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Healthy Holiday Cocktail Recipes

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No matter how disciplined you are, the holiday season is one of the epicurean temptations. Festive, cheerful tidings surrounded by family and good friends and the many treats shared around the table. Even the strongest among us feel the pull of the pies, the honey-glazed hams, the rich sauces, or the eggnog.

You may not escape the holiday season without a few extra calories (which you’ll burn shortly into the New Year). However, one area that you can control without depriving yourself is – surprisingly – the traditional holiday cocktail.

Today’s mixologists have crafted innovative concoctions for those watching their diet, their overall health, and even those who don’t drink alcohol at all.  Flavor with fewer calories, a stronger bite for a slower sip, healthy ingredients with a dash of cheer. Spirits and beers that make the disappointments of previous generations’ versions of “non-alcoholic” a distant memory.

Of course, these criteria knock eggnog right off the list. Made with eggs, cream, milk, and sugar, it’s loaded with low nutrition in terms of calories, fats, and extra sugars. If made with raw eggs, it might also carry a food-poisoning risk.

Red wine, on the other hand, has long been known for its heart-healthy properties when taken in moderation. Antioxidants called polyphenols protect the lining of cardiac blood vessels. A specific polyphenol called resveratrol comes from the skin of the grapes and studies show that it prevents damage to blood vessels, reduces LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and prevents blood clots. Conversely, the alcohol content itself (in moderation) is known to raise the HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

As for cocktails, the key is to opt for healthy choices such as soda water mixers, clear, high-proof spirits, and fresh fruits, herbs, honey, or agave. This helps avoid the cocktail's deadly "sugar trap".
If you’re hosting a party, here are some great recipes to give your bartender to keep your guests happy and healthy this holiday:

Alcoholic Cocktails

The Keto Mudslide

The proper presentation makes it look like a decadent chocolate milkshake. If you’re looking to keep your carb intake down, this is the concoction for you.

  • ½ cup ice
  • 2 scoops of chocolate keto shake powder
  • 1 tsp of sugar-free chocolate syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp heavy whipping cream
  • 0.75 oz vodka

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. The result is a slim 322 calories and 5 net carbs, versus the 450 calories and 50 grams of carbs in a classic mudslide.

The Keto Piña Colada

A piña colada will satisfy any holiday guest’s craving for a rich creamy cocktail that brings a reminder of poolside warmth to the chilly season. This is also a low-carb version of a traditionally high-carb drink.

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ tsp coconut extract
  • ½ cup of ice cubes
  • 2 scoops of vanilla keto powder
  • 0.75 oz. spiced rum (intensifies the vanilla and almond notes)

Combined in a blender and blended until smooth, this is also 322 calories and 5 grams of net carbs, versus 500 calories and 50 grams of carbs in a typical piña colada.

Thyme For Honey

A newer cocktail served in the finest New York bars, it’s a tangy mix with a lot of sweetness but not a lot of calories. 

  • 1.5 oz cask-finished bourbon
  • 0.5 oz lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz. honey syrup
  • 1 dash absinthe
  • 6 frozen concord grapes
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Soda water

Splash soda water over ice in a Collins glass, shake all the ingredients (except soda water) into an ice-filled shaker, strain in the glass, and add remaining soda water. Garnish with dark concord grapes and you have a tart, refreshing drink that’s a slim 90 calories.

Hard kombucha

Kombucha, the fermented tea that’s gained in popularity in the last few years, has multiple health benefits. It contains organic acids, minerals, and vitamins originating from amino acids, and polyphenols. Kombucha made from red and green tea are particularly rich in antioxidants.

Kombucha is also an adaptogen, a plant or herb-based derivative that has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to relieve stress, anxiety, boost the immune system and provide sounder sleep.

Though fermented, the resulting alcohol content of typical kombucha is so insignificant as to be classified as “non-alcoholic”. However, several manufacturers are now producing hard kombucha, with an alcohol content similar to hard seltzer or beer.

Non-Alcoholic Options

If you or your guests don’t drink alcohol at all, mixologists and brewers have developed a wide spectrum of choices for those used to saying “I’ll have a ginger ale” on special occasions.


Whether it’s an original concoction or a “virgin” take on a classic, hi-end bars and restaurants across the country serve mixed drinks that are as satisfying as any measured by proof.

Virgin Mimosa

Invented in the 1920s at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, the mimosa is typically Champagne and orange juice. The non-alcoholic version simply replaces Champagne with ginger ale, which is a near-perfect mimic of the original. Use only fresh-squeezed orange juice and ginger ales made from real ginger and no artificial sweeteners.

The Rose Fizz

Whiskey sour fans will enjoy this tangy mix:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • 0.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • Top with rose lemonade

Dry shake all the ingredients except lemonade, then add ice and shake until the texture is foamy, pour and top with rose lemonade.

Coconut Julep

Tart enough to serve at the Kentucky Derby with a dash of the tropics:

  • 4 cups coconut water 
  • 2 very thinly sliced cucumbers 
  • 0.5 oz. of lime juice 
  • 0.25 cup of sugar (optional, to taste) 
  • 0.25 cup of chopped mint leaves 

Combine coconut water, cucumbers, lime juice, sugar, and mint leaves. Let chill for 1-2 hours and serve as coolers.

Alcohol-Free Craft Beers

Far from the dreaded “near beers” of old, craft breweries intent on providing rich, flavorful beers and ales have succeeded in creating zero-percent alcohol draughts. Dry drinkers seeking the full-bodied flavors of the world’s best brews without now finally have their prayers answered.

Dark, creamy stouts, fruitful IPAs, amber ales and pale ales, lagers and pilsners are all now available at hi-end grocers and specialty beverage retailers.

Whether you are looking to unwind from the year with a cocktail that won’t add calories, raise a glass to your heart or simply avoid alcohol altogether, there is plenty to cheer about this holiday season.

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