Besides terrible boy decisions and all-nighters, drinking is the no. 3 vice of college students. Frat houses are overflowing with Keystone Light, every cocktail has a mixer more sugary than a Sour Patch Kid, and the Freshman 15 extends through senior year.
Despite its rockstar qualities, recreational drinking is by no means healthy. Yes, it makes grinding in four inch heels doable and three slices of drunk-pizza edible. However, all the extra sugar leads to bloating (RIP crop tops) and a killer hangover even Advil can’t cure.
Here are a few “healthy” mixers to transform your night from a regrettable mess to a classy outing worthy of a Trader Joe’s newsletter feature, all with low-cost, effective drinks that keep off the weight and social awkwardness.
1. Diet Tonic Water
Forget Snoop Dogg’s Gin and Juice, Gin and diet tonic is healthier, tastier, and the adult version of Sprite. Gin is usually associated with old ladies and slippers (remember CeCe from Gossip Girl?!), but with the right mixer, it becomes an effortless treat. Most people mix gin with regular tonic loaded with sugar, calories, and sodium. However, diet tonic has no calories, sugar, and minimal sodium (25 mg per 8 fluid ounces).
2. LaCroix Water
I’m the queen of sober LaCroix water-drinking; add alcohol to the equation and I become a flippin’ world dominator. Because of it’s sparkling nature, La Croix spruces up liquors/wines and turns them into bubbling gold. I tried this Red Wine Spritzer recipe and added Berry LaCroix water to red wine — it was sparkling grape juice with all the pep but none of the extra sugars or fats.
3. Sugar-Free Cranberry Juice
Often times, a drink becomes “healthier” just by adding the sugar-free or reduced-sugar versions of juices and sodas. A Vodka Cranberry (or a fancier Cosmopolitan) doesn’t have to rot your teeth with processes sugars. Instead, buy Ocean Spray 100% Juice. There’s no sugar added and a serving is equivalent to one serving of fruit. See, it’s like living in the produce aisle.
4. Fennel (Or Other Medicinal) Tea
Steeping tea in beer is the newest hipster fad, so do it for the Snapstory and your health. The variation of Tea Beer I tried was Stella Artois mixed with fennel tea from Germany (it can also be purchased on Amazon). The light, musty qualities of Stella complimented the earthy fennel tones perfectly — I felt like Bilbo Baggins in his Shire home. Fennel has a slew of health benefits including improving digestion, balancing hormones, and boosting immunity.
5. Coconut Water
My tongue despises coconut water on its own, but it’s also dangerously fond of girly cocktails and gin. I tried this Sparkling Strawberry Gin Cocktail and was surprised at how easy and flavorful it was. Gin, coconut water, fresh strawberries, and a splash of sparkling water, in total, around 230 calories (which isn’t bad for a mixed drink with fresh fruit). Coconut water is a great source of potassium, calcium, magnesium, and anti-oxidants.
6. Guinness Stout
Who knew Irish beers could be “healthy” mixers? Although I use that term loosely, Guinness has reputation for being a less trashy beer health-wise. At 125 calories per 12 oz pint and made with roasted barley malt (fiber and anti-oxidant benefits), this stout surpasses Corona and Miller any day.
Guinness can be mixed with champagne to make a Black Velvet or as a component of a White Russian. Don’t forget to shake the can to hear the whistle of a nitrogen widget.
7. Reduced Sugar Orange Juice
Colorful mixers automatically make a drink sexy, flirtatious, and delicious (it’s all the high fructose corn syrup and calories that dress it down). Screwdrivers, a combo of orange juice and vodka, is simple but deceiving— throwing in regular “orange juice” doesn’t make a drink healthy.
Eight ounces contains 25 grams of carbohydrates, 21 grams of sugar, and 110 calories. Slim it down with the sugar-free/light version and still flirt with the vitamins and minerals.
8. Aloe Vera and Honey
This isn’t for the Budweiser, regular rum punch-palates out there. Sophisticated and cool, these ingredients are anti-inflammatory and photogenic. Thank Pinterest for helping me find Aloe Vera Margaritas, drinks with honey, aloe vera, tequila, and salt. Honey is a natural sweetener without any of the processed goo – and it goes great with any light, summery cocktail.
You don’t need sugary sodas (@Jack and Coke) or from-the-can pineapple juice to bear the burn of Svedka or Jose Cuervo. Personally, I’m a “shots girl,” although ditching the calories and embracing the wincing face/raw throat isn’t exactly optimal either.
Like bralettes and waterproof mascara, healthy mixers will always be there for you — they won’t wreck your body AND they make drinking a little more tolerable, no kale or spinach juice needed. Bottoms up!