7 Healthier Spins on Your Favorite Quarantine Cocktails
You don’t need to go a jam-packed bar to enjoy your favorite drink. Here’s how to remake popular cocktails at home for a healthier — and safer — happy hour!
With social distancing still in full swing across the Canada, people are taking their happy hours online, hosting everything from virtual trivia nights to mixology classes to wine-tasting parties.
Fittingly, Google has seen a spike in cocktail searches in recent months and found that many of us are fixing ourselves Palomas, cosmos, and good-old-fashioned Old Fashioneds.
Want to try your hand at bartending? We’ve given seven popular cocktails a makeover, either by adding in nutritious ingredients or cutting back on sugar and alcohol, so you can drink (in moderation) to your health — safely at home.
Citrus soda is a key ingredient in a typical Paloma, a tequila-based cocktail, but freshly squeezed juice tastes even better. “For zero added sugar, I like to use a combo of plain sparking water and real, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice in place of soda,” says Ginger Hultin, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of ChampagneNutrition®. Because each serving contains the juice of an entire grapefruit, you’ll also get a healthy dose of immune-boosting vitamin C.
2: Aperol Spritz
An icy cold Aperol Spritz isn’t exactly the low-alcohol choice that people think it is, says Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of The Plant-Powered Dietitian Blog. Turns out, this traditional Italian cocktail — typically made with three ounces of prosecco and two ounces of Aperol — may contain as much booze as a standard glass of wine. And, like the Paloma, it gets its fizz from soda. To cut back on calories, Palmer recommends scaling back the Aperol slightly, swapping the soda with a couple ounces of sparkling mineral water, and serving over lots of ice.
Don’t let its tart flavor fool you. A typical margarita can easily contain an ounce of simple syrup, delivering 3½ teaspoons (tsp) of added sugar. And if you’re using a margarita mix? Make that nearly 6 tsp of added sugar per every 4 ounces of mix. (For the record, the American Heart Association tells women to limit their daily added sugar intake to 6 tsp; men should stop at 9 tsp.) “Instead of adding sugar-loaded simple syrup or using a margarita mix, my margarita is made with just tequila, fresh lime juice, ice, and Cointreau, which provides just enough sweetness,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, author of Smoothies & Juices: Prevention Healing Kitchen. “I also skip the salt rim, which cuts back on the sodium.”
4: Frozen Margarita
If you prefer your margarita frozen, be prepared for even more sugar. How much? A typical frozen margarita contains about as much sugar as a can of soda. The good news is there’s an easy way to cut sugar and add nutrition while you’re at it. “I’m a big fan of using fresh strawberries to offset the amount of added sugar you’d normally find in a frozen margarita,” says Saint Louis, Missouri-based nutritionist Alex Caspero, RD.
5: Old Fashioned
The typical Old Fashioned calls for just 2 ounces of alcohol — typically bourbon or rye whiskey — so it’s easy to knock back a few too many, a little too quickly. To pump up the volume and cut the added sugar, try topping your drink off with a half-cup of kombucha. “You’ll get a nice effervescence along with natural probiotics and antioxidants,” says Hultin.
Perhaps nothing says summer quite like a refreshing mojito, which is traditionally made with rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water, and mint. For a lighter take on a mojito with less added sugar, try blending in a cup of frozen pineapple, says Detroit-based nutritionist Amanda Hernandez, RD. An added bonus: Pineapple delivers 2 grams of fiber per cup.
If drinking makes you toss and turn all night, you’re not alone. Alcohol can negatively interfere with your REM sleep. This quarantine takes on a cosmopolitan (traditionally made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and lime juice) nixes the triple sec to help cut down on alcohol and replaces the cranberry juice with tart cherry juice. Tart cherries are one of the few foods that contain melatonin, a hormone that may improve sleep. In one small study, published in March 2018 in the American Journal of Therapeutics, people with insomnia who drank 2 cups of tart cherry juice a day for two weeks racked up nearly an extra hour-and-a-half of sleep a night. (Though we don’t recommend getting tart cherry juice from cosmos alone.)
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