Tis' the Season to Have Cocktails: 8 Lower-Calorie Drinks to Enjoy

Saturday, December 18, 2010 • Chicago, IL 60657

Who doesn't like a good cocktail during the holidays? Sure, spending 3 days straight with your extended family might have something to do with it, but beside that, everyone likes to let loose at this time of year. And there are plenty of occasions to do so. From the office holiday party, to the lighting of the menorah, to the various "Eve" and "Morning" festivities, there's no shortage of celebrations in which to involve libations.


Unfortunately, most holiday cocktails tend to give the gifts of too much fat and too many calories. One cup of eggnog has 343 calories and 19 grams of fat (see this week's recipe below for a lighter version)! It's a meal in a cup, with a ton of added fat and sugar. Then, there are the hot chocolates, mulled ciders, and traditional grogs that chase away the winter chill but help hold on the pounds. And we can't forget about all of the themed mixed drinks that make every party a bit more fun, and our waistlines a bit more full. So how do we enjoy the fun of the holiday season without having to hide behind bulky sweaters till July? Here are 8 fun drink ideas that are lower in fat, calories, and sugar than their original versions.

Pumpkin Pie Martini

Yeah, I know. It's as good as it sounds. There are several pumpkin liqueurs on the market, which are convenient, but add a ton of calories. By using the actual squash, you get the flavor without the calories—and, believe it or not, a little fiber in your drink.

  • 6 oz. canned unsweetened pumpkin
  • 6 oz. vanilla-flavored vodka
  • 4 oz. fat-free condensed milk
  • 4 oz. unsweetened almond milk (or fat-free milk)
  • 4 Tbsp. pumpkin pie seasoning
  • Ice cubes
  • 6 crushed reduced-fat vanilla wafers

Place vodka and pumpkin in bowl, and stir until pumpkin has melted. Stir in condensed milk and almond milk. Add seasoning. Dip rim of glass in crushed vanilla wafers. Pour liquid over ice into glass and enjoy. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
CaloriesProteinFiberCarbsFat TotalSaturated Fat
1052 grams1 gram6 grams<1 gram<1 gram


GrogIt's rich history dates back 400 years, when it used to be rationed out to sailors at sea. The big babies wouldn't drink their scurvy-preventing dose of lemon juice straight, so the powers-that-be dressed it up with a little rum. Since the added ingredients only serve to make it that much tastier, it stands to reason that being "three sheets to the wind" was fairly common.

  • 2 lemons
  • 4 Tbsp. of sugar
  • 4 whole cloves
  • One whole orange peel
  • 4 oz. golden rum
  • 10 oz. water
  • 4 cinnamon sticks

In a pan, combine the juice from the lemons, and one of the lemon peels, with the sugar, cloves, orange peel, cinnamon sticks, and water. Let simmer for 15 minutes, and then slowly stir in rum. Pour though a fine strainer into mugs, and serve each mug with a cinnamon stick. Serves 4.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
CaloriesProteinFiberCarbsFat TotalSaturated Fat
118<1 gram<1 gram14 grams<1 gram<1 gram

Gingerbread Toddy

In cold weather, a hot drink can warm you up faster than a Snuggie® and an electric blanket. This hot toddy will get you warm, and make you think you are eating gingerbread cookies in the process. Yummy.

  • 1 oz. brandy
  • 1 oz. gingerbread liqueur
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 8 oz. hot water
  • Cinnamon stick (optional)

Pour ingredients into a preheated mug in the order listed. Serve garnished with a cinnamon stick to stir. Serves 1.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
CaloriesProteinFiberCarbsFat TotalSaturated Fat
155<1 gram<1 gram11 grams<1 gram<1 gram

Holiday Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolateYou can obviously buy no-sugar-added hot chocolate in packages, and do this the easy way. But you're no slacker. You can make homemade hot chocolate, which makes your house smell amazing, and impresses your friends and family.

  • 4 cups evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/2 cup baking chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar, or natural sugar substitute, like agave
  • 6 oz. Frangelico® liqueur

Combine evaporated milk, fat-free milk, chocolate, vanilla, and sugar in pan and heat over stove on low. Stir in Frangelico. Pour into mugs and serve with a small candy cane. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
CaloriesProteinFiberCarbsFat TotalSaturated Fat
34016 grams2 grams45 grams6 grams3 grams

Peppermint Martini

This is, perhaps, the simplest and tastiest low-calorie cocktail out there. Just three ingredients and a bit of candy cane. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

  • 9 oz. vanilla vodka
  • 9 oz. peppermint schnapps
  • 3 oz. fat-free condensed milk
  • Ice
  • Mini candy canes

Place all liquids in a martini shaker with ice. Shake and pour into glasses. Serve with a candy cane. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving; not counting the candy canes):
CaloriesProteinFiberCarbsFat TotalSaturated Fat
2321 gram<1 gram13 grams<1 gram<1 gram

Mulled Apple Cider

Apple ciderNothing makes a house smell more like Christmas than some mulled apple cider—except those overpriced candles that they constantly advertise on TV. And this tastes better, so take that, Glade®!

  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and sliced crosswise
  • A 2-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, cut into 6 slices
  • 4 oz. light brandy

In a large saucepan, combine cider, cinnamon stick, cloves, orange and ginger, and simmer the mixture for 20 minutes. Pour brandy into pan. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a heatproof pitcher, and serve the mulled cider warm. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
CaloriesProteinFiberCarbsFat TotalSaturated Fat
202<1 gram<1 gram37 grams<1 gram<1 gram

Blitzen's Bliss

Given Blitzen is the final reindeer in the lineup, he probably gets knocked around a fair bit by the sleigh over the course of Christmas Eve. But once he has circumvented the globe, he comes home, has a few of these, and it's all good. Not only does he feel better, but since they're just 130 calories apiece, he doesn't feel all bloated for his Christmas dinner the next day.

  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • Juice of two limes
  • 8 oz. vodka
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 12 ice cubes
  • 6 mini candy canes
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped mint

Place all liquids in shaker with ice. Shake and pour into individual glasses. Top with sprinkle of mint and candy cane. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving; not counting the candy canes):
CaloriesProteinFiberCarbsFat TotalSaturated Fat
130<1 gram<1 gram11 grams<1 gram<1 gram

Sangria for Santa

Santa really appreciates the cookies and milk. But after hundreds of years, he's over it. Want to be on the nice list next year? Then get a little naughty. Leave some sangria for Santa by the fireplace.

  • 10 green grapes, halved
  • 4 fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 peach, pitted and sliced
  • 1 bottle of white or red wine
  • 1-1/2 cups white grape juice
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 2 sprigs fresh mint

Fill a large glass pitcher halfway with ice; add fruit and wine. Add juice and brandy; stir gently. Stir in mint. Let sit in refrigerator for 2 hours before serving. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
CaloriesProteinFiberCarbsFat TotalSaturated Fat
1831 gram1 gram14 grams<1 gram<1 gram