Are you ready for the summer yet? All the outdoor drinking, picnics, BBQs and garden parties! Yet at the same time, we are trying to work on our beach bodies. Not to worry, there’s ways to avoid extra calories when drinking without compromising the taste. Firstly, let’s recap the calorie count in most spirits and summery drinks:
|Pimms w/ lemonade (not premixed)||250ml||146–169|
|Premix Rum & Coke||375ml||248|
If the numbers get you confused let’s use a good old burger chart instead:
|THE GOOD||1 Drink =||or|
|THE BAD||1 Drink =||or|
|THE UGLY||1 Drink =||or|
Not too bad? Remember you are likely to consume more than one serving – especially on a big night out, the numbers can go up to six units – not sure you want to calculate in burgers at that point!
One of the main ways to avoid calories is to be careful to choose the right mixers for your spirits. Below you can find great ideas for mixers without compromising on taste – my advice is to avoid diet tonics and soft drinks as these will ruin the taste of the drink and add sweeteners on top of it. If you must use diet, choose natural mixers.
Low calorie alternatives
Tonic and soda
On a hot day it might be tempting to reach for the cold premixed G&Ts but, believe me, these are the ones you’d better avoid! One can has around 320 calories, equivalent of a cheese burger! You will not only consume 200 calories less but also get a better-tasting drink by making your own G&T.
To spice up your G&Ts, try Pinkster, raspberry gin, as this has 62 kcal on 25ml, the same as most gins but with extra flavour. Note that there are differences between tonics. If you know more about them you might be able to avoid a few more extra calories.
Fentimans offers a great range of mixers and other soft drinks that are all-natural and delicious when served with gin or vodka.
If you really are calorie counting you can replace tonic with soda and experiment with different variations of Tom Collins. In case you didn’t already know – there are NO calories in soda water. I recommend skipping the sugar syrup and muddling some fresh berries or fruit instead. This also works well with vodka and rum! Just crush the fruit with the spirit and top up with soda or sparkling water. Alternatively, you can make sugar syrup from honey.
There’s no better drink than Skinny Bitch (35ml vodka, lime and soda) when it comes to counting calories! Only 76 calories, yet still tastes refreshing with fresh lime. Remember lime cordial is very syrupy due to the sugars and will increase the calories! Make sure you ask for vodka, FRESH lime and soda rather than just vodka, lime and soda, as many bars still force the cordials.
Fancy something more creative? Try Bimber Distillery’s berry vodkas – same calorie count as plain vodka but a selection of flavours. All made with fresh berries and no artificial colours, you can choose from blackcurrant, cherry, summer fruit or blackberry. Mix with different-flavoured tonics (approx. 108 kcal) or try with Prosecco (can be as low as 132 kcal).
Silver Swift has released a range of premixed cocktails, which are all super low in calories and are of course made with natural ingredients. Try Vodka Ice Tea, Wild Rose Gin or Strawberry & Basil Vodka. Perfect served with plenty of ice and fresh garnish.
If you are fan of Screwdrivers, squeeze fresh orange juice instead of buying sugar-loaded juice from the supermarket.
Did you know there are no calories in tea?! Brew some Earl Grey or flavoured fruit tea such as peach or red berries, cool it down and mix with any white spirit, ice and garnish! Delicious!
50ml Red berries tea
35ml White rum (I used Ron Cubay)
15ml Fresh lemon juice
Make the tea and let it cool down. Muddle two strawberries with lemon juice in the glass part of Boston shaker, add mint and muddle some more. Add the rum and cooled down tea and shake. Strain and garnish with a strawberry and mint sprig.
50ml Pear and ginger tea
A slice of fresh pear
A spoonful of honey
Make the tea and let it cool down. Shake all the ingredients in a Boston shaker and strain into a martini glass. Use lavender carefully as it can be overpowering.
Coconut water is great way to rehydrate your body. As alcohol works the opposite way, you can use coconut water as a mixer to lower the damage alcohol does to your water levels. Coco Vita coconut waters are all natural and never from concentrate. They come in different flavours, which makes them even better mixers.
Pineapple, orange and peach & mango all only have 25 kcal in 100ml, lemonade flavour is 29 kcal, chocolate 30 kcal and plain coconut water just 18 kcal! There are a few other alternatives, but always make sure they are indeed natural without added sugars.
If you are new to coconut waters they are very subtle in flavour, so your drink won’t be overpowered by coconut flavour.
50ml gin (I used Malfy Gin)
15ml fresh lemon juice
Small piece of lemongrass
Coconut water (or try with Coco Vita Lemonade)
Open the lemon grass, then muddle with strawberries and lemon juice. Fill the glass with ice, add gin, and top up with coconut water.
35ml white rum (I used Ron Cubay)
5 lime wedges
Spoonful of brown sugar (optional)
Muddle the limes with brown sugar, add rum and ice, top up with coconut water. Or make it into a Mojito by adding mint – you can skip the sugar to make it less sweet.
50ml vodka (try Black Cow, it’s super smooth!)
Peach and Mango Coco Vita
Fresh lime juice
Fill glass with ice, add all ingredients and stir.
If you can’t be bothered with mixed drinks I would like to encourage everyone to get into sherry this summer! Sherries are great paired with food and also refreshing when served on their own, always chilled, of course. 50ml of dry sherry has only 58 kcal, and slightly sweeter ones 68 kcal. I would skip the syrupy-sweet sherries, such as Pedro Ximenez, as these are high on sugar. Read my previous articles on sherry for more details on how to serve and correctly store them to get the most out of your drink.
There’s no way we can spend the summer without drinking champagne, prosecco or other sparkling wines. Luckily, there’s only 80 to 120 calories in one 125ml glass. If you only fancy something fizzy, just add soda to your white wine to create white wine spritzer – this way you get more to drink and the same calories.
You can create simple Prosecco cocktails by adding fresh fruit juices or homemade syrups – just don’t over do it with the sugar.
There’re a few general rules to keep in mind when trying to drink “healthily”:
- Choose white spirits over dark ones as dark ones usually have more calories
- Try to stick to a single measure, 25–35ml a drink on spirits
- Choose soda or sparkling water over tonic when possible
- Flavoured spirits can be full of hidden sugars unless they are made with natural ingredients without flavourings and colourings
For more on calories, check Rethinking drinking – know your calories article.