Skip to main content

If you’re not ready for Dry January, give these 3 low-calorie cocktails a shake (or stir)

These low-calorie cocktails won't ruin your fitness goals

Cocktail outside
Vlad Tchompalov / Unsplash

Dry January isn’t for everyone. Perhaps your New Year’s resolution wasn’t to give up all alcohol for a month, but instead, to jump-start a year of healthy living. Maybe you’re going to join a gym (and hopefully actually continue going after this month), eat healthier (no more stops at Mickey D’s for fries), and drink healthier. Yes, that’s right. You don’t have to completely give up alcohol to live a healthier lifestyle in 2024.

Sure, alcohol itself isn’t great for your health and should be enjoyed in moderation. But the real carbohydrates and extra calories come from heavy beers and ridiculous, over-the-top indulgent ingredients in your favorite cocktails. Among the most caloric mixed drinks are the boozy Long Island iced tea, margarita, pina colada, white Russian, and Mai Tai.

Lucky for you, while you’re enjoying your booze in moderation, you can also still imbibe in a cocktail or two. There are ways to make your mixed drinks healthier. Below, you’ll find three of our favorite low-calorie cocktails. They are boozy, flavorful, and won’t destroy your healthy New Year’s resolutions.

Gin and tonic
Laure Noverraz / Unsplash

Gin and tonic

When it comes to simple, refreshing, low-calorie cocktails, it doesn’t get much better than the classic gin and tonic. This highball cocktail is simply made with gin and tonic water. You can add a squeeze of lime and a lime wedge for added flavor and garnish, but this flavorful drink is as easy and healthy as mixed drinks come.

While its origins are mysterious (like with many cocktails), many believe it has its origins with the British military in the 1800s. The English were using tonic water with quinine to ward off diseases, and it only made sense to add gin to make it more palatable.

What you’ll need to make the gin and tonic recipe

  • 2 ounces of London dry gin
  • 4 ounces of tonic water
  • 1 lime wedge for garnish

Gin and tonic recipe steps

  1. Fill a highball, balloon glass, or pint glass with ice
  2. Add the gin
  3. Top it with tonic water
  4. Add a squeeze of lime and drop in the wedge
  5. Gently stir and enjoy
Vodka soda
Mathias Tonnesson / Unsplash

Vodka soda

If you’re looking for a boozy, flavorful, low-calorie drink to celebrate a healthier 2024, look no further than the classic vodka soda. This simple drink is made with vodka and unflavored club soda. But if you’re feeling a little wacky, you can choose flavored soda water, seltzer, or sparkling water instead. Like with the G & T, this drink gets added flavor from a citrus squeeze. In this case, though, it’s lemon.

While it might seem like the vodka soda is a modern drink; its origins can be traced back to the late 1700s. This was when Schweppes first introduced soda water to the masses. They decided to mix it with alcohol. Why wouldn’t they? If vodka isn’t your thing, then simply switch to Scotch whisky, tequila, or your favorite spirit because the calories will be similar.

What you’ll need to make the vodka soda recipe

  • 2 ounces of vodka
  • Topper of club soda
  • 1 lemon wedge

Vodka soda recipe steps

  1. In a pint or Tom Collins glass, add ice
  2. Pour in the vodka and top it with soda water
  3. Squeeze a lime wedge and add it for garnish
Bloody Mary
Johann Trasch / Unsplash

Bloody Mary

You might look at a bright red-hued Bloody Mary and not instantly realize it’s a reasonably low-calorie, healthy drink. The base is vodka. The rest of this brunch staple is made up of a variety of ingredients based on who is making it. They include tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, horseradish, black pepper, and various herbs and spices. It can be spicier based on taste. It’s the best way to get our daily intake of vegetables, in our opinion.

Like with many drinks, its genesis is up for debate. Some believe this drink was created by a bartender named Fernand Petiot in 1934 at the King Cole Room in New York. Another story says that it was named for a bartender named (you guessed it) Mary at a bar called The Bucket of Blood in Chicago. Some also believe that the name comes from Queen Mary Tudor of England. Regardless of where and when the drink was created, it remains one of the most popular breakfast cocktails ever conceived.

What you’ll need to make the Bloody Mary recipe

  • 1.5 ounces of vodka
  • 3 ounces of tomato juice
  • 2-3 dashes of lemon juice
  • 1-2 dashes of hot sauce
  • 1-2 dashes of cracked black pepper
  • 1 celery stalk

Bloody Mary recipe steps

  1. In a pint glass, add ice
  2. Add the hot sauce, lemon juice, and cracked black pepper
  3. Add the vodka and tomato juice
  4. Stir gently and add a celery stalk
Clear cocktail
Johann Trasch / Unsplash

Advice on low-calorie cocktails

When mixing together “healthy” cocktails this January, remember that while you can add lower-calorie ingredients and not go over the top with garnishes, the real key is moderation. Make one or two nice flavorful cocktails and enjoy them.

Editors' Recommendations

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
Move over, espresso martini — This whiskey-based coffee cocktail is so much better
Espresso martini alternatives: Meet the revolver cocktail
Revolver

If you’re a fan of coffee-based cocktails, you probably get your caffeine fix from an Espresso Martini or a classic Irish Coffee. And while these drinks are all well and good, there’s another coffee-based cocktail you need to add to your boozy, energetic rotation. It’s called the Revolver, and instead of vodka or Irish whiskey, it gets its alcohol base from the use of good ‘ol American bourbon whiskey (or rye whiskey if you need a little extra, peppery spice in your life).

The simple, elegant, caffeinated cocktail is made with whiskey (bourbon or rye whiskey). Coffee liqueur, orange bitters, and, for a little flair, a flamed orange peel. Not only is it flavorful with a nice mixture of whiskey sweetness (or spice if you decide to go the rye whiskey route), citrus, and bold, robust coffee, but it’s also surprisingly easy to make.

Read more
7 fan-favorite budget whiskey bottles, ranked
7 budget whiskey bottles ranked
Whiskey

Whiskey is a great spirit to get into. Whether you’re buying to collect or to sip right now, you have your pick of Single malt Scotch whisky (only the U.S. and Ireland use the ‘e’ in whiskey), rye whiskey, bourbon, Japanese whisky, Irish whiskey, Canadian whisky, and whisk(e)ys from all corners of the globe. The best part? While there are tons of over-the-top, offensively expensive bottles, countless budget bottles are just waiting to be discovered.

Add to that, many well-known, fan-favorite budget whiskey bottles belong on your home bar cart or tucked away in your liquor cabinet — great sipping whiskeys, versatile mixing whiskeys, and everything in between. There’s something for every palate when it comes to budget bottles.

Read more
Why glasses made for bourbon actually matter
Here's why whiskey glasses matter
Snifter

If you’re just a casual bourbon drinker, you might pour your favorite whiskey into a rocks glass with some crushed ice and call it good. We’re not here to say that your technique is bad. Everyone enjoys their bourbon differently, and we aren’t the judgmental type. But a master distiller or seasoned whiskey taster might say that by drinking your bourbon like this, you’re not getting remotely as much out of it as you could.

If you enjoy sipping bourbon, you should probably invest in at least one whiskey glass. And we’re not talking about the same glass you use to sip your Old Fashioneds. We're talking about a glass that was specifically created to be used for tasting whisky. A great whiskey glass will enhance the aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel of your favorite bourbon. Wouldn’t you want to enjoy all the aromas and flavors your favorite expression has to offer?

Read more