6 Ways to Make Your Cocktail Healthier, Because Nobody Wants to Give Up Happy Hour

Sometimes cocktails feel like the ultimate exception to otherwise nutrition-forward eating habits. Whether it’s happy hour with your coworkers or a best friend’s birthday, there seems to always be a time and place for a boozy drink. For those who are trying to eat as healthfully as possible, these cocktails can cause a problem — but who really wants to completely give up on happy hour?

Thankfully, you don’t have to toss your alcoholic beverages just yet, as there are tweaks that you can do to make your cocktails just a little bit healthier.

“When it comes to drinks, the two biggest health saboteurs are fat and sugar,” says Clinical Nutritionist Tara Coleman. “Many drinks are loaded with heavy creams or extra sugars to get that super sweet flavor.”

Picking the right cocktails or using the right ingredients can make cocktails better for you. You should never feel bad about indulging in your favorite drink. With the help of Coleman, we’ve gathered some tips to make your cocktail as guilt-free as possible.

by Carina Wolff

Avoid sugary mixers and syrups

“Most of the added calories in a mixed drink don’t come from the alcohol, but rather from the sugary mixers,” Coleman says. Try to avoid drinks that are made with mixers and sweet syrups, and instead go for drinks with fresh ingredients or natural sweeteners.

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Choose light over dark alcohol

Darker drinks have a higher amount of congeners, a toxic compound formed during the fermentation process. These compounds tend to worsen hangovers, so stick to clearer alcohols such as gin or vodka to keep from feeling terrible the next day.

Use seltzer water instead of soda

By using seltzer water, you’re avoiding the sugars and sodium that come with other types of soda. Seltzer water is simply regular water that has been carbonated, as opposed to club soda or tonic water, which often have added sugars, salt, or unnatural flavors.

Use real fruit juice

Using real fruit juice keeps your ingredients natural and provides that splash of sweetness without any extra added sugars. This way, you are also giving yourself an extra boost of vitamins and minerals. Make sure to opt for 100 percent fruit juice with no added sugar, Coleman says.

Stick to one shot per drink

Fewer shots = fewer calories. Drinking less alcohol per drink will help you control your limits and keep you from getting carried away with too many drinks. A typical shot contains around 100 calories, so pour sparingly.

Use a lot of ice

“Using a lot of ice helps control portions,” Coleman says. As the ice melts, it dilutes the alcohol, allowing you to enjoy the drink for a longer time.” Ice not only keeps your drink cold, but it keeps you hydrated as well.