American College of Nutrition Certified Nutrition Specialist | Author | Professor of Nutrition


Skinny Drinks

You’re sitting on the restaurant patio, enjoying the sunset with a group of friends and a round or two of drinks. Everyone is relaxed, the air is filled with the sounds of laughter, and you are laughing too. Until you realize that those two margaritas just cost you over 700 calories. The choco-tinis are over 400 calories apiece, and a Long Island Iced Tea can run over 700 calories a pop.

Yikes. Not skinny drinks at all.Red cocktail with splash and lime isolated on white

Can you still enjoy your evening out with friends without causing serious damage to your waistline?

Yes, and here’s how to do it.  

Wine, sparkling and regular, are about 100 calories for a typical restaurant portion. So a glass of sangria, a bellini, a mimosa, are all under 120 calories. Much better, yes?

Plain liquor plus soda, over ice, will set you back about 80-120 calories. Vodka or gin with soda, over ice, with lime, is refreshing and satisfying. Flavor-infused liquors are great too, just make sure they aren’t sweetened. As if I had to tell you to avoid the cotton-candy flavored vodka.

Here in Southern California, bartenders – some call themselves mixologists – are creating “skinny” versions of favorite cocktails, without the sugary syrups and creamy mixers. Very chic.

If your favorite bar isn’t into this trend, you can still order a skinnier cocktail. Tonic has 90 calories a serving, soda has zero. Skip any sugary syrups or creamy liqueurs. Voila, you are drinking skinny-style.

The liquor aisles are featuring Skinny drink mixes too. They are incredibly popular, although I can’t vouch for their taste.

Please remember, lower calories does not mean drink twice as much. The alcohol content is the same whether the drink is skinny or not. Safe limits for women are 1 drink a night and 3-5 drinks a week. For men its 1-2 drinks a night, 7-10 drinks a week. Have a glass of water along with your drink, and eat some food too. The sound of  laughter will be every bit as sweet, and you may even enjoy the morning after.

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