(Almost) Guilt-Free!

Low-Calorie Summer Cocktails: Mixologists on Their Favorites (PHOTOS)

We challenged mixologists to come up with thirst-quenching—but waistline-friendly—recipes. See the results.

Andrew Kist; Elizabeth Leitzell (right)

Andrew Kist; Elizabeth Leitzell (right)

Summer is a-comin’, and like a boozy phantom limb, we can almost taste those slushy margaritas. But hold up, wait a minute: you will have to wear a bathing suit at some point this season, and if you care about that sort of thing, you should probably know that most of the drinks you’re craving also come with approximately one gazillion calories. So what’s a drinker to do? We challenged master New York City mixologists to come up with recipes that would quench our summer thirst but keep the calories down—think less than 200, give or take a few.  —By Brandy Zadrozny

Andrew Kist

The PAMA Parasol

This pomegranate liqueur cocktail from Orson Salicetti, mixologist behind New York bars Apotheke, Theater Bar, and the new Midtown lounge EVR (Ever), needs no sweetener at all. Total Calories: 150 

PAMA Parasol 

1 oz PAMA

1 oz Campari 

1/4 oz lime juice 

Splash club soda

1 Thyme sprig

Orange slice

Put first three ingredients into shaker and shake.

Strain into a high-ball glass with ice.

Top with club soda.

Garnish with orange slice and a sprig of thyme.

Milk & Honey

The Gin Cobbler

Theo Lieberman, head bartender at the speakeasy Milk & Honey, made us a Gin Cobbler, a recipe he pulled from classic mixologist Jerry Thomas’s 1862 recipe. Total Calories: 185

Gin Cobbler

2 oz gin 

1/2 oz sugar syrup 

1 strawberry 


2 wedges lime 

3 blackberries 

1 orange wedge 

Mix ingredients and serve over crushed ice. 

Shannon Sturgis/The Beagle

The Lifetime Ban

Dan Greenbaum, co-owner and bar manager of The Beagle in the East Village, suggests The Lifetime Ban, his own invention, which he calls: “super dry and refreshing with a crisp aromatic bite.”

The Lifetime Ban

1 oz Fino sherry

1 oz Dolin vermouth blanc

1 oz Perry’s Tot navy-strength gin

In a mixing glass bruise 3-4 leaves of mint with a lemon twist.

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe or cocktail glass.

Garnish with a floating mint leaf.

Jesse Untracht-Oakner

The Dorothy Ann

Del Pedro, longtime bartender and owner of Brooklyn’s new artisanal cocktail bar Tooker Alley, suggests The Dorothy Ann. The pink drink—colored by rosé wine, which everyone still seems to be drinking—is fruity, feminine, and sweetened with just a touch of honey, so it’s not cloyingly sweet. Pedro says it reminds him of his native Bermuda. And it’s named after the barman’s own mother, so you know it’s good. 

The Dorothy Ann

2 1/2 oz rosé wine (Tooker Alley likes Macari, from a vineyard on the North Fork of Long Island)

1/2 oz El Dorado 15-year-old rum

3/4 oz Schönauer apple liqueur

1/4 oz honey syrup (equal parts honey and water)

Stir over uncracked ice (so it doesn’t get watered down) and serve in a Champagne coupe. Float a rose petal on top.

Elizabeth Leitzell

The Seven Spice Sour

John deBary is bar manager of Momofuku Má Pêche, and his team brought us the Seven Spice Sour, a variation on the classic Daiquiri cocktail that uses Japanese Togarashi (or Seven Spice) infused into sake to support the sensation of “heat” that most drinkers would get from a cocktail made with spirits. DeBary says the Togarashi pairs with yuzu juice, from the Japanese citrus fruit, and lime juice for “a balance of acidity and spice.”

Seven Spice Sour

2 oz Togarashi-infused sake*

1/2 oz lime juice

3/4 oz simple syrup

1/4 oz yuzu juice

Mix together. Shake and strain.

**Togarash-infused sake

1.8 liter Akitabare Momofuku Honjozo Sake

25 g Togarashi

Infuse for five minutes (use a watch!), strain through cheesecloth.

Andrew Kist

The Skinny Sazerac

This diet cocktail was dreamed up by Orson Salicetti, Apotheke, Theater Bar, and EVR mixologist, who uses stevia instead of sugar to keep the calories at bay. Originally, as Salicetti tells us, Sazeracs were made with cognac. Years later they switched to rye whisky because the production of rye was cheaper. Total Calories: 132

The Skinny Sazerac

1 1/2 oz Louis Royer Force 53 

1/4 oz stevia water reduction 

3 dashes lavender bitters 

1/4 oz absinthe 

Lemon twist and a lavender leaf for the garnish.

(Stevia water reduction: 10 drops of liquid stevia added to 1 oz of water, or you can dissolve a quarter of the single stevia packet in 1 oz of water.)

Put all the ingredients together in a shaker and add ice.  

Stir for 20 seconds and strain into a rocks glass.  

Garnish with a lemon twist and a lavender leaf.

Andrew Kist

The Diet Daiquiri

This diet cocktail was dreamed up by Orson Salicetti, who favors stevia over sugar to reduce the calories. Total calories: 129



The Diet Daiquiri

2 oz Santa Teresa “1796” Solera rum

3/4 oz stevia water reduction

1/3 oz fresh lime juice

Lime twist for garnish



(Stevia water reduction: 10 drops of liquid stevia added to 1 oz of water, or you can dissolve a quarter of a stevia packet in 1 oz of water.)


Put all ingredients into a shaker and shake hard.

Strain into a martini or coupe glass. 

Garnish with a lime twist.

Jesse Untracht-Oakner

The New Ceremony

This seasonal cocktail is on the extensive menu at Dram, a cozy neighborhood bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Mixologist and head bartender Tonia Guffey’s go-to drink for summer—similar to an old-fashioned—is all booze, but the expert combination of spirits somehow keeps it light and sweet.


The New Ceremony

1 oz rye

1/2 oz Pamplemousse liquor

1/2 oz Byrhh

1/2 oz dry vermouth

1/4 oz Aperol

3 dashes orange bitters


Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice.

Strain into double rocks glass over one large ice cube.

Garnish with a grapefruit twist.