From frozen fruit to fresh herbs, there are so many fun ways to enjoy a flavored cocktail. Mix your own healthy version with these 5 must-have tips from nutrition Expert Emily Holdorf.

Delicious mixed drinks are a great way to celebrate special occasions. It seems like every bar or restaurant has new, featured cocktails that have all sorts of fun and funky ingredients in them.

However, many of a them can be filled with sugary syrups, drink mixes, and become high (and empty) calorie concoctions. Skip the bar and make your own craft cocktails at home so you’re in control of what goes in them!

Here are a 5 simple tips on making tasty cocktails with your health in mind:

1. Use this drink ratio when mixing.

Use a 1:1:3 ratio with alcohol to flavoring (100% juice) to seltzer/low calorie liquid.  Making sure you’re not adding more than 1 shot of alcohol to your mixed drinks will keep you from getting super dehydrated (which means no hangover!) or adding unnecessary calories.

When choosing your alcohol, don’t pay attention to the hype of lighter colored liquors being better for you than darker colors. A 1.5 oz shot of any 86-proof liquor is going to have 105 calories, regardless of color. But, keep in mind the higher the proof, the higher the calories.

2. Use 100% juice to add natural sugars and flavors to your drinks.

Make sure the label says it contains 100% real fruit juice to cut down on extra sugar. The number one juice to be wary of is cranberry. Most cranberry juices on the shelf are juice cocktails, which contain very little fruit juice in them.  

3. Choose unsweetened flavored seltzers instead of sodas.

These unsweetened seltzers still give you fizz, but less sugars and artificial flavorings than soda. Just be sure to check the label to make sure your seltzer is truly unsweetened.

4. Add whole fruits.

Add frozen berries, pomegranate arils, and other fun fruits to cool down your cocktails and have a nice snack to eat once you finish your drink. The fiber from the fruits will also help fill you up, so you’ll be less likely to drink more than you should.  

5. Use fresh herbs.

Fresh herbs are the perfect way to add flavor without any extra sugars or calories. Don’t limit your creativity when adding herbs – rosemary, thyme, basil, and lavender are just as delicious as the old standby, mint.

Some flavor combinations to try are:
  • Strawberry or watermelon + basil
  • Lime + mint
  • Citrus + lavender
  • Lemon + rosemary
  • Blackberry + rosemary
  • Lemon + honey + thyme
  • Cucumber + lime + basil

5. Make your own ‘simple syrup.’

Simple syrup at the bar is a 1:1 ratio of water and sugar boiled down. Make your own substitute by using 100% fruit juice and a little pure stevia, to add sweetness with way fewer calories and sugar. Check out this great flavored simple syrup substitute that you can customize with any flavor!

For more tasty and healthy drink ideas, make a visit here!

Emily Holdorf, RDN is a Scranton, PA-based private practice dietitian on a mission to empower others to live a healthier, happier life.  By emphasizing a non-diet approach to eating, Emily helps individuals form a better relationship with food by focusing on why there’s room for every food in moderation. Find out more about about Emily at EmPowered Nutrition.