For those who also enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two on a regular basis, those drinks, like desserts, can add extra calories, especially if mixed with simple syrup and other sugar-laden ingredients. But there are ways you can still enjoy those drinks and not pile on any extra calories.
The two best ways to enjoy a drink and still avoid a lot of calories are by exchanging your usual brand of alcohol and your high-calorie mixers for lower-calorie options.
Keep in mind that one jigger (1.5 ounces) of most kinds of alcohol, including vodka, bourbon, gin, and rum, are all approximately 100 calories. As I mentioned before, what boosts the caloric intake are the premade mixes or any other ingredients that you add to the alcohol, like simple syrup and regular soft drinks. But you can significantly lower your caloric intake by switching to diet soft drinks and using fresh or frozen fruit instead of simple syrup.
With my recommended changes in mind, here is a list of the 10 best low-calorie alcoholic drinks. I also included calorie information in bold.
1. Vodka Soda With Lime
Vodka soda with lime is a simple drink to make that contains no added sugar and weighs in at only 106 calories.
Just add your favorite brand of sparkling water to vodka, add fresh lime juice, and you have a refreshing beverage that is just about as low-calorie as you can get when using 80-proof alcohol.
This drink has been around for a long time and is a vodka version of a Rickey, which was originally made with gin or bourbon, the juice of half a lime, and club soda. In fact, the Rickey is a delicious drink, whether it is made with vodka, bourbon, or gin.
But, by substituting Keel vodka for your regular brand, not only is the alcohol content of your drink cut by 25%, the calories in your vodka soda with lime are cut in half. Keel vodka has only 23.8% alcohol content, or 47.6 proof, when compared with the 40% alcohol content found in regular vodka, and weighs in with only 58 calories.
2. Skinny Margarita
Who doesn’t like a margarita? This drink appeals to most folks who have an occasional alcoholic beverage. The Margarita is made from tequila, triple sec, and lime juice, has salt around the glass rim, and contains anywhere from 250 to 300 calories. To be more precise, according to the USDA, the margarita contains 274 calories.
If, however, you are watching your calories and don’t want to add 274 calories to that meal you just enjoyed, try substituting a skinny margarita for the higher calorie version. A skinny margarita is made by mixing 1 shot (1-½ oz) of tequila, 1 shot (1-½ oz) of orange juice, and the juice of one lime (2 tablespoons), shaking the mixture over ice, and straining it into a glass prepared by running a lime slice around the rim of the glass to moisten and then dipping the rim in kosher or any other kind of coarse salt.
If you like a sweeter margarita, mix one-half packet of stevia with a small amount of hot water and add that to the margarita mix.
The skinny margarita only contains 130 calories vs. the regular version’s 274 calories and has a much fresher taste.
The breakdown of those 130 calories is as follows: 1.5 oz of tequila = 98 calories; 1.5 oz of orange juice = 19 calories; juice of 1 lime = 11 calories; and ½ packet of Stevia = 2 calories.
3. White Wine Spritzer
An alcoholic beverage that has recently become quite popular at a time when many people are interested in reducing both their caloric intake and their alcohol consumption is a white wine spritzer, made by combining equal parts of white wine and either sparkling water or club soda.
A normal serving of wine is 5 ounces, which contains approximately 60 calories.
By drinking a white wine spritzer instead, those calories are cut in half so that you are only consuming 30 calories per drink. By replacing half the alcohol, a white wine spritzer gives you a more refreshing drink with only half the calories.
4. Low-Carb Sangria
Although there are many variations of sangria, including non-alcoholic versions, the drink is basically red wine mixed with fruit and fruit juice. There is also a white wine version of sangria and premade sangria mixers. But, if you are trying to lower your caloric intake, I recommend making your own sangria and avoiding the pre-made versions.
EatingWell.com recommends a homemade version of Sangria that includes these ingredients:
- 25 oz bottle of Shiraz Wine
- ¾ cup Orange Juice
- ⅓ cup Brandy
- 2 medium Oranges, peeled and sliced
- 1 medium Apple, quartered and sliced
Mix ingredients in a large pitcher, refrigerate for 2 hours, and serve over ice.
Each 8-ounce serving of this recipe has 184 calories, but if you substitute a bottle of Prosecco wine, which has 80 calories per 8-ounce serving, for the Shiraz, which has a whopping 122 calories per 8-ounce glass, you are reducing your caloric intake by 42 calories per glass.
5. Hard Seltzer
Another popular ready-made alcoholic beverage is hard seltzer. It is packaged like beer and is seeing a recent rise in popularity. While hard seltzer appears to be very similar to vodka and soda, that is not the case, and it is quite different from any other type of spirits. In fact, hard seltzer doesn’t contain any type of distilled spirits.
According to The Spruce Eats, it is made by adding yeast to a mixture of sugar and water and allowing it to ferment and then adding natural or artificial flavors to that fermented mixture. This process creates a beverage that is low in carbs and calories and only contains between 4 and 8 percent of alcohol by volume.
So you can see why this drink would be popular with anyone watching their carbs and calories, and it is even gluten-free and Keto friendly. Plus, this popular drink provides several serving options:
- Serve it in the can like beer straight out of a cooler.
- Serve it in a glass like a mixed drink, either neat or over ice.
- Add fresh fruit for a sweeter, fresher taste.
- Use it as a mixer by adding a shot or two of some type of alcohol.
Here is how hard seltzer stacks up next to other low-calorie drinks. I’m using the White Claw brand as an example because that is what I am most familiar with.
- They come in a 12-ounce can, which has 100 calories per can or bottle. Other brands range from 80 to 100 calories per can.
- The 12-ounce can contains only 1 gram of sugar.
- There is only 5 percent alcohol content.
- They come in a variety of fruity flavors, including pineapple, watermelon, and peach.
