Somewhere between the dinner table and making the rounds on the friends-and-family party circuit, you’ll likely find yourself reaching for a few drinks this holiday season.
It could be to celebrate. It could be a social convention. It could be that you just need something to make Uncle Pete’s outdated life philosophies more palatable.
In the end, the result is the same: a drink. So, get ahead of the curve with five simple hacks to make those holiday drinks healthier.
Sure, you’re going to come face-to-face with plenty of egg nog this year. And probably a few drinks rimmed with peppermint pieces. Or laced with heavy cream. That doesn’t mean you have to drink them.
See that scotch going into everyone’s hot toddy? Or that bourbon spiking the egg nog? Both are great on their own, if you’re OK with sipping straight spirits. Otherwise, pour a reasonable dose of liquor into a tall glass, add a few ice cubes, top with sparkling water and drop in a lemon wedge. The result is a refreshing highball that’s about 3/4 water and — assuming a 1.5-ounce pour — only contains about 100 calories.
More often than not, that store-bought cranberry juice is loaded with sugar — and doesn’t contain all that much juice. Sweet and sour mix — the stuff you’ll find in chain restaurant margaritas and on grocery store shelves — is about the furthest thing there is from real lime. So back away from fake juices and opt for the real stuff.
Citrus fruits are low in calories, packed with vitamins and help to keep your immune system in check. All good things. Meanwhile, bottled sweet and sour is just fake sugar, preservatives and unnecessary calories masquerading as a cocktail ingredient. Winner: citrus.
A good gin and tonic can be a magical thing. But hiding in that tonic is about as much sugar as a regular soft drink. That’s where your old pal water comes in. Reach for your favorite sparkling water, and use it to top gin, vodka or whatever liquor you prefer. If you want to add more flavor, squeeze in a fresh lemon or lime. Drop in a couple cucumbers or herbs for even more of a kick.
And if you’re a LaCroix fan, its line of zero-calorie waters can add a festive touch to any cocktail.
Ever had Aperol? It’s an Italian, bittersweet, low-alcohol liqueur that’s delicious in a simple spritzer. Tried Lillet Blanc? It’s an easygoing French beverage that’s perfect served over ice with a twist of lemon. Both fall into the family of low-alcohol aperitifs — traditional before-dinner drinks meant to stimulate the appetite.
But the key here is that these drinks, and many others like it, contain much less alcohol than a typical cocktail. Which means you’re able to have a few drinks without falling out of your chair at the dinner table.
Cocktails have their place. And that place is usually in your hand while you’re having a good time. But if the above hacks aren’t available to you, wine probably is. Drinking a glass of Champagne will get you in the holiday spirit, while enjoying a glass of red wine by the fire is just about the most relaxing thing you can do during the holidays. Well, until the tryptophan kicks in.