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Entertaining
7 Low-Cal Holiday Cocktails That Won’t Ruin Your Diet

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Getting into the holiday spirit can be difficult when you’re trying to watch your caloric intake, as you spend most days declining sugar cookies and passing on Hot Buttered Rum. But you can still enjoy holiday cocktails without sabotaging your diet—you just need to drink smarter. While none of these cocktails have as few calories as some of our go-to low-cal sippers, they’re still far better for you than that marshmallow-topped hot chocolate. Grant yourself the leeway to add fun, festive touches without throwing all caution to the wind by mixing up these seven amazing low-calorie holiday drinks.

Matthew Kelly/Supercall

The basic Vodka Soda is the queen of low-cal cocktails, but it certainly won’t excite anybody as is. Give it some seasonal flair by adding a splash of homemade spiced cranberry syrup, made with orange juice, Grand Marnier, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, fresh cranberries and just a touch of sugar. Because the recipe calls for all-natural ingredients and only one ounce of the syrup, you can sip this sweeter Vodka Soda guilt-free.

The Essentials

Vodka
Spiced-Cranberry Syrup
Soda Water
Matthew Kelly/Supercall

The classic Hot Toddy—made with whiskey, hot water, lemon and honey—is one of the best low-cal cocktails to sip come winter, but you can make it even cozier by whipping up this Hot Chai Tea Toddy from London’s Gin Garden. The spicier variation swaps in chai tea, gin and some apple juice (ideally fresh pressed), along with fresh lemon and a spoonful of honey for natural sweetness.

The Essentials

Gin
Apple Juice
Chai Tea
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Give your Old Fashioned a breath of nippy air by turning it into a Snowball Old Fashioned, invented by Samuel Gauthier of New York’s annual Miracle on Ninth Street Christmas pop-up bar (which is expanding nationwide this year). In addition to the usual fixings of an Old Fashioned, Gauthier adds a touch of the digestif Becherovka. It creates a complex, herbal flavor and a cooling mouthfeel—like breathing out frost—without adding many more calories.

The Essentials

bourbon
becherovka
demerara syrup
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As the name would imply, this cocktail isn’t just low-cal. It’s downright healthy. Inspired by the traditional switchels of the 18th century, this cocktail relies on a heavy pour of apple cider vinegar, which kickstarts your metabolism (along with a host of other supposed health benefits). Made with bourbon, maple syrup and ginger beer, it won’t replace your green juice anytime soon, but it’s still a delicious, healthy cocktail that’s perfect for the cooler season.

The Essentials

Bourbon
Maple Syrup
Ginger Beer
Matthew Kelly/Supercall

For the health-minded, the best part about drinking absinthe is that its potent flavor and high ABV encourages slow sipping, so one cocktail ought to do the trick for the evening. This take on an Absinthe Frappe, from Aaron Polsky of L.A.’s Harvard & Stone, mixes the green fairy with aquavit, lime, apricot brandy and orange bitters. A holiday-appropriate star anise garnish gives the drink additional aromatics.

The Essentials

Absinthe
Lime Juice
Apricot Brandy
Matthew Kelly/Supercall

Horchata is by no means a conventional holiday beverage—you’re more likely to find us sipping it by the pool in summer—but it actually makes for a great alternative to creamy, calorie-rich Eggnog. Made with rice, water, cinnamon and agave, horchata is completely dairy-free with no heavy cream or eggs to weigh it down. Spike it with tequila to bring out the agave notes, or use rum to make the ultimate low-cal Eggnog dupe.

The Essentials

Tequila
Crushed ice or pebble ice
Supercall’s House Horchata
Matthew Kelly/Supercall

A full cup of sugary mulled red wine may not be the best idea for someone watching his or her waistline, but this lighter white version won’t spoil any of those healthy efforts. Created by Tim Harris of the Manhattan Cricket Club, the diet-friendly Christmas Pudding is actually a riff on a Martini, made with London Dry gin, orange bitters and mulled white wine in place of dry vermouth. The mulled wine uses orange, anise, cloves, raisins and a small amount of sugar, but you only need three-quarters of an ounce to holiday-fy your Martini without regret.

The Essentials

Gin
Mulled White Wine
Orange bitters

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