12 Low-Alcohol Cocktails that Deliver a Healthy Buzz

low-alcohol low-abv strawberry spritzer cocktail

Don't let a happy hour wreck your healthy diet. These low-alcohol drinks taste just as good as their stronger counterparts.

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Take It Down a Notch

Take It Down a Notch

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 cocktails like these come in! Also called session, shim, or suppressor cocktails, these low-alcohol drinks 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!) "You can enjoy these low-alcohol blends with friends and still feel good enough to go to the gym the next morning," says Dan Oskey, a co-founder of Tattersall Distilling in Minneapolis, which makes all-natural craft spirits and liqueurs.

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. Cheers to that!

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Strawberry Thyme Lillet Spritzer

Strawberry Thyme Lillet Spritzer
What's Gaby Cooking

These Strawberry Thyme Lillet Spritzers from What's Gaby Cooking 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.

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The Arugula

arugula cocktail low-abv
Danny Kim

At Botanica in Los Angeles, co-owner Heather Sperling and her team create delicious cleansing cocktails with fresh fruits and vegetables. This low-alcohol drink—The Arugula—is like the cooler cousin of your typical morning green juice. Lemon juice and homemade Demerara syrup (a type of sugar) pair deliciously with your spirit pick—vodka or gin.

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The Shandy

the shandy low-alcohol low-abv cocktail
Danny Kim

This fruit-infused, low-alcohol drink (also courtesy of Botanica) is a mix of berries, grapefruit, and orange juice. Pick your produce: strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries will all work in The Shandy.

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Botanica Spritz

botanica spritz low abv cocktail with grapefruit
Danny Kim

In a nutshell, the Botanica Spritz is what the Caribbean tastes like. For a lighter (and almost nonalcoholic) option, you can replace the wine with sparkling water.

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Tall Coconut Cocktail

low-abv low-alcohol coconut cocktail
Supper In the Suburbs

This Tall Coconut Cocktail from Supper in the Suburbs 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. (

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Dill & Snap Pea Shim

low-alcohol cocktail Dill & Snap Pea Shim
Holly and Flora

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

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First Wind

First Wind
Max Flatow Photography

This low-alcohol drink is named First Wind after the port wine used inside—siroco is also a type of hot and humid southern wind. (

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

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.

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Red Wine Berry Spritzer

low alcohol cocktial berry spritzer
Jennifer Meyering

If you're looking for the ultimate low-cal, low-alcohol drink, this is it. This Red Wine Berry Spritzer by Jennifer Meyering is made of just red wine, carbonated water, some raspberries, and mint leaves.

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Peach and Basil Aperitif

low-alcohol Peach and Basil Aperitif
Craft and Cocktails

This Peach and Basil Aperitif by Craft & Cocktails will be the hit of any party and is perfect when 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 in one low-alcohol drink, you'll want to sip all night long.

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Mona Mia

Mona Mia
Caitlin Bensel

This citrus-studded low-alcohol drink is the perfect excuse to break out the champagne glasses after the holiday festivities have come to an end. Grapefruit, which is in season throughout the winter months, brings a tart punch to the bubbly cava.

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Caitlin Bensel

The Ribadeo is the low-alcohol drink that's sure to transport you back to the Gatsby era. When the juniper berries, vermouth, and white port all come together, your tastebuds will be singing. Oh, and don't forget the decorative rosemary sprig. (

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Caitlin Bensel

Think of the Low-Fashioned like the fruity, less overwhelming cousin of the Old Fashioned. And thanks to the apple brandy, the low-alcohol drink tastes like autumn in a cup. Cider donuts, anyone?

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