Holiday Cocktails That Won’t Ruin Your Eating Plan

Sugar Free Cranberry Mimosa

There’s no doubt about it. Alcohol means trouble for those of us attempting to lose weight. Alcohol adversely affects our blood sugar, and in my opinion, sugar is the nemesis of weight loss. However, all hope is not lost for a happy holi-daze!  In this post, we’ll review the major types of alcohol, estimated calories and carbohydrates, mixes, tips and tricks for drinking on a healthy eating plan. To wrap things up, I’ve included a list of 10 holiday cocktails that will get you in the holiday spirit in no time!

Note: Different brands vary and the calories and carbs listed in this post should used as estimates only.

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Wine and Champagne

Many people think that white wine is naturally “lighter” than red. Depending on the particular type and brand of wine, this may or may not be true. In general, champagne and wine (both red and white) are good choices for maintaining your eating plan, though there are some differences in types of wine.

  • Champagne or Sparkling Wine (generic) 6 oz. – 100 calories, 2g carbs
  • Cabernet Sauvingon (generic) 5 oz. – 115 calories, 4g carbs
  • Pinot Noir (generic) 5 oz. – 125 calories, 3g carbs
  • Chardonnay (generic) 5 oz. – 95 calories, 3g carbs
  • Pinot Grigio (generic) 5 oz. – 120 calories, 3g carbs

Clear Liquors

The clear liquors generally have no added sugars or carbs. Stay away from flavored liquors which may have added flavorings containing sugar and carbs.

  • Vodka (generic) 1 oz. – 70 calories, zero carbs
  • Gin (generic) 1 oz. – 80 calories, zero carbs
  • Light Rum (generic) 1 oz. – 100 calories, zero carbs
  • Tequila (generic) 1 oz. – 90 calories, zero carbs

Dark Liquors

  • Dark rum (generic) 1 oz. – 75 calories, zero carbs
  • Spiced rum (generic) 1 oz. – 75 calories, zero carbs
  • Bourbon (generic) 1 oz. – 100 calories, zero carbs
  • Scotch (generic) 1 oz. – 100 calories, zero carbs
  • Cognac (generic) 1 oz. – 104 calories, zero carbs
  • Irish Whiskey (generic) 1 oz. – 70 calories, zero carbs

Liqueurs

Liqueurs are alcoholic beverages that are bottled with added sugar and flavors. They taste great and form the foundation for many fancy cocktails, but are usually off limits for folks who are watching their weight due to higher sugar content. I’ve tried to include some clever substitutes in this post. If you can’t live without liqueurs, you might want to consider making your own sugar free versions. Here are a few homemade sugar free liqueur options from some clever and talented bloggers online:

Mixes

One of the most important things to consider when planning holiday cocktails are the mixes which can make or break your calorie budget for the day.  Here are some tips for choosing mixes.

  • Choose sugar free sodas. My favorite brand is Zevia, which is sweetened with Stevia instead of sugar.
  • Mix your cocktail “martini style” which basically means shaken with ice, with only a splash of mix, strained into a chilled martini glass.
  • When choosing fruit juices, go with versions that have no added sugar or that utilize a sugar substitute such as Ocean Spray Diet Cranberry, 1 cup (5 calories, 2g carbs).
  • Regular Tonic is actually not a good option. It’s got quite a bit of sugar and should be avoided. Instead, try diet tonic.
  • Soda water such as Le Croix is a great zero calorie, zero carb option and it comes in many flavors. As an added bonus, a hangover is partially caused by dehydration, so adding soda water to your cocktails can help minimize the potential for this problem.
  • Here are some other commonly used mixes in a sugar free version:

Sweeteners

Several of the recipes below contain sugar or a sugar rimmed glass. Liquid Stevia drops come in flavors, which can be used as a replacement for sugary liqueur. Be careful though, too much Stevia can have a bitter flavor, so only use one or two drops in your cocktail. I use the brands I like in the recipes, but here are a few for you to choose from:

Extracts

Often, an extract can be substituted for a liqueur, to keep the cocktail low in sugar and carbs. For example, instead of Triple-sec which is an orange flavored liqueur, try adding a quarter ounce of Orange Extract.

