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Low-Alcohol Cocktails for a Healthy Buzz

Take It Down a Notch

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There are serious perks to swapping your regular drink for one with lower alcohol-by-volume (ABV). Alcohol can derail your fitness goals: Drinking too much can lead to muscle cramps, poor sleep, and extra calories—both from the alcohol and those drunk munchies, according to Sara Haas, R.D.N. and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

But that doesn't mean you have to skip happy hour—that's where drinks like these come in! Also called session, shim, or suppressor cocktails, these low-alcohol sips often include ingredients like port, sherry, vermouth, and liqueurs that are traditionally lower in alcohol than spirits, says Andy Seymour of Liquid Productions. (You could also give these beertails a try too!)

A strong stirred drink can have a total ABV of 22 to 25 percent by the time you add in other ingredients, says Seymour. Other drinks with strong spirits will come in anywhere from 16 to 18, and low-ABV cocktails have even less (for example, the First Wind cocktail below has about seven percent ABV).

"While there isn't a specific demarcation point, the idea is to keep the alcohol low so you can enjoy the cocktail over a longer period or try multiple drinks," says Seymour—meaning, you can drink a little more without the hangover or the health concern. We'll cheers to that!

Photo: Shutterstock

Tall Coconut Cocktail

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This Tall Coconut Cocktail has just two tablespoons of vodka (that's less than one shot of liquor) plus agave, blueberries, and coconut water for a tropical yet good-for-you treat. (Check out these Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Coconut Water.)

Photo: Supper In the Suburbs

Grapefruit Mimosa

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You don't have to save bubbly for brunch—whip up this easy Grapefruit Mimosa any time. (Then try these 3-Ingredient Bubbly Cocktail Hacks with the Champs that you have leftover.)

Photo: Damn Delicious

Dill & Snap Pea Shim

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If you only drink sake with sushi, you're seriously missing out. This Dill and Snap Pea Shim uses sake and St. Germain (a French elderflower liqueur that tastes like honey) to craft a refreshingly sweet and just-alcoholic-enough cocktail.

Photo: Holly and Flora

First Wind

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This cocktail is named First Wind after the port wine used inside—siroco is also a type of hot and humid southern wind.

Ingredients:

2 oz Fonseca Siroco
3/4 oz fresh cucumber juice
1/4 oz agave nectar
1 1/2 oz tonic water
Cilantro leaves

Directions:
1. Muddle cilantro leaves with agave nectar. Add cucumber juice and Fronseca Siroco and shake.
2. Strain in a Collins glass over ice. Top with tonic and garnish with a fresh stalk of cucumber.

Recipe courtesy of Andy Seymour of Liquid Productions.

Photo: Max Flatow Photography

Red Wine Berry Spritzer

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If you're looking for the ultimate healthy low-cal cocktail, this is it. This Red Wine Berry Spritzer is made of just red wine, carbonated water, some raspberries, and mint leaves. (Did you know that 2 Glasses of Wine Before Bed Helps You Lose Weight? Drink up!)

Photo: Jennifer Meyering

Peach and Basil Aperitif

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This Peach and Basil Aperitif will be the hit of any party, and is perfect sipped before a meal. It's made with Cocchi Americano (an Italian aperitif wine infused with herbs and spices), vermouth, pineapple gum syrup, and umeboshi vinegar (also known as ume plum vinegar). With this many flavors, but not too much alcohol, you'll want to sip these all night.

Photo: Craft and Cocktails

Strawberry Thyme Lillet Spritzer

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These Strawberry Thyme Lillet Spritzers look almost too pretty to drink—ha. All they have inside each glass is a little white wine, some bubbly, and a bit of fresh fruit and herbs, so you can sip until your heart's content without worrying about your diet.

Photo: What's Gaby Cooking

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