Can the words “cocktail” and “healthy” really ever go hand in hand? For many people cocktails are synonymous with indulgent ingredients such as sugar, cream, the richest fruits and of course alcohol! Alcohol isn’t exactly healthy even on its own…and of course it’s choc-full of calories. Many people don’t realise that a simple Manhattan contains almost 200 calories…that’s a lot if you’re settling down for an evening full of the tasty drinks so perhaps a traditional Manhattan is best indulged in almost in the same way as a dessert after dinner!
Other popular cocktails are just as potentially unhealthy…a Long Island Ice Tea contains more than 700 calories when made properly and the addition of cola as well as more than one spirit is probably largely to blame for the calorie counter on this lethal drink. But it’s not just the calories we’ve got to be aware of…the carbs in some cocktails are eye wateringly high when you consider that you’re not even getting a meal out of the moment of indulgence! Consider the Margarita…this Mexican cocktail has no less than 56 grams of carbs hidden within its citrusy depths…add to that the shocking 740 calories and you might as well drink a glass full of sugar and pasta!
When you get down to the nitty gritty, if you’re health conscious or watching your diet then you might want to broaden your horizons when it comes to cocktail consumption. Making your own is one way to ensure that your sugar and carb intake stays within a healthy range…it’s not difficult at all. You might need a few basic cocktail items and equipment to really get a professional finish to your cocktails but they’re inexpensive and besides that…it’s such fun!
You can impress your friends with your skills and these healthy cocktails not only taste great but they also look amazing…and looks are half of the pleasure when it comes to a gorgeous cocktail.
The science of cocktails
There is a simple formula to consider when making cocktails, a universal method of measuring ingredients that will usually result in a drink that tastes great. You need to include a certain ratio of parts to each drink…3 parts strong, 2 parts sour, and 1 part sweet. Strong is the alcohol included (obviously!), sour is predominantly going to be citrus and sweet can be fruit juice or sugar…we’re not including sugar in any of the cocktail recipes here…we’ve used honey before, and even cordial to sweeten things up.
In terms of which alcohol to use in cocktails when you’re trying to create healthier drinks, vodka and gin are less calorific than other choices and work well in a wide variety of recipes…but you can always ditch the alcohol completely or cut the measurements down and then adjust the accompanying ingredients accordingly.
Before you begin your cocktail making spree you will need to gather a few key ingredients and pieces of equipment which will make your foray into healthy cocktail creation a lot easier. You’ll need a shaker…shaking cocktails is a key part of the process for some concoctions but not for others. Shaking is to get the ingredients thoroughly mixed and agitated…it helps ingredients to bind together. Other cocktails are not shaken because they’re meant to be clear…martini’s are traditionally stirred to retain the crystal clear beauty.
Another piece of equipment, which is very helpful to have around when creating cocktails, is a rolling pin. This is for “muddling” fruit within the glass. Muddling is simple. It is the process of crushing fresh fruit to amplify the flavours and colours they contain. You will need to find yourself a rolling pin, a quality cocktail shaker, and large enough glasses to hold your drink. Other than that, you won’t need a lot else…apart from the ingredients of course!
Here’s a list of delectable and healthy cocktails for you to enjoy this summer…cool, bursting with fruit and flavour these are the cocktails which you can drink safe in the knowledge that at least some of the contents are doing you good!
Gin Mint Dash
This is a summery cocktail with the addition of mint to add a dash of sharpness to an otherwise sweet flavour. It includes gin and low calorie soda as well as a delectable selection of summer berries and a dash of blackcurrant cordial. It also includes fresh mint…excellent for digestion and also contains vitamins C and A as well as potassium and magnesium. The berries used are true super foods…so you can enjoy this drink with a clear conscience!
10mls blackcurrant cordial
Large handful mixed summer berries including strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
Splash of low calorie soda water
Sprig of fresh mint
Add the berries to a tall Collins glass and muddle with a heavy rolling pin until partially crushed. Add gin and stir; add crushed ice and a splash of soda water. Garnish with a strawberry and a sprig of fresh mint.
Vodka Citrus Rush
This is a sweet yet healthy cocktail thanks to the substitution of honey for the sugar which is often used in similar concoctions. The fresh lemon and lime are zesty and full of vitamin c whilst the low calorie soda gives it an extra fizz. If you’re really trying to cut those calories you can use less vodka than stated…it will make the drink more fruity but less calorific.
30mls freshly squeezed lemon and limejuice
Splash of low calorie soda water
2 or 3 tspn honey according to taste
3 or 4 lemon and lime wedges
Add the vodka, lemon and limejuice and wedges and honey to a cocktail shaker. Shake briskly to combine and then pour over crushed ice into a tall glass. Add a splash of low calorie soda water and garnish with lime or lemon slices.
Green Tea & Vodka Boost
This is a cocktail that can be considered a real pick-me-up thanks to its medicinal qualities! It’s just the thing to make when you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps or low in energy. The addition of green tea to the cocktail is a real booster for your immune system; add to that the presence of lemon and ginger and you’ve got a cocktail that’s delicious and amazingly healthy too!
200mls freshly made green tea
30mls freshly squeezed lemon
2 tsp. honey
Pinch of grated fresh ginger
Orange slice to garnish
Make up your green tea as normal with hot water; if you want your cocktail to have a bitter edge to it then make the infusion strong…if not, then keep it weak. Place the green tea in the freezer until very cold.
Pour the green tea into a chilled martini glass and add the vodka, the lemon juice and honey, then stir in the ginger. Serve with an orange or lemon slice. This is a great drink with or without the addition of vodka.
Ginger Forest Fruit Crush
This is an alcohol free cocktail which is full and bursting with goodness. Being able to choose your own fruits, which are in season, is what makes this cocktail standout. Blackberries work well alongside raspberries and blueberries or even crushed plums.
Handful of mixed seasonal berries and/ or soft fruits
Half a lime freshly squeezed
Small bunch fresh mint
Organic ginger beer
Muddle the fruit in a tall glass and then add a splash of chilled organic ginger beer. Add crushed ice on top of this and then the lime juice and mint. After this, pour in more ginger beer.
Garnish with a lemon wedge, or add a dash of fresh mint to really top it off.
Rum and Pineapple Splash
A dark and lovely drink which has the sweetness of pineapple to contrast with the strength of the rum and which with the addition of ginger, lime and honey is a drink which will not only chase away the blues but also any signs of a low immune system!
50mls dark rum
Low calorie soda water
2 or 3 tsp. honey
2 lime wedges
Quarter fresh pineapple slice chopped
Slice of ginger finely grated
Begin by muddling the lime wedges with the pineapple, honey and ginger in a tall glass. Pour in the rum and add ice and top with soda water. Stir well and serve with a slice of lemon or orange for garnish.
Healthy cocktails needn’t mean grim cocktails…a lack of cream or sugar doesn’t have to mean a lack of taste. There is a huge selection of alternatives for the more fattening or unhealthy ingredients; all it takes is a little experimentation and you can create your own versions of some of the more eye wateringly calorific cocktails and adjust them to your own tastes.
You can also adjust the measurements here to make a jug full of healthy cocktail to serve at parties and gatherings. Your friends will thank you for your efforts, as with the help of the healthy ingredients, these are cocktails which can really be indulged in!