It may sound like an oxymoron, but there is such a thing. Bartenders share low sugar/low ABV cocktail recipes and other advice for a healthy start to the year.

Andy Smith | January 2, 2017

Own it. In 2017, you’re probably not going to eliminate all carbs, master Crossfit, run a marathon or take a selfie of your new six-pack. But if you’re looking to cut sugar and calories out of your cocktails, we’ve got some fun, grown-up alcohol options that don’t involve Michelob Ultra, Rum & Tab or trolling the aisles at Costco for cases of Skinny Girl.

Bartenders from around the country were eager to share advice for ordering and mixing healthier drinks — from choosing the right traditional cocktails to their own innovative recipes that cut calories while cranking up the flavor.

One universal theme emerges — fresh ingredients are your best option and the majority of off-the-shelf mixers are a nutritional nightmare, especially if you’re cutting calories. “Most pre-bottled ‘just add booze’ cocktails are really, really, really, really overly sweet,” says Megan Splain, head bartender at Hourglass Tavern, 373 West 46th Street in Manhattan’s Theater District. “And I know it’s everywhere but bottled sour mix just isn’t right.”

Distract Yourself With Beauty


Cocktail personality Matthew Biancaniello makes beautiful drinks from fresh ingredients that are surprisingly low in calories. Most are actually nutritious. The author of Eat Your Drink and host of A&E’s upcoming Good Spirits spent several years at LA’s Library Bar at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, catering to the dietary requests of celebrities.

Travel for his A&E show took Mathew from Thailand to the Dominican Republic to Barcelona. In each location he created an original cocktail from locally sourced ingredients, including wild forest apples, various forms of fungus and even sea moss. Closer to home, he recommends cocktails featuring fresh pomegranate juice, which is relatively low in calories.

If you’re feeling ambitious at your next dinner party, try making his signature Stinging Nettle – which makes an impressive visual. The infusion takes a week; so plan in advance.

  • 2 oz/60 ml Stinging Nettle infused Novo Fogo or Avuà Silver Cachaça
  • 3/4 oz/22 ml Agave syrup (1:1 ratio of agave to water)
  • 3/4 oz/22 ml Lime juice
  • 1 oz/30 ml Fresh Pomegranate Juice
  • Pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)
  • Sprig of fresh stinging nettle for garnish (optional)

For the infusion, take 1 pound (453 grams) of stinging nettle and place in an air- tight container with one bottle of the cachaça for 5-7 days.

Place all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into chilled coupe glass. Garnish if using.

Biancanciello adds, “Stinging nettle is a superfood with more protein than kale.”

Healthy Drinking Tips for the New Year
Alcohol Professor, January 2, 2017