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Gulf & Main Magazine

Cocktails That Count - How to cut the calories and add the antioxidants this summer

Jun 20, 2015 08:06AM ● By Kevin

© Jenny DeMarco Photography

Festive cocktails are a much anticipated part of any summer soiree. But you know how there’s always that one guest who lingers too long? I’m talking about the sugar, the carbs that tasted so good going down but want to camp out around your belly—uninvited.

Summer favorites such as piña coladas and margaritas are calorie crushers, containing as much as a double cheeseburger and fries.

The good news is you can tend to your bikini body without skipping a sip of this season’s celebrations. It just takes some creativity.

Let’s start with some easy rules of thumb, like sticking to clear liquors, drinking a glass of water for each cocktail and becoming the bartender whenever you have the option; this way you can control the quality of ingredients.

Use freshly squeezed juices instead of bottled, and if your cocktail calls for sugar or simple syrup, make yours with honey: ½ tablespoon honey with ¾ tablespoon of warm water is a quick and dirty fix. Also, ginger and fresh herbs are good for your body while adding some zip to your beverage.

Vodka makes a great base; its smooth flavor plays nicely with most mixers. Brands may vary, but for general purposes a standard 1.5-ounce shot is about 100 calories. Skinnygirl Vodka comes in at 75 because of its lower alcohol content.

One of the most popular cocktails for calorie counters is a fresh, simple vodka and club soda with a squeeze of lime.

Cocktails 1Convenience is king during most summer celebrations and premade mixes are perfect—only most are loaded with junk. Bare Organic Mixers are made with real fruit concentrates, agave syrup and nothing artificial. At only 17 calories an ounce, the Pomegranate Cranberry Cosmo and Lemon Drop Mix will please your palate, as well as your calorie log.

Watermelon is a quintessential summer fruit, and you may well have had one infused with alcohol at a beach party or cookout. Instead of hauling a heavy fruit, pick up an eight-ounce bottle of WTRMLN WTR. The juice is cold pressed from real melons, full of antioxidants, electrolytes and hydration. At just seven calories per ounce this is one mixer to stock up on.

Flavored spirits offer another option of getting a hit of something sweet without the extra calories of added juices. Try Deep Eddy Vodka, distilled 10 times and infused with real fruit. Both the Ruby Red and Lemon flavors are great over ice but even better with a splash of club soda.

The new 1800 Coconut Tequila is tripled distilled, made from 100 percent blue agave tequila, then infused with fresh coconut water for a smooth taste. It is good chilled and on the rocks, or with fresh squeezed juice.

Beer lovers looking for a healthful alternative are stuck with the “light” versions, which are typically light on flavor too. The news is a little better for wine drinkers.

A five-ounce glass of wine, on average, holds some 20 calories more than a shot of vodka and contains resveratrol, which studies say is good for your heart. Try the Simi Sonoma County Rosé for a pleasing summer sipper. It’s also good on the environment as this California vineyard is green and sustainable.

Libation lovers raise your glass and fill it with these recipes. All include fresh, healthful ingredients and come in at under 200 calories. Cheers!

Coconut Crusher

Combine equal parts of 1800 Coconut Tequila and pineapple juice in a shaker, strain and serve over ice. 

Lemon Basil Martini

Muddle ¼ ounce of simple syrup and 2 basil leaves. Add 2 ounces of Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka, shake with ice and strain into a martini glass 

Fresca Rojo

Mix 1 ounce each of Deep Eddy Ruby Red and silver tequila, with 2 ounces of WTRMLN WTR. Shake with ice, strain into a glass of ice (rimmed with Chile salt) then top with a dash of Diet Sprite/Fresca. 

Ginger Queen

Pour equal amounts of Skinnygirl Cucumber Vodka and citrus soda into a glass of ice. Grate fresh ginger over the top, stir and garnish with a lime 

Bare Mojito

Muddle ¼ lime wedge with 2 sprigs of mint, 2 teaspoons of agave and a cucumber slice. Add ice and ½ cup each of Bare Organic Lemon Drop and Bare Organic Margarita Mixer, a shot of rum and a splash of club soda. 

Wine Spritzer

Mix 2 parts wine (sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio, preferably) to one part club soda, (ice is optional) and garnish with fruit. 

Sparkling WTRMLN WTR Rosé

Fill a champagne flute halfway with rosé Champagne, add ¼ ounce each of WTRMLN WTR and Campari, a splash of bitters and one drop of balsamic vinegar. 

Written by Gina Birch, a well-known Southwest Florida broadcast journalist and frequent contributor to TOTI Media. Read more of her musings at the