Your Summer Cocktail Guide

Featured Article, Healthy Meal Ideas, Healthy Recipes and Nutrition
on August 9, 2013
6. Be wary of liquid calories.

Sometimes oblivion is bliss—especially when it comes to the calorie content of your favorite summer cocktail. Earlier this year, the Treasury Department issued a ruling allowing liquor distributors to display nutritional labels on liquor bottles, meaning consumers will no longer be in the dark about what’s lurking inside that frosted cocktail glass. For frequent boozers, the truth will be sobering: Sneaky sources of sugar, carbohydrates and empty calories, alcoholic beverages threaten to derail the efforts of even the most judicious dieter. You may log hours on the treadmill or religiously swear off carbs, but toss back a few martinis at happy hour, and you’ve soon unwittingly ingested the caloric equivalent of a Big Mac.

If you don’t want to abstain entirely from your occasional happy hour habit (we get it—we don’t either), take heart: A number of alcohol providers, responding to the public clamor for lower-calorie drink alternatives, have debuted warm weather drinks that won’t wreak havoc on your diet. We’ve sipped and sampled the lineup of skinny cocktails and handpicked a few of our favorites to help you round-out the summer in sinless taste. Cheers!

RELATED: Low Calorie Cocktails 

Sinless Margarita Mix
Rating: 3.6/5
A traditional restaurant-style margarita weighs in at as much as 550 calories—almost as much as a Big Mac! Say sayonara to sugary, high-cal margarita mixes and opt for this diet-friendly margarita mix from Sinless Cocktails. An all-natural, sugar-free margarita alternative sweetened with stevia extract, this mix contains just 5 calories per serving size and 100 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. Unlike other sugar-free margarita mixes, which often have a cloying, sickly-sweet aftertaste, our reviewers reported that the mix was nicely sweetened with a tart dash of lime to balance it out. Overall, Sinless margaritas are a delightfully light libation that will make a great addition to your next backyard fiesta.

Scales™ Cocktails Whiskey Sour Mix
Rating: 3.3/5
A stiff whiskey sour is a bar benchmark. Unfortunately, this time-honored cocktail isn’t exactly diet fodder: An 8 fluid-ounce serving of traditional sour mix packs 180 calories and a whopping 44 grams of sugar—almost as much as a large ice cream cone from Dairy Queen (and that’s before the whiskey is added to the equation). Thankfully, Scales™ Cocktails has remedied the situation by debuting a sugar-free, low-carb whiskey sour mix that won’t break the calorie bank. The perfect balance of tart and sweet, Scales™ Whiskey Sour mix contains a mere 5 calories per 4-ounce serving, so you can sip away and still zip up your skinny jeans. We enjoyed the mix’s tangy, complex flavor profile, which would hold up well to even the strongest of whiskeys.

Skinnygirl® Mojito
Rating: 3.1/5
When you’re saddling up to the bar, mojitos seem like a fairly innocuous choice—how bad can soda water, rum and fresh mint be?—but not all mojitos are created equal: Depending on how heavy-handed your bartender is with the sugar and Triple Sec, a 7-ounce mojito can set you back as much as 172 calories. The ever-popular Skinnygirl® Cocktails collection has revised the classic mojito to make it more suitable to the calorie-conscious. Combining Cruzan® Rum with a cool touch of citrus and mint, this ready-to-serve mojito mix is the perfect summertime sip. Our tasters enjoyed the drink’s refreshingly light taste, a juxtaposition of cooling mint and tart lime. Some reviewers complained that the drink wasn’t minty enough for their liking, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to doctor up this cocktail with a squeeze of fresh lime and mint leaf garnish.

Bacardi® Classic Cocktails Light Piña Colada
Rating: 4/5
Nothing satisfies quite like a piña colada on a balmy summer day, but it shouldn’t come as a shock to learn that these creamy tropical drinks are bona fide diet disasters. Made with calorie-dense ingredients—including cream of coconut—and often served in towering glasses, piña coladas clock in at an alarming 644 calories and 90 grams of carbs. Thankfully, rum behemoth BACARDI® has launched a guiltless, pre-mixed piña colada alternative with less than 95 calories per 4-ounce serving. Combining fresh pineapple and sweet coconut water with rum, this refreshing cocktail—although not nearly as rich or creamy as a traditional piña colada—faithfully delivers the tropical coconut taste of a classic piña colada for a fraction of the calories. Our reviewers enjoyed that the beverage was made with real sugar and lacked the saccharine, syrupy taste of artificial sweeteners. Some tasters indicated that the drink tasted a bit watered down, so you might try blending the mix with ice for a more authentic piña colada texture and taste.

Scales™ Cocktails Bloody Mary Mix
Rating: 4.5/5
A libation made with vodka, tomato juice and spices, the humble Bloody Mary is a classic brunch-time staple. As far as cocktails go, Bloody Marys do have some redeeming nutritional value, thanks to the tomato juice base. However, traditional Bloody Mary mix is chock-full of bad-for-you sodium: a 4-oz serving packs nearly 640 mg of sodium—almost 30 percent of your daily allowance. Slash sodium without skimping on flavor by serving up this healthy Bloody Mary mix from Scales™ Cocktails. Scales Bloody Mary Mix boasts 70 percent less sodium than leading brands, but the mix still has pizzazz thanks to special ingredients like Texas Pete Hot Sauce and fresh sea salt. Staff members enthusiastically sung the praises of this full-bodied Bloody Mary mix, raving about the drink’s “spicy kick” and “great depth of flavor.”