Summer Cocktail Makeover

Summer Cocktail Makeover

By Joni Garcia, MS, RD Contributing Blogger

Ahhhh…it’s Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial kick off to summer!  If you’re like me, you love everything about the season – the sunshine, lighter clothes, frequent gatherings with friends and family—and of course the cocktails to help celebrate these relaxing days and nights.

Popular Summer Cocktails – What’s the Skinny?
There’s so much hype about how added sugar can cause weight gain—and it’s absolutely true!  Many cocktails contain two main ingredients – liquor and mixers usually containing sugar.  While they may taste fruity and delicious, these two ingredients can be heavy on the calories and your waistline.  Check out the calorie count for some popular summer cocktails:

  • Margarita: 250 calories*
  • Piña Colada: 375 calories
  • Long Island Iced Tea: 400 calories
  • Rum Punch: 300 calories
  • Mai Tai: 300 calories

*Approximate calories in one 6 fluid ounce drink. Calorie counts for the ingredients in each drink calculated from the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

Safer Swaps
You don’t have to forgo enjoying an adult beverage at your summer shindigs.  Try some of these lighter options at your next gathering:

  • On the rocks – There are so many new fruit and flavor infused liquors available (think mango tequila, strawberry vodka).  Try a 1.5 fluid ounce shot over ice with fresh lime or lemon juice for less than 150 calories.
  • Wine –A 5- fluid ounce glass contains about 120 calories and includes heart healthy antioxidants, making it a better-for-you choice.  If you’re looking to change things up, try a fresh wine based cocktail such as a bellini (a combo of ½ cup sparkling wine or champagne and about ¼ cup peach puree), wine spritzer (½ cup wine plus ¼ cup seltzer) or mimosa  (equal parts sparkling wine and orange juice )– all clocking in at right around 100 calories.


Still looking for that special concoction?  Make your own signature cocktail. Instead of sugar, experiment with fresh fruit as a sweetener (like berries or peaches), mixed with fresh herbs and spices for flavor (like mint or cinnamon).  Then round it out with sparkling water or club soda.  The toughest part will be to think of a clever name for your new bevvie.

Don’t forget – How much matters!
Choosing a lighter cocktail doesn’t give you the green light to drink as much as you want.  More drinks (or bigger drinks) = more calories (and a killer hangover).  Like all things, be mindful and drink in moderation.  Happy summer!

Tell Me: What’s your summer drink of choice?

1 Comment

Post A Comment