Because it has a lower calorie, carb, and alcohol content, hard seltzer has also been considered a healthier choice than other alcoholic beverages, but according to Healthline, that doesn’t mean that hard seltzer is more nutritious than other alcoholic beverages and that “they still contain empty calories with little nutritional value.”
6. Light Beer
Most brands of light beer have a lower alcohol content and fewer calories than regular beer, which makes it a good choice if you are trying to lose weight, and beer is your drink of choice. Beer has been known to add pounds (Did you ever hear of a beer belly?), and light beer gives you the taste of beer without all the added carbs and calories.
While there are approximately 154 calories in a can of regular beer, most brands of light beer weigh in at only 104 calories. However, Miller makes a light beer called Miller 64 that only has 64 calories in a 12-ounce can and is one of the better-tasting light beers.
And, for those beer drinkers who are following a keto or low-carb diet, according to Ketologic, Miller Genuine Draft 64 is one of the 3 best beer options on Keto.
7. White Wine
Overall, white wines have fewer calories and a lower alcohol content than red wines.
In fact, most white wines have 123 calories or less in a 5-ounce glass while red wines can have up to 165 calories in a 5-ounce serving. And there are some red wines with a higher alcohol content that can have up to 200 calories per serving.
Healthline considers white wines to be among the alcoholic beverages with the lowest calorie count. And the dryer, the better. Wines are considered dry if they have very little, if any sugar.
Gamay wine is one of the lowest in calories, with only 114 calories per 5-ounce glass.
8. Gin And Seltzer Water
While gin and tonic is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages and has been for years, it is also one of the regular drinks that is also low in calories.
A shot of gin has 100 calories, and 4 ounces of tonic add another 38 calories, so a gin and tonic is less than 140 calories.
But, by substituting seltzer for tonic, you have an alcoholic beverage that only adds 100 calories per drink to your daily caloric intake.
9. Rum and Diet Coke
Ahh, rum and coke! That takes me back a bit to my days as a bartender when many of my favorite customers always ordered rum and coke. And, I have to say, rum and coke is not too terribly high in calories, weighing in at only 172 calories, 1 shot (1.5 oz) of rum = 97 calories + 8 ounces of coke = 75 calories.
But, diet coke is now the favorite soft drink of many people, and substituting 8 ounces of diet coke for regular coke brings that glass of rum and diet coke down to a 98-calorie drink, since diet coke has less than 1 calorie.
10. Dry Champagne
If you are a champagne lover who is trying to reduce your caloric intake and maybe lose a few pounds in the process, the secret is to choose a champagne that is dry. A dry champagne is one that is low in sugar content, and the bottle will be labeled “Brut,” which is a French word meaning dry.
While enjoying an excessive amount of wine, champagne, or any type of alcoholic beverage would be harmful to your health, an article in The New York Post indicates that champagne contains fewer calories than wine or beer and that sparkling wine contains high levels of antioxidants. And because of the presence of those antioxidants, the article suggests that a glass or two a day can provide such health benefits as lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease.
Champagne is a sparkling white wine, but how does dry champagne measure up against regular champagne?
While regular champagne contains 120 or more calories for a 5-ounce serving, dry champagne contains between 90 and 100 calories, making the dry champagne a better choice for anyone watching their carbs and calories.
There is also good news for anyone following a low-carb diet. According to Healthline, since champagne is considered to be a low-carb drink, “if it fits into your daily carb allotment and you watch your serving size, it may be considered keto-friendly.”
Alcohol Calorie Chart
This chart compares the number of calories in a few of the lower-calorie alcoholic beverages:
|Type of Alcoholic Beverage||Approximate Calories|
|Vodka Soda With Lime||106|
|White Wine Spritzer, 5 oz||60|
|Low-Carb Sangria (w/Shiraz)||184|
|Low-Carb Sangria (w/Prosecco)||142|
|Gin and Seltzer Water||100|
|Rum and Diet Coke||98|
|Carona Hard Seltzer||90|
|Dos Equis Ranch Water Hard Seltzer||90|
|Jose Cuervo Playamar Hard Seltzer||90|
|Mike’s Hard Seltzer||100|
|Natural Light Hard Seltzer||133|
|White Claw Hard Seltzer||100|
|Le Petit Prince||75|
|Wine (5 oz)|
|White Wine||120 avg|
|Red Wine||125 avg|
|Champagne (Sparkling White Wine)||120 avg|
|Dry Champagne||90 – 100|
- *According to Healthline, these are among the 50 best low-calorie beers.
- **Gluten Free
Best Ingredients For Low-Calorie Drinks
Here are a few substitutions to make so that you can have an alcoholic beverage when your diet doesn’t allow those high-calorie drinks you normally enjoy.
- Make your own drinks instead of using premade mixers that are high in carbs and calories.
- Substitute diet sodas for regular ones.
- Substitute sparkling water for your usual mixer.
- Try the brands of alcohol that are made with a lower percentage of alcohol. That lower percentage of alcohol also means lower calories.
- Add fresh fruit and fruit juice instead of simple syrup and other sweet mixers to make your drinks healthier, more refreshing, and lower in calories.
- Substitute healthier low-calorie sweeteners such as agave nectar and stevia for simple syrup.
For those who would like to reduce caloric intake to lose a few unwanted pounds or at least maintain their current weight, just cutting out desserts will help. Not eating sweets for a time has always allowed me to lose a few pounds rather quickly.
No matter what your reasons are for reducing the number of calories you consume from alcoholic beverages, the information in this article was designed to give you some tips on how to get started, whether you are looking for a completely different kind of drink or just to modify your favorite drink. Hopefully, those modifications will make your drinks healthier as well as less fattening.
Thanks for stoppin’ by!
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.