Helpful info for a healthier lifestyle
Low Calorie Cocktails

Control the Calorie Counts of Your Favorite Cocktails

Have you tallied the calories from your favorite homemade cocktails? The average mixer in a cocktail adds about 100 to 200+ calories per serving.

If you’re trying to limit calories, particularly from cocktails, I’ve got good news. But, before I whet your whistle with recipes for lower calorie cocktails made with the new SPLENDA ZERO Liquid Sweetener, let’s discuss the upsides and downsides of drinking alcohol, daily limits, and the calories in different types of mixed drinks and liquor.

Upsides, Downsides of Alcohol for Health

You may be surprised to learn there actually are a few health benefits of sipping moderate amounts of alcohol (moderate is defined below) spread out over several days and not consumed in large quantities at one sitting. These benefits occur because alcohol has a slight anti-inflammatory effect. This can cause the body to be a bit more sensitive to the insulin it makes in the pancreas. If one’s body is insulin resistant, this may improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose levels a bit. As an anti-inflammatory, alcohol may also cause a slight rise in the level of good cholesterol, high density lipoproteins (HDL).

But there are downsides of drinking alcohol. It can slow down physical and mental reaction time and impair good judgment. These are key reasons to not drink and drive. Pregnant women are advised not to drink alcohol. Alcohol can have serious adverse effects on the developing child. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that “Women who are pregnant or who might be pregnant should be aware that any level of alcohol use could harm their baby.” Women who are thinking of becoming pregnant, or who are breastfeeding, should consult with their healthcare provider about whether alcohol consumption is safe.

If you do not currently drink alcohol, don’t start just because of the possible health benefits associated with moderate intake. There are many other, more powerful actions to take to reach your health goals, such as being physically active.

Just How Much to Drink

If you choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation. This is defined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020 as up to one drink per day (see alcohol equivalents below) for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age. Excessive alcohol consumption includes binge drinking (4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men within about 2 hours).

What’s an Alcohol Equivalent

One drink is defined as one alcohol equivalent. For example, in a mixed drink, one alcohol equivalent is 1.5 fluid ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits, such as gin, rum, or whiskey. Five fluid ounces of wine with 12 percent alcohol, or 12 fluid ounces of beer with 5 percent alcohol, are considered one drink or alcohol equivalent. There are about 100 calories in each of these alcohol equivalents. Liqueurs usually have an alcohol content that is more than wine and less than beer but the calorie content can be higher because most liqueurs are syrupy (lots of sugar/sugar calories) and some also have added cream.

Oh Those Calories

If you choose to drink moderate amounts of alcohol, you’re advised to incorporate it into a healthy eating pattern and calorie level for you. This can be a challenge because alcohol can serve up a lot of calories with little to no other nutritional value.

Cocktails, which are often made with more than one type of liquor and mixers like daiquiris, pina coladas, or margaritas, can be particularly high in calories. If you use up a few hundred calories in a high calorie cocktail, you’ll be hard pressed to eat the nutrients you need while you stay within your daily calorie limit.

To the Good News

Here’s two pieces of good news. First, there’s a new form of SPLENDA®Sweetener in town, it’s SPLENDA ZERO Liquid Sweetener. It comes in a small, portable container. One squeeze provides the sweetness of one teaspoon of sugar. You simply squeeze in your preferred amount. SPLENDA ZERO contains zero carbohydrates, sugar and calories, regardless of how much you use. For cold drinks, including cocktails, it’s perfect, because it mixes quickly and easily.

And to the second bit of good news, the folks who make SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, including new SPLENDA ZERO Liquid Sweetener, have created some reduced calorie cocktail recipes just for you. Choose from a Long Island Iced Tea, with just 95 calories in 6 fluid ounces, a Nectarine Mojito with only 140 calories in 12 ounces, or a festive take on a Hurricane with 140 calories in 10 fluid ounces. All three recipes offer you a significant calorie savings compared to these drinks in their traditional forms and can even be made without the alcohol if you prefer!

Enjoy sipping fewer calories in your cocktails – and enjoying them in responsible moderation!

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, BC-ADM, is a nationally recognized dietitian and diabetes educator who applies more than 35 years of expertise as an author, freelance writer, media spokesperson, consultant and diabetes educator. Hope notes: “Healthy eating today is one tough job! The good news is that simple tweaks in your food choices and how you prepare foods can often set you on a path to healthier eating. Each positive step is a step in the right direction along the path to a long and healthy life.”


  1. Website: Calories for mojito and Long Island ice tea (Accessed June 27, 2016)
  2. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. Version Current: September 2015, slightly revised May 2016. Internet: (Accessed June 27, 2016)
  3. Evert A, Boucher J, et al. Nutrition therapy recommendations for the management of adults with diabetes. Diabetes Care: 2013;36(11):3821-3842.
  4. American Heart Association: Are there potential benefits in drinking wine or other alcoholic beverages? (Accessed June 27, 2016)
  5. Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). Appendix 9. Alcohol. (Accessed June 27, 2016)


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