Skinny Sips for Summer

Five delicious low-calorie drinks for the season.


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The first day of summer has arrived, and that means barbecuing and bathing suits. It’s also the time to sip delicious, cold cocktails. While some mixed drinks are loaded with sugar that converts to fat, there’s less to blame on the alcohol in these drinks than what’s being mixed with them.

“Spirits can be a great choice for those who are watching their calorie intake but want to continue enjoying a cocktail from time to time,” says Monica Gourovitch, PhD, senior vice president for scientific affairs at Distilled Spirits Council in the United States. “A standard drink of spirits contains 97 calories, which is less than beer [150] and wine [120].”

Spirits have the lowest calories when served neat. But for those who prefer more creative cocktails, indulgence need not be forsaken.

“By experimenting with lower calorie fruit and herb ingredients and infusions, you can create fabulous cocktails that taste delicious and still fit into your overall diet plan,” says Gourovitch. 

Wine Enthusiast explores a few healthful ways to imbibe with the following cocktails crafted by New York City’s Royalton hotel.

The Alchemist (115 calories)

Courtesy Enid Cortes, Royalton hotel, New York City

Made with fresh ginger syrup, a root that’s purported to reduce bloating and aids in digestion, The Alchemist gets a bubbly kick from its Champagne topper.

1 ounce vodka (40% alcohol)
½ ounce ginger-infused simple syrup
½ ounce lime juice
1 ounce Champagne or sparkling wine (12% alcohol)
4 sage leaves, divided

Combine the vodka, simple syrup and lime juice with three crushed sage leaves. Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with the remaining sage leaf.

Gin Lantern (138 calories)

Courtesy Enid Cortes, Royalton hotel, New York City

Yuzu, the wonder fruit of Japan, not only has three times more vitamin C than lemon but also contains cell and fat burning properties. In the Gin Lantern, yuzu juice adds the perfect citrus complement to this clean, herbaceous concoction.

1¼ ounce London dry gin (40% alcohol)
¼ ounce Bénédictine or other aromatic herbal liqueur (40% alcohol)
½ ounce yuzu juice
½ ounce honey syrup (3 parts honey to 1 part water)
Splash of club soda
1 rosemary stalk

Combine the gin, Bénédictine, yuzu juice and honey syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and pour the contents into a frosted pilsner glass. Top the cocktail with club soda, and garnish with a rosemary stalk.

Agave Royale (139 calories)

Courtesy Royalton Hotel, New York City

Containing less than 140 calories, the spicy-sweet Agave Royale makes a peppy poolside cocktail for late spring.

5 blackberries, divided
1¼ ounce silver Tequila (40% alcohol)
¼ ounce Maraschino Liqueur (40% alcohol)
¾ ounce lemon juice
¾ ounce ginger syrup
1 piece candied ginger

Muddle three fresh blackberries in a cocktail shaker. Add the Tequila, liqueur, lemon juice and ginger syrup, and shake with one ice cube. Strain the mixture into a chilled rocks glass and top with crushed ice. Garnish with the remaining blackberries and candied ginger.

Two If By The Sea (139 calories)

Courtesy Joshua Brandenburg, Royalton hotel, New York City

Chai tea, rich in antioxidants and known for its anti-inflammatory properties makes a cameo in this drink’s homemade syrup, lending an earthy, cinnamon kick to this maritime-inspired libation.

2 blackberries
1½ ounce dark rum (40% alcohol)
¾ ounce chai tea syrup (equal parts dark chai tea and sugar)
¾ ounce lemon juice
Splash of Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-aged Bitters
1 cinnamon stick

Muddle two blackberries in a cocktail shaker. Combine the rum, tea syrup and lemon juice and bitters, and shake with ice. Pour the contents of the shaker into a rocks glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Ginger Julep (131 calories)

Courtesy Justin Delasko, Royalton hotel, New York City

A play on a Mint Julep, Derby Day classic, we love this spicy ginger-infused variation stirred well and served up.

1½ ounce Bourbon (40% alcohol)
3 mint leaves, divided
2 lemon wedges
2 ginger rounds (made by slicing the ginger root into 1/8-inch-thick rounds)
¾ ounce simple syrup

Muddle the ginger and lemon wedges in a cocktail shaker. Add the mint and lightly crush. Combine the Bourbon and simple syrup, and shake with one ice cube. Strain the mixture over crushed ice into a julep mug and garnish with the remaining mint leaf.

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