A delicious cocktail is the perfect way to unwind—until you see the calorie count! Your favorite drinks can contain syrups, sugary mixers, and a variety of diet no-no's.
That’s why we asked you—our creative readers—to send us your best light cocktail recipes. Here are our nine favorites so you can enjoy slim sips anytime you want.
By Bridget Rush, Rockaway, N.Y.
This light and refreshing drink is alcohol-free, but it could easily be a mixer for vodka or rum.
Ingredients: 3 oz. red grapefruit juice, 3 oz. cranberry juice, 2 oz. seltzer, wedge of lime, sprig of mint
Directions: Mix grapefruit, cranberry juices in a shaker with ice. Pour into tall glass, add 2 oz. seltzer. Finish off with wedge of lime. You can add a sprig of mint too.
By Shaheen Lokhandwala, San Francisco
With their summery taste, the citrus and mint flavors won over our judges.
Ingredients: Cointreau, tequila or vodka, lemon juice, club soda, mint leaf
Directions: Squeeze 1/2 lemon. Pour half a shot glass of Cointreau, 1/4 shot glass of either tequila or vodka. Top it off with club soda. Use a mint leaf for garnishing.
By Brenna Cialini, Fairport, N.Y.
Ginger syrup amped this mocktail up a notch.
Ingredients: 2–3 oz. pomegranate or cranberry juice, 3–4 oz. any flavor seltzer or sparkling water (my favorite is lemon), 1 oz. ginger syrup, ice, orange or lemon peel for garnish
Directions: Ginger syrup: Peel thumb size piece of ginger. Slice into rounds. In a saucepan, mix 1 cup of raw or turbinado sugar and 1 cup water. Place it over high heat. Boil until the mixture has reduced by half. Remove from heat and let it come to room temperature. Strain ginger from syrup. Cut ginger into fine dice and dry. Use as candy bits or garnish on sweets.
In a tall shaker, add ice, juice, and ginger syrup. Stir. Add seltzer. If you’d like, twist orange or lemon peel into the shaker so that the essential oils are released into the drink.
Fruity White Sangria
By Pamela Stewart, Peekskill, N.Y.
For an extra kick, be sure to add lemon or lime to this festive drink.
Ingredients: A 12-oz. can mango juice, a 12-oz. can pineapple juice, 1 liter bottle of seltzer, 1 bottle white wine (I like Chardonnay), fruit of your choice (pineapple, orange, etc.), ice
Directions: Slice up the fruit. Pour all the ingredients into a serving pitcher and add ice. Stir and refrigerate so the flavors blend. Makes 10 eight-once servings.
Calories: 94 (Calorie count varies based on fruit used.)
By Sarah Katz, Oak Park, Mich.
Lemon adds a little zest to this sweet drink.
Ingredients: 2 oz. strawberry vodka, 2 oz. light lemonade (like Minute Maid brand), splash of fresh lemon juice (to taste), strawberries for garnish (optional)
Directions: Combine the vodka, light lemonade, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a fresh strawberry. Optional: For a more intense strawberry flavor, a splash of stained strawberry puree may be added.
Calories: 130 (approximate)
Skinny Arnold Palmer (Skinny Iced Tea)
By Lisa Trace, Mountain Home, N.C.
Sweet tea drinkers will go crazy for this recipe made with sweet tea vodka.
Ingredients: 1 shot Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, sugar-free lemonade (Minute Maid Light or Crystal Light), lemon wedge for garnish
Directions: Fill 1 glass with ice, pour 1 shot of Firefly, fill glass with light lemonade, and garnish with lemon wedge.
Calories: 70 (approximate)
By Elizabeth Sprague, Altamont, N.Y.
Diluting the orange juice with diet 7-Up cuts calories and adds a nice fizz. This drink is ideal in warm weather.
Ingredients: Vodka (Stoli O, Absolut, or Skyy work well), orange juice, diet 7-Up
Directions: Fill a glass with ice, then add a shot of Stoli O and a splash of orange juice. Fill the rest with diet 7-Up. Mix. Also can be garnished with a slice of orange.
Calories: 80 (approximate)
Grown-Up Hot Chocolate
By Michelle Roy, Ocean Park, Wash.
This hot drink is like a winter version of a chocolate martini. It will satisfy your cravings for sweets and spirits at the same time!
Ingredients: Hot water, packet of diet hot chocolate, Baileys Irish Cream
Directions: Mix a hot chocolate packet in 1 cup hot water. Top it with just a splash of Baileys.
Calories: 132 (a 60-calorie diet hot chocolate mix and .75 ounces Baileys)
Frozen Fruit Twist
By Mary Kaufman, Hillside, N.J.
Frozen strawberries act as ice cubes in this alcohol-free drink. Plus, they give an added boost of flavor.
Ingredients: Diet lemon-lime soda, frozen strawberries, orange juice, ice
Directions: Put ice in a glass with 2 frozen strawberries, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of orange juice, fill with diet lemon-lime soda.
Calories: 50 (approximate)