16 Low-Calorie Cocktail Recipes to Make When You Want Something Light and Refreshing
It doesn't matter where you are — poolside, hanging out in a nice air-conditioned home, or chilling on the front porch — there's something exceptionally satisfying about an ice-cold ultrarefreshing cocktail in your hand on a sweltering summer day. The only downside is that throwing back a few drinks can start to add up, calorie-wise. Though we can't make all the calories disappear, we did our best to round up some truly tasty, low-calorie options for you to indulge in all summer long. Read ahead for the best low-calorie cocktail recipes and cheers to these de(light)ful drinks!
— Additional reporting by Lauren Harano
Grilled Grapefruit Margarita
If you've got the grill going anyway, you might as well indulge in this fresh and smoky cocktail put together by Riazul. The low sugar content and citrus juices make this a low-calorie option.
- 1-3/4 oz. Riazul silver tequila
- 0.5 oz. grapefruit juice
- 1 oz. lime juice
- 0.5 oz. agave
Directions: Combine all the ingredients, add ice, and shake in a cocktail shaker. Strain over fresh ice in a glass with a salted and sugared rim, and garnish with a grilled grapefruit.
Sonoma-Cutrer Rosé Spritz
It's not summer without a glass of Rosé, we say! To dress up this perfectly pink beverage, try this recipe from Sonoma-Cutrer. Rosé has roughly 120 calories per glass, and all the extra ingredients here amount to fewer than 15 calories.
- 4 oz. Sonoma-Cutrer Rosé of Pinot Noir, chilled
- 2 oz. club soda or sparkling water
- Squeeze of fresh lemon
- Garnish with fresh strawberry
Directions: Simply combine all the ingredients, and you're ready to go!
Raspberry Lime Mojito
This low-calorie, fruity twist on a classic mojito by Spindrift can be made as a punch or per drink.
- 0.5 oz. fresh lime juice
- Handful of fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1 tsp. superfine sugar
- 3 mint leaves (more for garnish)
- 2 oz. white rum
- Spindrift Raspberry Lime
Directions: Muddle the raspberries with fresh lime juice and sugar in your glass. Add mint leaves and mush them into the glass to release the minty goodness, then add crushed ice and rum. Top it off with a low-calorie soda, such as Spindrift's Raspberry Lime, and garnish with whole raspberries, a sprig of mint, and a lime wheel.
Thanks to the inclusion of Be Mixed cocktail mixer in this recipe, which has zero calories, the total calorie count for this gorgeous and tasty paloma is only 150.
- 4 oz. Be Mixed Margarita
- 1.5 oz. tequila
- 4 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
- 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
- 1 oz. chilled club soda
- Lime slices
- Grapefruit slice
Directions: Combine everything but the club soda in a shaker with ice. Mix well and pour over ice. Top it off with club soda, and add lime slices to garnish. You can also add a slice of grapefruit to the glass like they did here.
Cold Brew Mint Julep Recipe
The next time you need a dose of energy and a cooldown, fix yourself this cold brew mint julep, created by Toné Castillo for Chameleon.
- 2 oz. Balcones Rye
- 1 oz. Chameleon Cold-Brew Vanilla Coffee Concentrate
- 10 mint leaves
- 3/4 oz. simple syrup
Directions: Muddle 10 mint leaves with simple syrup in a shaker, then add rye and the Chameleon cold brew. Shake well, then pour over an ice-filled glass and garnish with a sprig of mint.
Believe it or not, the Umbrella cocktail — an invention by San Diego's Madison on Park bar — has fewer than 100 calories in it, and it's incredibly tasty!
- Half a cucumber
- 0.5 oz. simple syrup
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- 2 oz. Green Chile Vodka
Directions: Cut your cucumber into thin slices, and muddle three to five slices with your simple syrup in a shaker. Add lemon juice and vodka, shake well, then strain over ice into a beautiful glass. Garnish with three fanned cucumber slices.
Watermelon Basil Margarita
We're digging this refreshing watermelon spin on the margarita that Hello Fresh created! You can reduce or increase the sugar according to your sweetness preferences.
- 1.5 oz. tequila
- 1 oz. lime juice
- 1 oz. basil simple syrup (instructions below)
- 2 oz. watermelon juice
- Lime wedge, salt, and basil for garnish
Directions: Add tequila, lime juice, basil simple syrup, and watermelon juice in a shaker with ice and mix well. Strain into an ice-filled glass, and garnish with basil and lime. You can also salt the rim if you want. For the basil simple syrup, combine all three ingredients over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool and store for up to two weeks in the fridge.
Raspberry Peach Prosecco Punch
Peaches, Prosecco, and raspberries? It's like you're bottling Summer into a glass! You can thank Julie Hartigan, founder of Cooking w/Julie, for this 103-calorie cocktail. We recommend making enough of this punch to serve your whole crew!
