Indeed, alcohol is unhealthy, but from time to time we all drink a glass.
As alcoholic drinks can be a sneaky source of calories, sugar, and even salt — but not when you play bartender.
Try to get a few healthier alternatives under that (suddenly much looser) belt to impress friends and family and order with confidence when out at the bar.
Here are the eight key guidelines that make our drinks healthier options:
Use only fresh-squeezed or 100 percent fruit juice to reduce added sugars.
Fruit juice can still be a dangerfood, though, so sometimes it’s best to dilute it with water or ice to cut back on calories.
Choose seltzer water over other carbonated waters to eliminate added sodium and other additives. For recipes that call for soda, skimp on portions, or opt for diet or natural (read: less added sugar) versions — though those can have their pitfalls, too.
Make simple syrup with honey which, though sugary, has some added benefits, like a healthy dose of antioxidants. It also gives you better control of the sugar content. Any recipe that calls for simple syrup will use the following recipe: ½ tablespoon honey mixed with ¾ tablespoon warm water.
Use whole fruit instead of sugar or flavored syrups. The fruit itself adds fiber, natural sugars, and vitamins.
Choose light alcohol over dark alcohol. The dark stuff contains more compounds known as congeners, which can worsen hangovers.
Limit yourself to one shot per drink. Multi-alcohol cocktails can pack in serious calories, so we kept ours to one shot (or 1 ½ ounces) each. The shooters and shots we included actually contain less than one shot each to further lessen the caloric load.
Size matters — especially when it comes to consuming liquid calories. That’s why we kept all our drinks right around the 8-ounce mark.
Choose nutritious ingredients. Ginger, coffee, and lemon star in several of our drinks. They’ve each got their own proven health benefits, even though they may not totally counteract the negative effects of alcohol. (Note: Too much alcohol and caffeine can both dehydrate — making hangovers even worse — so try to keep it at no more than one cup of Joe for the night.)
In the bottom of a glass, muddle 12 fresh mint leaves, the juice of ½ lime, and 1 tablespoon simple syrup.
Add a few ice cubes and pour in 1 ½ ounces (one shot) of light rum and ¾ cup seltzer.
Garnish with a lime wedge.
Pour 1 shot vodka, 1 shot cranberry juice (100 percent juice, no sugar added), and 1 shot fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice over ice.
Add a splash of seltzer and enjoy! (Preferably in a beach chair by the water!)
In a glass with ice, combine 1 shot of tequila and 2 shots fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Top with a splash of cranberry juice (no-sugar-added, 100 percent juice).
Muddle half a very ripe peeled pear in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.
Add ice, ½ shots fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and 1 shot pear vodka. (Regular vodka works, too.) Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a slice of fresh pear.
In a cocktail shaker, combine: 1 shot mango vodka, 1 shot simple syrup, and 1 shot fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
Pour over ice and garnish with a mango slice and cinnamon stick.
Grapefruit and Vodka
For a zesty cocktail, combine the juice of ½ a grapefruit and 1 shot of vodka topped with ½ cup seltzer.
Gingered Pear and Brandy Cocktail
Create a ginger-infused simple syrup by mixing together 1 shot warm simple syrup and ¾ tablespoon chopped and peeled fresh ginger. Let stand 15 minutes, then strain.
Mix together ginger syrup, 1 shot of cognac, and ½ cup pear juice or nectar and pour over ice.
Blend together ½ cup ice, ½ cup coconut milk, ¼ cup fresh pineapple chunks, and 1 shot white rum.
Combine 1 shot simple syrup, 1 shot white rum, 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice, a small handful of frozen strawberries, and ½ cup of ice. Blend.
Blend 1 shot simple syrup, the juice from ½ lemon and 1 lime, 1 shot of tequila, and ½ cup of ice.
Garnish with a slice of lime, but skip the salt.
Puree ¼ a honeydew melon and 1 kiwi (peeled), the juice from 1 lime, simple syrup (mix 1 shot honey with 2 tablespoons warm water), and ½ cup sake. Blend with ½ cup ice.
Into a Champagne flute, pour 2 shots fresh-squeezed orange juice, 2 shots sparkling wine, and¼ cup seltzer.
In a wine glass, combine two strawberries (halved), ½ a fresh peach (diced), ½ a pear (diced), 2 shots white wine, and ¼ cup seltzer.
Toss ½ an apple (sliced), ½ an orange (sliced), and 4 grapes into a glass. Add ½ cup fruity red wine and ¼ cup seltzer.
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