healthy living

Healthy (or healthier) cocktail ideas

MojitoLast week, I was on a girls’ night out with my friends, who are all weirdo healthy food people too (although much stricter than I am!). One is a vegan, one’s into paleo, and one has given up sugar for 3 months now. (I know…try coming up with ideas for apps we can all split! Not possible.)  🙂

Anyway, the conversation turned, as it will on a girls’ night, to cocktails, and specifically the fact that it’s really hard to find places that do “healthy” cocktails…or at least as healthy as cocktails can be. We did a little brainstorming (and then I went home and did a little research), and here are some of the ways we collectively learned that you can enjoy your fave drinks with (at least a little) less guilt:

Make your favorite cocktails healthier

Some ideas to make your favorite recipes a little less awful for you include:

Use real fruit juice. Either for flavoring or as a mixer (cranberry juice, orange juice, pomegranate juice…you can really get creative!).

Take it on the rocks. There are almost literally a gajillion different flavors of vodka out there now. And while some of them (like salmon? blech!) aren’t exactly the sort you’d drink straight-up (or ever, I say), there are plenty that are so scrumptious you don’t even need to mix them with anything. Try a strawberry- or cake-flavored vodka on the rocks and save yourselves all those mixer calories.

Make “simple syrup” differently. Simple syrup is called for in many drink recipes, including mojitos, and is very easy to make—all it is is sugar and warm water. But, you can replace that sugar with healthier alternatives like honey or agave nectar (good option for vegans).

Go for light over dark alcohol. You may have heard that dark alcohol is more likely to give you a hangover than light or clear alcohol (like vodka or white rum). It’s not an old wife’s tail; dark alcohol contains more toxins, making it worse for your body.

Choose “lite” alcohol. This time I don’t mean the color, but the calorie count. The health craze has finally reached the adult beverage industry with brands like Skinny Girl Cocktails offering lower-calorie options of vodka, wine, and even pre-mixed cocktails.

Use diet soda. You’re better off not using soda at all as a mixer, but if you’re really attached to your rum and Cokes, you can at least make them a leetle less bad for you by using Diet Coke or Coke Zero.

Dilute it juuuust a tad. Filling up even a little of your glass with club soda or sparkling water can help you feel like you’re getting more without adding any extra guilt.

Use fresh garnishes. Mint leaves, lemon, and even putting pieces of real fruit in your drink instead of using flavored syrups can up the nutrition level and cut back on calories. One of my favorite drinks at a local bar here is a cucumber-and-mint concoction. It’s so refreshing and summery.

Skip the dessert-y drinks. I love a delicious Godiva chocolate martini as much as the next girl…and on special occasions, yes I will still indulge! But overall, all those yummy chocolate/caramel/ /crème brûlée martinis out there (rimmed in sugar and graham cracker crusts, of course!) are the girls’ night out equivalent of downing a super-sized Big Mac.

If you have to satisfy your sweet tooth, you’re better off order a small bit of liqueur, like amaretto or Kahlua, to sip over ice. (Still not great for you compared to other options, but better than the Big-Mac-in-a-glass.)

Avoid heavy creams. The consistency may not match perfectly, but if a recipe calls for cream, why not try flavored almond milk? I’ve made a delicious chai white Russian with vanilla almond milk that tasted just as great as the original recipe.

Want some new recipes?

I found these links during my online search, and they have some really yummy looking drinks I can’t wait to try making:

60 Healthier Drinks for Boozing

5 Fabulous Cocktails Under 220 Calories

8 Cocktails That Are Good for You (Really!)

What’s your go-to cocktail? How could you make it healthier?





photo credit:  TheCulinaryGeek


  • My husband got into strict paleo and his drinking habits became a nightmare! No beer just straight whiskey and to begin with he did misjudge how much he had to drink and went over the edge like a teenager!

    • Yikes! On paleo, can you mix your liquor with fruit juice at least, since fruit is natural? Or is that considered too “processed” by strict standards?

      P.S. Does whiskey even count, since it has to be distilled by a man-made process?

  • These are great points. I have to say I just went on a week long adventure to an all inclusive resort and only have 1 drink while I was there. I felt like I wasn’t getting my monies worth not drinking all the unlimited alcohol, and may have had some if I had you’re tips here – but man is it hard to drink “healthy” and still have a cocktail!

    • It is, but these tips are a huge help. They’ve definitely made me feel a little less guilty about indulging (in moderation, of course!) in the future. 🙂

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