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4 Low-Calorie Alcoholic Drink Recipes That Won’t Ruin Your Diet

By March 16, 2021Recipes
Reading Time: 7 minutes
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We all know alcohol isn’t the best thing for us. But, it doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in a drink (or three) every now and then. The key is knowing which drinks are the best option in terms of fitting in with nutrition and fitness goals as well as your overall health.

Drinking too much alcohol can leave you feeling bloated, dried out, and hung over. It can also hinder your fat loss goals. However, the kind of alcoholic beverages you drink can reduce those side effects — or it could greatly increase them.

Put the Beer Bottle Down

Which alcohol is the worst choice you can make? Beer. Beer, everyone’s favorite, tops the list as the worst alcoholic beverage for you. The yeast, grains, gluten, and calories in beer make it a recipe for becoming bloated and inflamed. For each bottle you drink, you’re ingesting around 144-220 calories. Most of those calories come in the form of alcohol and carbs.

Alcohol is an “empty calorie,” which means its nutrient deficient and just a unit of energy for your body to use. The problem is when you drink beer, or sugary drinks, you’re ingesting not only the calories from alcohol, but also calories from the added carbs/sugars. Each drink is calorie-packed and nutrient-deficient – so those couple of beers could put a real stress on your waistline and your health.

Wine Isn’t So Great, Either

Wine isn’t as bad as beer – but it’s still not great. Red wine is your best option. It has more polyphenols (antioxidants) than white wine, and has been shown to have some positive effects on heart health when consumed in moderation.

The problem with wine is much the same as beer, the added calories. One five-ounce glass of wine contains around 125 calories, and in wine it comes in the form of sugars. Wine is made from grapes, grapes are fruit, and fruit contains natural sugars. Much like beer, your body now has to burn off the alcohol and carbs from the wine before it can burn off any fat you’re storing, making it tough on your waistline.

Wine is still better than beer, but it’s not the best.

Download these 9 Low-Cal Cocktail Recipes

The Best Choice You Can Make

The best form of alcohol, from a calorie perspective, are the classic spirits. We’re talking about tequila, rum, vodka, whiskey, and gin. One ounce of any of those classic spirits contains around 64 calories, most of which come from the alcohol content.

When you’re having more than one or two drinks, that calorie difference between spirits and wine or beer is huge. The problem with spirits is people tend to mix them with sugary fillers that boost the calories. Once you add juice, soda, bar mixes, and simple syrups, it makes the cocktail just as bad as beer or wine – if not worse.

But there’s no reason to start drinking your spirits on the rocks (unless you like them that way). You also don’t have to stick with boring old vodka waters. I’m going to outline a few fun recipes to open your mind to how you can drink low-cal while still enjoying yourself.

The NorCal Margarita

The NorCal Margarita is the classic paleo cocktail popularized by “Mr. Paleo” himself, Robb Wolf. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s refreshing and carries a nice kick. Unlike whiskey, bourbon, gin, or most vodka, tequila is not derived from grains. Tequila comes from agave plant, a cactus, making it technically “paleo.” While tequila may be considered paleo friendly, let’s not go overboard.

NorCal Margarita Low-Calorie Alcoholic Drink Recipes


  • 1 Lime
  • Tequila
  • Soda Water or Sparkling Mineral Water
  • Ice
  • 1 Tall Glass


  1. Fill your glass with ice
  2. Add 3 ounces of tequila
  3. Juice half of your lime into the glass
  4. Top with soda water
  5. Garnish with a lemon wedge

The Primal Daiquiri

The daiquiri is another traditional cocktail – a summertime favorite that is refreshing and sweet. This new take on the daiquiri removes the unwanted sugar, and it’s technically “primal” due to rum being made from the juice of sugar cane or sugar cane derivatives like molasses. (Note: while molasses is sugar, it falls into the same category as honey when it comes to sweeteners – use it sparingly.)

You may be thinking, “This recipe looks almost identical to the NorCal Margarita.” Well, you wouldn’t be wrong. With the exception of the rum replacing tequila, and the use of stevia, the NorCal Margarita and the Primal Daiquiri are essentially the same drink. However, the change in the base spirit and the addition of stevia makes all the difference in the world. If these things didn’t make a difference, then we wouldn’t have kamikazes, margaritas, daiquiris, and gimlets – all of which are the same drink but with a different base.