10 Low-Carb Holiday Cocktail Recipes

Lemon Drop Martini
150 calories, zero carbs

Chill martini glasses in the freezer for 15 minutes. Add 1 oz. simple syrup to a saucer. Pour sugar substitute into another saucer. Once the glass is chilled, dip the rim of the glass into the simple syrup, and then into the sweeter to make a sugared rim. Pour vodka, simple syrup lemon juice and lemon extract over ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake hard for 2 full minutes. Strain into the glass.

Strawberry Daiquiri Martini
165 calories, 3g carbs

Chill martini glasses in the freezer for 15 minutes. Add 1 oz. simple syrup to a saucer. Pour sugar substitute into another saucer. Once the glass is chilled, dip the rim of the glass into the simple syrup, and then into the sweeter to make a sugared rim. Using a blender (I like the Nutri Bullet), add simple syrup, lemon juice, light rum and strawberries and pulse until smooth. Pour into the glass.

Cranberry Mimosa
100 calories, zero carbs

Chill champagne glasses in the freezer for 15 minutes. Pour champagne and top off with cranberry juice and orange extract. Float the cranberries in the top of the glass for a festive garnish.

Cosmopolitan Martini
140 calories, zero carbs

Chill martini glasses in the freezer for 15 minutes. Pour vodka, lime juice and cranberry juice over ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake hard for 2 full minutes. Strain into the glass. Float a lime wedge and a few fresh cranberries in the top of the glass for a pretty holiday garnish.

Classic Extra Dry Vodka Martini
225 calories, zero carbs

Chill martini glasses in the freezer for 15 minutes. Pour Vermouth into the glass, swill it around the glass, then pour it down the drain. Pour vodka and olive juice over ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake hard for 2 full minutes. Strain into the glass. Garnish with one or two Spanish Queen Olives.

Sidecar Martini
150 calories, 6g carbs

Chill martini glasses in the freezer for 15 minutes. Pour cognac, orange juice and simple syrup over ice into a cocktail shaker. Add lemon zest to the glass. Shake hard for 2 full minutes. Strain into the glass.

Champagne Margaritas
230 calories, zero carbs

Add 1 oz. simple syrup to a saucer. Pour Margarita salt into another saucer. Dip the rim of a Margarita glass into the simple syrup, and then into the salt to make a salted rim. Using a blender, add simple syrup, lime juice, champagne, tequila and orange extract and pulse until smooth. Pour into the glass. Garnish with slice of lime.

Spiced Chocolate Peppermint Martini
280 calories, zero carbs

Chill martini glasses in the freezer for 15 minutes. Place 10 sugar free peppermint candies into a Ziplock bag, push all the air out. Roll the bag of candy with a rolling pin until crushed well. Pour Crushed candy into another saucer. Once chilled, dip the rim of the glass into the simple syrup, and then into the candy to make a sugared rim. Pour rum, heavy cream and chocolate extract over ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake hard for 2 full minutes. Strain into the glass.

Irish Coffee
160 calories, 3g. carbs

Add coffee, sugar substitute and whisky to a glass coffee cup and stir gently. Top with Sugar Free Cool Whip and dust with cocoa power for garnish.  

Mulled Wine
250 calories, zero carbs

(Recipe makes 6 servings)

Add wine, sugar substitute and orange slices to a large saucepan. Add cloves, 3 cinnamon sticks (broken into pieces) and star anise to a large tea infuser and drop it into the saucepan. Bring the liquid in the saucepan to a low boil, drop the temperature and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add 1 oz. cognac to the bottom of each of 6 glass coffee cups. With a ladle, spoon liquid into the coffee cups, leaving the fruit and spices in the pan. Add 1 whole cinnamon stick to each cup for garnish.

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