If you spend a lot of time watching what you eat in order to maintain your waistline and your good health, consider taking cocktail hour just as seriously. Many of the summer's most popular drinks are loaded with sugar (think the piņa colada is a good beach drink? It packs about 600 calories) and artificial ingredients. Here are a handful of the season's favorite drinks, reinvented free of chemicals, low in sugar, and high in flavor.
Dark and Stormy
Few drinks combine spicy and sweet as beautifully as a dark and stormy, making most fans hesitant to tamper with its formula. But sugary ginger beer—just as high in calories as Pepsi—can be replaced by club soda and freshly juiced ginger, which bursts with flavor and offers a bevy of health benefits, like boosting your immune system and cooling inflammation throughout your body. Then sweeten the drink with coconut sugar (bigtreefarms.com), which is loaded with amino acids important for building muscle.
2 oz Gosling's Black Seal Dark Rum
½ oz Santa Cruz Organic Pure Lime Juice
1 tsp Big Tree Farms Coconut Palm Sugar
¼ oz freshly squeezed ginger juice
Combine all ingredients except club soda in a shaker and add ice. Shake briefly and strain into a collins glass over ice, top off with club soda, and stir. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Modern versions of this classic often replace natural fruit juices with grenadine and sour mix. Return to the drink's origins and you'll save big on calories and reap the health benefits of actual nutrients. Both the watermelon and the tomato juices have high concentrations of lycopene, a compound that boosts your skin's natural SPF, and beta-carotene, a nutrient that slows the aging of your skin, while the blackstrap molasses is a great source of magnesium, which fights stress.
1½ oz Farmer's BotanicalSmall Batch Organic Gin
1 oz Elite Naturel Organic Pure Watermelon Juice
¼ oz Santa Cruz Organic Pure Lime Juice
½ oz R.W. Knudsen Family Organic Tomato Juice
¼ oz Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Molasses
1 dash Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker and add ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a champagne flute. Garnish with an orange twist.
Cointreau, a syrupy orange liqueur, provides the instantly recognizable tang in a margarita, but just one ounce has the equivalent of half a tablespoon of sugar. It's often replaced with bottom-shelf triple sec, which is just as sugary and comes with a bunch of artificial ingredients like propylene glycol (a kind of antifreeze). Instead, sub it out with organic maple syrup—you'll need only a splash. Besides adding an earthy sweetness, it's also a great source of manganese, which will strengthen your immune system by supercharging your body's natural antioxidant systems.
2 oz Casa Noble Crystal Tequila (Organic)
¾ oz Santa Cruz Organic Pure Lime Juice
¼ oz Maple Valley Organic Maple Syrup
1 dash Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters
1 dash Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker and add ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Rum and "Coke"
We don't have to tell you that Coke is bad for you—and we hope that we don't have to add that no man should drink a rum and Diet Coke. Sidestep the soda dilemma altogether by using a low-sugar tonic water like Q Tonic, which has 60 percent fewer calories than Coke. A dash of Creole bitters provides a bite and flavor surprisingly similar to those of cola but with no added calories.
2 oz Crusoe Organic Silver Rum
2½ oz Q Tonic Water
1 dash Bitter Truth Creole Bitters
Pour rum over ice in a rocks glass. Fill to the top with tonic, add bitters, and stir.