Primal Daiquiri Low-Calorie Alcoholic Drink Recipes


  • 1 Lime
  • White Rum
  • Soda Water or Sparkling Mineral Water
  • Stevia
  • Ice
  • 1 Old Fashioned Glass (Tumbler) or Tall Glass


  1. Fill your glass with ice
  2. Add 2 ounces of rum
  3. Juice half of the lime into the glass
  4. Add 2-3 drops of stevia
  5. Top with soda water
  6. Garnish with a lime wedge

The Smokey Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned, as you may have guessed from its name, is one of the oldest cocktails. It’s loved by many for its simplistic ingredients and complex flavor. This recipe is one I use to throw a unique twist on this timeless cocktail. Unlike a traditional Old Fashioned, which uses rye whiskey, this Old Fashioned uses a chai tea-infused bourbon, delivering a warm and sophisticated flavor.

Old Fashioned Low-Calorie Alcoholic Drink Recipes


  • 1 Orange
  • 1 Cherry
  • Bourbon
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Loose-Leaf Chai Tea
  • Stevia
  • Ice
  • 1 Old Fashioned Glass (Tumbler)
  • 1 Empty Decanter or Juice Jug
  • 1 Funnel
  • 1 Fine Wire Strainer
  • Soda Water (Optional)


  1. Place 2-3 tbsp of chai tea in your decanter or juice jug
  2. Pour your bottle of bourbon into the decanter/jug
  3. Let it sit for an hour or two
  4. Once the tea has had time to infuse into your bourbon, pour it through a strainer back into its original bottle by using a funnel to avoid spilling
  5. Cut a thin, very thin, slice of orange and place it in the bottom of your glass
  6. Muddle the orange slice with the end of a spoon, or with a cock tail muddle
  7. Fill your glass with ice
  8. Add 2-3 ounces of your chai tea-infused bourbon
  9. Add 2-3 drops of stevia
  10. You may now choose to top the old fashioned with soda water, or enjoy without soda water
  11. Top with 1 cherry

The Fire Cracker

This one, to the best of my knowledge, is one I created. It’s unique, refreshing, and will definitely give you the “pick me up” you’re looking for from a cocktail. It’s a fun take on an Irish coffee, with a slight Italian edge, and did I mention it’s cold and sparkling?

This may be a little off the wall for some people. But if you try it, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Beer drinkers will love the carbonation and foamy head. Coffee lovers should enjoy this cold and sparkling take on an alcoholic Americano. Irish whiskey lovers will enjoy, well, the whiskey!

Irish Coffee Low-Calorie Alcoholic Drink Recipes


  • 1 Shot of Fresh Espresso
  • Irish Whiskey
  • Sparkling Mineral Water
  • 1 Pint Glass
  • Ice
  • Stevia (Optional)


  1. Fill your pint glass just over half full with ice
  2. Pour 2 ounces of Irish whiskey into your glass
  3. Pour your 1 shot of fresh espresso into your glass
  4. Add 2-3 drops of stevia (optional, I enjoy it without)
  5. Top off with sparkling mineral water. While pouring the mineral water into the glass, hold it on a slight angle as you would when pouring a beer. Pour slowly and allow the drink to develop a nice foamy head.

Is It Happy Hour Yet?

There you have it! There’s no need to drink boring old vodka water in order to avoid the excessive calories, bloating, weight gain, and terrible side effects of beer and sugary drinks. The next time you’re throwing a party, heading to the bar, or enjoying a drink by the pool, you’ll be armed with a few tasty options that a far healthier than the alternative.

Now, grab your favorite glasses, cut up some limes, crack open your favorite rum, and wake up without feeling so bloated – and without going totally off the rails on your diet. Cheers!

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Timothy Bell
Timothy Bell is a fitness coach and writer from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Timothy has trained countless people using his unique minimalist approach to bodyweight training. Tim’s relaxed, no-nonsense, adaptable style of fitness allows his clients the ability to train anytime, anywhere, with little to no equipment needed. He prides himself on being able to deliver world-class training regardless of the location. Timothy firmly believes your training should be a part of your life, and not be your whole life.

Timothy’s goal is to help everyone he works with find a unique fitness and nutrition program that fits their lifestyle. He’s known for giving out tons of free advice, videos, and articles on his blog Timothy Bell Fitness.