The ‘Healthy’ Drinker’s Guide to Low-Calorie Cocktails

So it’s a new year and a time when a lot of people decide they’re going to get in shape, especially after a month of face-stuffing in December. After all, it’s not too late to start that modeling career in the spring.

Aside from cutting back on the pastries and ordering the light mayo at Subway, there are other ways to reduce calories. A lot of people don’t think of the booze. That’s because alcohol bottles don’t list ingredients or health information like most other foods and drink. Not sure how or why they get through that loophole, but it makes it hard for consumers to know exactly how many calories they’re taking in.

There are three factors that determine how many calories are in your drink. Obviously the more mixers (syrups, juices, pops, etc.) and the size of your drinks are the most important. But what a lot of people don’t know is the amount of proof (alcohol content) of your drink is also a factor. 40% alcohol (80 proof) contains roughly 64 calories per ounce, while 50% alcohol (100 proof) contains about 82 calories per ounce.

Of course, the only other option would be to quit drinking completely. But what’s the fun in that?

Here’s our list of some low-calorie cocktails and drinks for when happy hour becomes far more important than keeping your resolution.

Gin and Tonic

This is an always-popular low calorie drink, as it is pretty much always available anywhere that serves alcohol. A single drink containing one ounce of gin mixed with three ounces of tonic will contain roughly 103 calories.

Vodka and Diet Lime

Not everyone likes the taste of diet pop, but when used a mixer to cut calories it’s not such a bad thing. A vodka and Diet Sprite or 7UP can come in at under 100 calories per glass depending on how much booze it contains.


The average four-ounce glass of champagne contains approximately 85 calories, which works out to be a nice alternative to a glass of wine or bottle of beer. A four-ounce glass of wine contains about 15 calories more, though the average size of a glass of wine tends to be five to six ounces.

Low Calorie Beer

The average 12 oz. domestic beer contains about 150 calories, so if you’re looking for good brews while cutting calories, go for a light beer. Lots of breweries have come out with low-alcohol beers in recent years including Budweiser Select 55 which contains 2.4% alcohol. For something with a bit more oomph, Sleeman Clear (4%) totals at 90 calories, Miller Lite (4%) has 96 calories, Coors Light (4.2%) contains 102 calories per bottle. There is also the misconception that darker beers contain more calories. That’s not always the case. A 12 oz. serving of Guinness, for example, contains only 125 calories.

White Wine

Generally speaking, red wines contain more calories than white wines. It may not always be the case, but as a rule of thumb try to choose zinfandels, Chardonnays or Chablis over red wine if the option is given to you.

Skinny Piña Colada

Generally speaking, this isn’t a low calorie drink compared to some of the other options provided. It is, however, a low calorie alternative to a traditional piña colada if you’re craving a tropical thirst-quencher to beat the heat. Mix two ounces of Bacardi Rock Coconut Rum, five ounces of coconut water with two ounces of pineapple juice, crushed ice and voila! You’ve got a 152-calorie drink that’s about 450 calories less than a real piña colada loaded with sugary syrup.

Pete Richards
Pete Richards

If Star Wars and Van Damme had a baby, it would be me.