- 1 bottle Prosecco
- 1 cup peach or mango juice
- 1 cup raspberry seltzer
- 6 dashes bitters
- Fresh or frozen raspberries for garnish
Directions: Combine all the ingredients together, and serve on the rocks. Garnish with raspberry.
Vodka & Lavender
Herb & Wood is nestled within San Diego's Little Italy district. If you're not located close enough for a visit, you can at least make its Vodka & Lavender cocktail at home!
- 1 spoon of Suntory Toki whiskey
- 0.5 oz. lavender-infused Cocchi Americano
- 1 oz. You and Yours vodka
- 1.5 oz. Gin Mare
Directions: Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, and mix well. Strain into a stemmed glass, and garnish with a citrus twist.
Spicy Skinny Margarita
There's nothing like a margarita, especially when it's got a kick to it. This spicy skinny margarita only calls for three ingredients, so you know it's about as light as can be.
- 1.5 oz. 21 Seeds Cucumber Jalapeño Tequila
- 1/4 oz. fresh lime juice
- 1/4 oz. simple syrup
Directions: Place all ingredients into shaker with 1 1/2 cups of ice. Shake 30 seconds and pour into a glass. Garnish with a lime and/or cucumber slices and serve.
Created by Bartender Tobin Shea at Redbird restaurant in LA, this elderflower-grapefruit paloma takes full advantage of seasonal ingredients, making it a drink that tastes exactly like something you'd be sipping during summer vacation. The fresh grapefruit juice makes it ultralight and ultrarefreshing.
- 1 1/2 ounces silver tequila, like Herradura Silver
- 1/4 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
- 1 1/2 ounces grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
- 2 ounces soda
- 1/2 ounce agave syrup
Directions: Fill a shaker with ice. Add all ingredients, except for soda. Close and shake well. Add soda and strain into Collins glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
LaCroix Pamplemousse Paloma
Since LaCroix has zero calories, it's no wonder this refreshing cocktail made the list! Made with just a handful of fresh ingredients, this delightful LaCroix paloma can be made in minutes.
- 5 oz. Pamplemousse LaCroix
- 2 oz. tequila
- 1 oz. fresh lime juice
- 1 oz. Grand Marnier (or triple sec)
- Kosher salt
- Lime wedge (for serving)
Directions: Prepare the glass by rubbing the rim with a lime wedge. Fill a small plate with salt and dip the wet rim of the glass in the salt. Pour LaCroix into salt-rimmed glass. Combine tequila, lime juice, and Grand Marnier in a measuring glass or cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and stir or shake well to combine, about 20 seconds. Pour over salt-rimmed glass of LaCroix and garnish with lime wedge.
Take full advantage of summer's best produce offering when you whip up this low-calorie strawberry margarita. Made with fresh berries and a dash of tequila, this is really a dream come true.
- 1/2 of a pint of strawberries
- 1 cup tequila
- 1/2 cup orange liqueur
- 4 limes, juiced
Directions: In a blender, blend strawberries, tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. Fill a pitcher with ice and pour in the blended margarita. Stir well to ensure that the mixture is combined. Prepare the glasses by rubbing each rim with a lime wedge. Fill a small plate with salt and dip the wet rim of the glass in the salt. Divide margarita into the salted glasses, and garnish each glass with a strawberry and lime wedge. Enjoy immediately!
Cucumber-Mint Gin Cocktail
Shake up the traditional mojito by giving it a drool-worthy gin spin. Since gin only has 73 calories in an ounce, this cucumber-mint gin cocktail recipe is super light and super refreshing.
- 5 cucumber slices, divided
- 2 sprigs of mint
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
- 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 1/2 ounces gin, such as Beefeater 24
Directions: Add three slices of cucumber, the leaves from a sprig of mint, and the simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Muddle. Add the lime juice, gin, and ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Spank the remaining sprig of mint before garnishing the cocktail with it and the remaining two slices of cucumber.
Coconut Water Margarita
If you're looking for something hydrating and light that will give you a buzz, we recommend this coconut water margarita. The key is to naturally sweeten it with a fresh squeeze of orange juice!
- 1.5 oz of premium blanco tequila (Casamigos used here)
- 0.5 oz of Grand Marnier
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 orange wedge
- 1 splash of fresh coconut water
Directions: Take a lime wedge and use it rub the rim on the edge of a rocks-glass. Then, dip it into some freshly ground pink Himalayan salt. You won't need too much because the saltiness is a very strong flavor. Next, combine all remaining ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Once mixed, pour over fresh ice in your salted rocks-glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and enjoy!
The aviation, a classic Prohibition-era cocktail, consists of: gin, lemon juice, crème de violette, maraschino liqueur, and cherries (no, not the glowingly red sort) mingle into an elegant, lavender-hued beverage that you'll likely either love or hate; the only way to find out is to try it for yourself!
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 ounces maraschino liqueur
- 1/4 ounce crème de violette (optional)
- Maraschino cherry, for garnish
Directions: Add the gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until thoroughly chilled, strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.