New Year’s Eve is a celebration of endings and new beginnings. It can also be a time of indulgence and excess.
Popular cocktails can be huge calorie bombs, especially if they’re made with sugary mixes. According to Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN of Nutrition Starring You, a 5oz martini or margarita can include over 300 calories.
“By using sugar-free mixers instead of syrups and beverages with fewer calories per ounce, like champagne, you can enjoy some libations without breaking the calorie bank,” says Harris-Pincus.
We’ve put together a list of festive cocktails, both with and without alcohol, that are lower in sugar and calories without sacrificing flavor.
1. The Vegas Showgirl
This recipe comes from “The Thinking Girl's Guide to Drinking,” by nutritionist Ariane Resnick and bartender Brittini Rae. The Vegas Showgirl dresses up classic champagne without adding extra sugar and calories.
Ingredients (per serving, 1 cup):
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt, for garnish
- 1 tbsp. finely ground lemon zest, for garnish
- Peel of 1 entire lemon
- 5oz Champagne
- Prepare the garnish by mixing the kosher salt and lemon zest on a plate.
- Muddle the lemon peel in a cocktail shaker until it’s broken down into small pieces and smells very aromatic.
- If needed, add enough water to help with the muddling process.
- Add the champagne to the shaker with the muddled peels.
- Wet the rim of a champagne flute and dip it into the salt and zest mixture.
- Strain into the salt-rimmed flute.
2. Champagne with Pomegranate Seeds
Add some flavor, color, and vitamins to your toast with this simple drink modification from Nutrition Starring You.
- 4oz Champagne or sparkling white wine
- 1 tbsp. pomegranate seeds (arils)
- Place pomegranate seeds in to the glass and fill the rest with sparkling wine.
3. Antioxidant Sangria
Sangria is another popular drink that can rack up sugar and calories quickly. By the time you combine wine, liquor, sugar, and fruit, the total calorie count for one serving could reach over 300.
Stephanie Goodman, CNC and Jane Schwartz, RD, CLT of the Nourish Gurus came up with this healthier alternative, packed with antioxidants.
- 1 cup cranberries
- 1 apple (preferably organic), diced
- 1 orange, peeled
- ½ cup pomegranate juice
- 3 tbsp. raw honey
- 1½ cup seltzer or sparkling water
- 1 bottle Pinot Grigio (preferably organic)
- Place the cranberries and apples in a pitcher.
- Squeeze juice from the orange, cut the orange into pieces, and add to the pitcher.
- Add in the pomegranate juice and stir.
- In a separate glass or measuring cup, combine the honey with ½ cup of the wine.
- Add this mixture along with the remaining wine to the pitcher.
- Chill in the fridge and add the seltzer just before serving.
Even if you’re not a drinker, you probably still want sip on something a little special to ring in the New Year! But that doesn’t mean you have to start the year by loading up on sugar and calories.
One serving of sparkling cider, a popular alcohol-free option instead of Champagne, has about the same amount of sugar (over 30g) and calories (140) as drinking a 12oz regular Coke.
Not only do the recipes below have fewer calories and grams of sugar, they’re also made with fresh fruits, giving you the added benefit of extra nutrients.
4. Citrus Cherry Spritzer
This refreshing spritzer also comes from the Nourish Gurus. It’s low in calories and uses fresh citrus juices with no added, refined sugars.
Ingredients (8 servings):
- 2 cups tart cherry juice, unsweetened
- 2 fresh grapefruits
- ½ cup lime juice (about 5-6 fresh limes, depending on size)
- 3 cups seltzer
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
- Squeeze juice out of grapefruits into a pitcher.
- Add cherry juice, lime, and seltzer.
- Add in pomegranate arils if using.
- Optional: add in a few drops of stevia to sweeten further
Remember that the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is everything in moderation. Sticking to one or two drinks is ideal, but not always practical. Consider a goal of having a glass of water between every drink. If you happen to overdo it on a special occasion, don’t beat yourself up. Focus on restarting healthy habits the next day.