)
Made by fermenting tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast, kombucha is a great source of good-for-you probiotics. But did you know it could make a tasty mixer, too? Pick up some ginger-flavored kombucha next time you hit the store, and stir it up alongside a splash of vodka, mint and lemon for a drink that tastes fancy but is still easy to make. Photo and recipe: Jeanine / Love and Lemons
3. Roasted Cherry Sage Lemonade Cocktail (150 calories)
The natural sweetness of roasted cherries renders simple syrup an optional ingredient in this recipe. Pick up sage-flavored spirits if you can find ‘em, or muddle your own sage leaves instead. Fresh squeezed lemon juice gives your glass the refreshing tanginess of a lemonade-based cocktail, without all the added sugar. Photo and recipe: Brandy / Nutmeg Nanny
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4. Kir Royale (104 calories)
Ah, the Kir Royale. It’s so simple you could almost make it in your sleep (not that we’d advise it). Crème de cassis, a liqueur made of black currants, spikes this bubbly-based option with some major fruity flavor. Pro tip: You can use sprinkle the liqueur over a serving of vanilla fro-yo, for a berry delicious twist on your favorite dessert, too. Photo and recipe: Erin Clarke / Well Plated by Erin
5. Skinny Margarita (117 calories)
No drink screams “Warm weather!” more than a margarita. But unless you’re prepared to guzzle hundreds of calories, you might want to order up a “skinny” version. Get your citrus fix from fresh OJ instead of a sweetened liqueur for the same great taste — without turning your cocktail into a calorie bomb. Photo and recipe: Ali Ebright / Gimme Some Oven
6. Strawberry Grapefruit Mimosa (122 calories)
A plain old mimosa isn’t that bad for you — but this crowd-pleasing (and pretty!) drink will take your go-to brunch cocktail to the next level. The combination of grapefruit juice and champagne is sure to please your taste buds — and thyme adds an herbaceous twist. Bonus: Grapefruit contains lycopene, which can help fight free radicals in your body. Photo and recipe: Elsie Larson / A Beautiful Mess
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7. Coconut Mango Mojito (126 calories)
This coconut-rum based drink will give you an island vibe, even if you’re landlocked — plus, the mango puree brings vitamins A and C to the table. Thanks to some club soda bubbles and the refreshing taste of mint, this drink is light and refreshing enough to enjoy any time. Photo and recipe: Jessica Merchant / How Sweet Eats
8. Sparkling Fruit Sangria (131 calories)
Get a load of all the fruit in this drink! The strawberries and oranges will help you score a hefty dose of vitamin C, so you can feel virtuous even when treating yourself. Make sure to give the mixture some time to soak, so the fruit can properly absorb the booze. Photo and recipe: Sally / Sally’s Baking Addiction
9. Clementine, Bourbon, & Clove Cocktail (149 calories)
This bourbon-based drink is perfect to sip on during a cold snap. The earthiness of the cloves complements the sweetness of clementine juice, creating a mix of flavors so rich you’ll be satisfied after just one serving. Photo and recipe: Dulcie Wilcox / Two Tarts
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10. French Kiss Cocktail (116 calories)
Here’s a treat for all you berry lovers out there. Packed with antioxidants, the raspberries in this drink act as a natural sweetener (and a post-cocktail snack?). Add a bit of raw honey if you like your cocktails on the sweeter side. Photo and recipe: Alexis Kornblum / Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
11. Red Pepper Martini (122 calories)
Since this recipe requires an entire bell pepper, we’re pretty sure it practically qualifies as a salad. Spice up your cocktail experience with some jalapeno, a dash of hot sauce and some fresh ground black pepper, too. Photo and recipe: Kate Taylor / Cookie and Kate
12. Strawberry Rhubarb Sangria (107 calories)
Meet your new no-fuss party drink. Replace simple syrup with Truvia to cut this cocktail down to only five grams of sugar. Plus, since each glass is chock full of nutrient-rich fresh orange juice, oranges and strawberries, the guests at your next get-together can drink up and still enjoy dessert. Photo and recipe: Perry Santanachote / Life by DailyBurn
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13. Mint Gimlet (150 calories)
Simplicity speaks volumes in this easy four-ingredient cocktail. Gimlets are heavy on the booze, so be sure to watch your serving sizes. A kick of mint is an easy way to take this classic drink to the next level — and just a half an ounce of simple syrup ensures your taste buds won’t be overwhelmed by sweetness. Photo and recipe: Catherine Sheppard / The Life Styled
14. Ginger Beer Margaritas (142 calories)
As long as ginger beer is the star of the show (rather than one of several caloric ingredients), it’s a safe bet for spicing up a low-cal concoction. Fresh lime juice ensures this mix still tastes like a margarita — and don’t forget the salt to rim your glass. Photo and recipe: John and Dana / Minimalist Baker
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15. Pineapple and Coconut Champagne Cocktail (70 calories)
Drink this one while you’re on the beach — or just wishing you were. Pineapple sends some energizing vitamin B coursing through your system, while the coconut flakes add a bit of delicious texture — plus, coconut is rich in fiber, too. Photo and recipe: Shanna / PineappleandCoconut
Originally published March 2015. Updated September 3, 2016.