How to make your favourite cocktails low calorie

Summer is finally upon us - which means an inevitable flow of drinks under the sunshine. We all know it’s easy to go overboard on the calories when it comes to cocktails (we’re looking at you happy hour), and sometimes – okay, most of the time – they don’t even register.

The calorie count in boozy beverages depends on a number of things: the volume, the proof of the alcohol and the ingredients used. So to keep our waistlines in check and our thirst quenched, we’ve rounded up six low-calorie versions of our fave cocktails…

Skinny Margarita

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A margarita cocktail clocks in at around 450 calories – let that sink in. Laced with sweet liqueur and sugar, you can create a much lighter version by going easy on the Cointreau and using fresh lime juice rather than sweetened versions. To cut back on the salt, use half the amount and grate a bit of lime skin to bulk it out when garnishing the rim of the glass.

Ingredients: 35ml Tequila, 10ml Cointreau, 35ml fresh lime juice, ice and a lime wedge to garnish  


1. Grate lime skin and mix in with salt, then dip your glass rim (dampened with water) into the mixture

2. Pour Tequila, Cointreau and lime juice into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously

3. Strain into glass and garnish with a wedge of lime

Slimmed-down Daiquiri

You’ll be relieved to know that there is a much healthier version of this 200-calories-a-pop thirst quencher. Usually made with an overly-sweetened puree, you can swap this out for real strawberries instead.

Ingredients: A handful of strawberries or sugar-free strawberry powdered drink mix, 50ml Rum, lime juice, crushed ice


1. Chill your glass in the fridge and set aside

2. Add all ingredients to crushed ice and blend until slushy

3. Pour mixture into glass

4. Garnish cocktail with a slice of lime and half a strawberry. Drink up!

Old Fashioned

Not as sweet as the usual suspects, this is one cocktail that is more forgiving in the calorie department, containing roughly 155 calories a glass. Whip up an Old Fashioned cocktail with agave syrup rather than granulated sugar. Known for its low glycemic index (basically your sugar levels won’t soar) it’s a healthier alternative to sugar and is just as sweet.

Ingredients: ½ tsp of agave syrup, 3 dashes of Angostura bitters, 1 tsp of water, 60ml Bourbon, orange peel


1. Add agave syrup, bitters and water into glass and stir until combined

2. Fill glass up with large ice cubes, add Bourbon and stir

3. Add orange peel to garnish

Long Island Iced Tea

Guys, let’s get one thing straight: there’s no actual tea in this. Nil. Zip. Nada. While it may contain shots of rum, gin, vodka, tequila, triple sec (phew!), the calories are mainly from the Coca-cola added, making it around 300 calories per serving. You can lower the sugar level of this bad boy by swapping the Coke for a Coke Zero, and holding the triple sec.

Ingredients: 15ml Rum, 15ml Gin, 15ml Vodka, 15ml Tequila, 10ml Triple sec, 30ml lemon juice, 1 can of Coke Zero and ice


1. Add rum, gin, tequila, vodka, triple sec, lemon juice in a shaker and shake vigorously

2. Pour over ice, top up with Coke Zero and serve

Skinny Mai Tai

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Normally around 300 calories per glass, keep the pounds off by substituting the triple sec with agave syrup, and make use of real orange and pineapple juice instead of mixers. You can even ditch some of the fruit juice to cut down sugar levels even more, then top up with extra ice if you feel like your drink is a little short.

Ingredients: 30ml Light Rum, 30ml Dark Rum, 1 ½ tsp  agave syrup, 15ml orange juice, 30ml pineapple juice, 10ml cranberry juice, 30ml Fresh lime juice, 1 cherry and ice


1. Fill shaker with ice cubes and add all the ingredients

2. Shake and strain into glass filled with ice

3. Garnish with slice of pineapple, lime or cherry

Piña Colada

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Unfortunately, if you like Pina Coladas, then you’ll be shocked to find out that they rank in the top five most calorific boozy beverages chart. Depending on ingredients, size and how they’re prepared they can range anywhere from 300-600 calories...per drink. The good news is you can make a lighter version with only three ingredients, and using a banana to add sweetness rather than syrup or sugar. Genius!

Ingredients: 100ml light coconut milk, 100ml pineapple juice, a banana or pineapple slices or cherry


1. Pour coconut milk in an ice tray and freeze

2. Combine all frozen coconut cubes, rum, pineapple juice and banana or pineapple slices. Blend until smooth

3. Pour into cocktail glass and garnish with pineapple slice or cherry

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