WELL BEING: The Skinny on Cocktail Calories

By Chef Judi Gallagher.

Maybe it’s TVs Mad Men or the fact that vodka and gin makers are turning out fabulous fruit-infused liquor, but cocktail hour is back and you don’t have to be left out just because you’re dieting. And you don’t have to run four miles to burn off a mixed drink or two if you stock the bar with new, lighter sipping mixes that are minus the sugar (but not the flavor) of traditional happy hour.

It used to be that if you wanted to cut calories you had a wine spritzer. The soda water would cut back on the calories of the white wine. Then came light beer and of course, many of us remember Fresca and vodka with a double squeeze of lime, certainly not appealing when nibbling appetizers. Those dieting tricks are so passé.

Today, there are hundreds of Web sites that offer cocktail recipes and tips to keep the calories down, without leaving you feeling deprived. Consider the following:

  • A 4-ounce glass of Champagne is only 85 calories.
  • Fresh squeezed juice in a cocktail is lower in calories and certainly tastes better.
  • Avoid cocktails made with heavy syrups and canned juices. Try a sour apple martini made with 2 ½-ounces sour mix and ¾-ounces each vodka and sour apple liqueur for a refreshing 160-calorie treat.
  • Monin now sells sugar-free Triple Sec, a calorie-free gourmet syrup that will add zip to your Margarita. Blending your cocktail with plenty of ice will help you sip it slower so you are apt to consume less.
  • Diet cranberry juice is an often-requested option for the Cosmopolitan. In fact, many brides are requesting that caterers only use diet cranberry juice at their receptions.
  • Blend fresh watermelon, vodka and ice for a refreshing frozen cocktail but avoid those fancy frozen drinks in restaurants that pack a huge calorie punch.
  • Pass on those salty nuts at the bar. Have a healthy snack before you go
    out. Carbohydrate snacks make you crave more sugar and we all know that
    will bend the calorie counter.
  • Saving your cocktail calories for the weekend doesn’t help your waistline.
    Studies show that bingeing on the weekends actually adds belly fat, so slow
    down, sip a cocktail a few nights a week and follow with plenty of water.
  • Similar to a Cuba Libre, the Skinny Bitch is a popular cocktail on diet blogs
    using a high-end vodka, Diet Coke and a generous squeeze of fresh lime

Bikinitini Recipe (serves one)
(Marian Jansen op de Haar, Director of Wine, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar)


1.25 ounce Svedka Clementine Vodka
.25 ounce Lemon juice
1 ounce Soda
.75 ounce orange juice
1 packet Splenda

Shake all ingredients on ice (shake vigorously to dissolve all Splenda). Garnish — three miniature white marshmallows on skewer. Leave a space between the marshmallows (Tip: freeze the marshmallows so they are easier to skewer).

Scroll to Top