5 Yummy, Healthy Summer Cocktail Recipes (perfect for BBQ season)

Written by Cristina Powell

5 Healthy Summer Cocktail Recipes

If you like piña coladas… but without the weight gain. If you’re not much into health food…but like drinking champagne. If you’re not into yoga… but like sipping cocktails after gains. Then pay close attention to these summer cocktail recipes… they are completely off the chain.

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Disclaimer: We neither condemn nor condone moderate consumption of alcohol beverages. That said, there is evidence that moderate consumption of alcohol may be related to improvements in various biomarkers (e.g., markers of inflammation) and aspects of health (e.g., cardiovascular health, cognitive function, gut microbiota). Excessive alcohol consumption, on the other hand, has obvious, well-known detrimental effects on virtually every aspect of human health. And remember, never drink and drive.

Our Top 5 Summer Cocktail Recipes

Margarita

Margarita… doesn’t that just make your mouth water? While there’s debate about the origin of the margarita, there’s little debate that it is one of the most popular cocktails. Although the ratios are somewhat variable, the original margarita recipe includes 1 part tequila, ½ part orange liqueur (e.g., Cointreau), and ½ part fresh-squeezed lime juice.

Unfortunately, most present-day preparations are made with mixers and syrups that are very calorie- and sugar-dense. Our twist on this classic summer cocktail recipe involves tequila and fresh-squeezed lime and orange (to replace the orange liqueur) juices, and if you prefer your margarita a little sweeter, we suggest using just a little bit of agave syrup.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 ½ ounces tequila
  • ¾ ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ ounce fresh-squeezed lemon or orange juice
  • ½ Tbsp agave syrup, optional
  • Soda water

Directions:

  1. In a shaker filled with ice, combine tequila, lime juice, lemon/orange juice, and agave syrup.
  2. Strain into a margarita or rocks glass (salted rim optional) filled with ice, and add a splash of soda water if desired.
  3. Enjoy!

Mojito

The Mojito is a traditional Cuban drink, originating as early as the 16th century in Havana. The traditional summer cocktail recipe combines white rum, fresh lime juice, mint, sugar, and soda water to make this refreshing cocktail. We suggest replacing the sugar with a bit of honey, agave, or liquid Stevia, and we also recommend dialing back the amount of rum to one shot.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 ½ ounces light rum
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 tsp honey or agave syrup (or liquid Stevia to taste)
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves (about 10 – 12 leaves)
  • Soda water

Directions:

  1. In a Collins glass, muddle (i.e., mash on the bottom of the glass, which helps release the flavors) the mint leaves, the juice of the lime, and the honey or agave syrup.
  2. Add ice to your preference, and then add the rum and soda water.
  3. Garnish with a wedge or slice of lime.
  4. Enjoy!

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Piña Colada

The Piña Colada, the national drink of Puerto Rico since 1978, is a sweet cocktail combining rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice. The name Piña Colada means “strained pineapple,” which is a reference to how the drink was initially made (i.e., with fresh-pressed pineapple juice).

As you can imagine, the standard version can be both high in calories and sugar. Instead of pineapple juice, we suggest using fresh-cut pineapple, and you can also substitute a lighter coconut milk for the more calorie-dense coconut cream.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ½ cup ice
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup fresh pineapple chunks (no syrup, no added sugar, etc.)
  • 1 ½ ounces white rum

Directions:

  1. In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend until combined.
  2. Sit back and enjoy this delicious summer cocktail recipe!

Rum Punch

Have you been longing for a Caribbean vacation? When combined with a great imagination, this fruity, refreshing drink can help take you there. There are several variations of Rum Punch, most combining rum (some include dark, light, and coconut rums) and various fruit juices (e.g., orange, pineapple, etc.), and cherry grenadine. A more calorie-conscious, waistline-friendly version of Rum Punch may include a bit less rum and moderate amounts of fresh juices.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ½ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • ½ cup 100% pineapple juice (e.g., Lakewood®, Knudsen®)
  • 1 ½ ounces light rum

Directions:

  1. In a shaker filled with ice, combine orange juice, pineapple juice, and rum.
  2. Strain over a Highball or pint glass filled with ice, put on some shades, and bask in the sun.

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Salty Dog

The Salty Dog, named such because it’s a Greyhound drink with the addition of salt on the rim of the glass, is simply gin with grapefruit juice. Some people prefer substituting vodka for gin. For our favorite version of this summer cocktail recipe, We recommend using fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 ½ ounces gin (vodka can be substituted, if preferred)
  • 3 – 4 ounces of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 grapefruit wedge
  • Coarse salt

Directions:

  1. Pour coarse salt onto a plate. Moisten the rim of a Highball or rocks glass with the grapefruit wedge. 2. Gently dip the rim of the glass into the salt on the plate.
  2. Add the gin (or vodka) to the glass and then pour in the grapefruit juice. Stir to combine.
  3. Enjoy!

Traditionally, the Salty Dog is served “neat” (i.e., no ice), but if preferred, it can be served “on the rocks” (i.e., with ice).

Fun fact #1: Tequila is made from the heart of the agave plant. The heart is stripped of its leaves and then cooked to remove the sap, which is fermented and distilled.¹

Fun fact #2: Clear rums (or light rums) are aged at least one year to gain smoothness, then carbon filtered to remove the color gained from the barrels during the time spent aging.² Some folks would argue that darker varieties are superior in quality as they age for much longer in oak barrels, which add subtle flavors, extract color, and develop a smoother characteristic.

Fun fact #3: The most usual production method for gin is to distill botanicals, such as juniper, coriander, citrus peel, cinnamon, almond, or licorice, with neutral grain alcohol. Making gin is like flavoring vodka, except that botanicals are always natural.³ Who knew?

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References

  • http://www.ianchadwick.com/tequila/production.htm
  • http://www.robsrum.com/rum-101/
  • http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/08/23/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-gin/
  • Kathryn Stefaniak

    Happy Fourth of July, Coach Cristina! Your recipes will come in handy on the fourth. I’m expecting people around 1pm and will be serving your recipe for Margaritas and Pina Coladas. Should be interesting to taste some healthier versions of these two cocktails. Thanks so much! Hope you have a wonderful Fourth of July!

    • Cristina

      Hi Kathy. It is wonderful to hear from you. I am thrilled to hear that you used some of these recipes, and I can’t wait to hear how they turned out. I would also love to hear what else was on the menu at your gathering, and more importantly how you are doing?

      I hope you are finding the blog to be helpful, and if there are any topics you would like for us to cover, just let us know!

      • Kathryn Stefaniak

        Hi Coach Cristina! The Margaritas and Pina Colada’s were a hit at my cookout. I gave the recipes to a couple of friends who said they were going to try them at home. I loved them, they tasted better than what’s served at a bar. Thanks, again! My menu consisted of a healthy salad along with bbq’d chicken with grilled asparagus and baked sweet potatoes. My guests enjoyed the meal!

        I’m doing pretty good, thanks. I have been off and on with my diet and gained a bit of weight, but am now back on it and looking to lose quite a few pounds. I try to read your blogs daily to help get me back on track. I’ll get back to you about any topics I would like to hear about in the future.

        I’m off on vacation for a week to Newport, Rhode Island and plan to eat wisely-no unnecessary snacking! I’ll be doing a lot of walking on vacation and seeing the sights. Hope to lose a few unwanted pounds during then. I need this vacation very much and will be trying my hardest to just enjoying the scenery and exercise!

        Talk to you when I return. Have a great week, Coach Cristina!