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How Healthy Are Your Favorite Summer Cocktails?

Spring and summer seem to inspire some of the most yummy and exotic cocktails.  Whether it be a spicy sangria or a minty mojito or a plain old gin and tonic, happy hour seems all the more fun when you can couple it up with halter tops, sundresses and frolicking in the warm summer sun.

Unfortunately, many of these summer-time libations come with a lot of calories.  And although one drink might not be so detrimental, two or three can really start to add up.  So what is a summer happy-hour lover to do?  The chart below provides a breakdown of the good, bad and ugly of favorite summer cocktails (at standard serving size for the drink) to give you a sense of what to choose when the bartender asks you what your poison of choice is.

drink_chartThose drinks that are rated 5 stars are the best for you, when looking at both calorie and carbohydrate intake (sugars).  Those that are rated with 1 star are the worst for you.  As you can see, unfortunately, most of the most yummy drinks of summer are riddled with sugar and empty calories.  In short, those drinks that are made with hard alcohol and mixers are the most caloric, while those drinks that are mostly wine based are the best.

If you are in full happy hour mode, here are a few options to still enjoy while ensuring you don’t overdo it on your sugar or calorie intake:

Option 1: Have one summer favorite that falls under the 3 stars or less category, and if you have any more drinks thereafter, fall back to a 5 star drink moving forward.

Option 2: If you enjoy any drink that uses juices, sodas (7-Up or Tonic) or simple syrups, try substituting seltzer water for the soda portion and asking for ‘splashes’ of juice.  For instance, I love Cape Codders, but have switched to Vodka, Soda and a splash of cranberry.  See on the left how that changes the rating from 2 stars to 4 stars!

Option 3: Try wine spritzers with a splash of juice.  As you can see, wine spritzers are the best of the bunch.  Further, they are festive (with the sparkling water) and if you add a splash of juice, you’ll get a bit more flavor than a typical spritzer without a ton of extra calories.

Option 4: Try adding a little all natural soda, such as Izze Sparkling Juice, to wine for a little bit of a sparkle in your spritzer.  These don’t have HFCS or loads of added sugars.  They are purely sparkling water and juice.

Option 5: I’m NOT an advocate for this option, but I wanted to put it out there.  If you use soda in your summer cocktail, you can opt for the diet version to cut some of the calories out.  That said, I don’t subscribe to diet sodas, as they are full of chemicals that you probably don’t want to ingest.

What is your favorite summer cocktail?  Have you learned any tricks to keep the calories to a low roar?

Nutrition data sources:,,

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Nutrition Tagged with: , , , ,