How to Build a Healthier Summer Cocktail

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If you like to beat the heat with a refreshing alcoholic cocktail, you may be in for more calories than you realize. With sugary cocktail mixes and overflowing alcohol, you could be downing more than 450 calories a drink. Instead, use these simple tips to help build a better-for-you beverage.

The Booze

Whether it’s whiskey, vodka or rum, 80-proof liquor runs about 110 calories per 1 1/2 fluid ounces. In order not to overpour, use a jigger (or a measuring cup for alcohol). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 1 1/2 fluid ounces of 80-proof liqueur is considered one serving of alcohol. It’s recommended that, if you do drink, women should consume no more than one serving of alcohol per day; men should consume no more than two. Keep those fluid ounces from liqueur under control so you keep the calories in check and don’t surpass the USDA’s recommended guidelines.

The Mixers

Seltzer and unsweetened tea add minimal calories to your cocktail. If you choose to use juice, be sure it’s 100 percent vegetable or fruit juice. Nectars, like mango and peach, can also be used in place of or in conjunction with 100 percent juice. Like juice, nectars run about 60 calories per 4 fluid ounces. You can also add low-calorie flavor enhancers like fresh mint, muddled berries or ginger root.

To sweeten your cocktail, a splash of 100 percent fruit juice will do the trick. But you can also use a touch of simple syrup: an even ratio of sugar and water heated on the stovetop. Agave, a natural sweetener, tends to mix well in cold beverages, too, but just mind portions to about 1 teaspoon per drink.

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The Glass

The larger the glass, the greater the chance you’ll fill it with more calories. Use a smaller vessel for your cocktail. It’s the simplest way to keep portions under control.

Cocktails to Try:

Peach Cosmo

Cucumber Cocktail

Lemon Drop Cocktail

Frozen Mango Margarita

Peach Cobbler Cocktail

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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