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Calorie Count Blog

Summer Cocktail Calorie Countdown

By +Carolyn Richardson on Jun 30, 2012 10:00 AM in Healthy Eating

When you’re planning a summer extravaganza, lemonade alone won’t do. Unless you’ve got a child who’s looking to make a buck or two, you may want to add some zing to your drink options. Water is best, but even infused water won’t satisfy a penchant for cold sweet beverages that seem to get more intense during the summer heat. Here are the calorie breakdowns of the ingredients of familiar summer cocktails.

Wine, Spirits, and HCFS

Alcohol can add a kick to your summer drinks, but a small amount could rack up the calories. Just a 1.5 oz shot can add 100 calories to any drink. That goes for 80-proof gin, rum, or vodka. Tequila has a similar calorie count. Wine is a little more forgiving on the calorie count, at an average 120 calories in a 5 oz. serving. Grenadine originated from adding sugar to pomegranate juice, but a popular brand, Mott’s Rose’s Grenadine ingredients includes high fructose corn syrup, water, and food coloring with no fruit juice listed. Rose’s runs about 90 calories in a 2-tablespoon serving and while the calorie count will be similar, a recipe to make your own grenadine is available here. While the classic margarita includes lime juice, Triple Sec or Cointreau, and tequila, some margarita mix brands including Margaritaville, Jose Cuervo, and Mr. and Mrs. T, have no fruit juice and include high fructose corn syrup and cellulose as ingredients. Williams-Sonoma and Stirrings mixes both include juice but have high amounts of sweetener as well.

Fruit: Whole, Canned or Juice

While mojitos are known for using fresh fruit, if you don’t make your own, don’t be disappointed if your favorite premade mojito mix doesn’t list any fruit or juice. Other fruity cocktails have really high calorie counts. Drinks with fruit juice or cola can get past 300 calories. With 2 to 3 oz. of alcohol at around 200 calories and 8 oz. of juice or cola at 120 calories, more than a glass could turn into an unexpected splurge. A bellini calls for pureed fruit, but use fresh ripe peaches as opposed to the canned variety which comes in heavy syrup that can add more unnecessary calories. While it’s clear that drinking cocktails is not about nutritional value, it’s important to save calories where you can while preserving the taste.

Non-Alcoholic Strategies

Whether it’s a spritzer, cosmo, or bellini, you can add club soda and juice such as lime, lemon, orange, or cranberry juice to replace the alcohol in drink recipes. Make your own simple syrup with sugar or agave nectar and hot water to sweeten drinks or you may use an artificial sweetener like Splenda. You can also buy Monin or Torani brands’ sugar-free syrups which offer a number of flavors for beverages with no added calories.

Low-Calorie Summer Mocktails

Sangria Spritzer - 90 Calories per serving

Pineapple Melon Freeze - 74 Calories per serving

Triple Berry Sparklers - 32 Calories per serving

Strawberry Agua Fresca  - 69 Calories per serving

Your thoughts…

How do you modify drink recipes to save calories?


I fill half of my light red wine with berry seltzer water. Sort of a wine spritzer. It slows my alcohol consumption down when at parties but I don't feel like I'm missing out!

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