From backyard barbecues to picnics to the holiday party season, the second half of the year is when everyone wants to get together with loved ones, drink in hand. If you’re trying to stay healthy, boozy drinks can be bad news for your body. And that’s where healthy cocktails come in (or at least, healthier cocktails).

Why you Should Care

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Is there really any harm in imbibing every once in a while? Probably not — but everyone’s definition of “once in a while” is slightly different. For a lot of us, a glass of wine with dinner each day seems like a relaxing and harmless habit, but actually, even wine (which is generally considered a healthier booze option) can take its toll on your health.

Drinking creates a state of inflammation in the body, as it triggers excessive release of digestive enzymes produced in the pancreas. When you combine this with stress on the liver (which filters alcohol out of your blood stream, helping you to sober up), you run the risk of blood sugar issues.

Additionally, alcohol is a diuretic, which means drinking leads to dehydration. We all know the feeling of waking up in the morning with a terrible headache and tired-looking skin. These side effects are largely thanks to dehydration.

That’s not to mention the caloric toll alcohol can take on your body. One standard craft beer contains roughly 200 calories per bottle. Drink four beers in one evening, and you’ve suddenly consumed an extra 800 calories — for some people, a third of a day’s worth of calories — in one sitting. Wine has some health-promoting effects, but it still adds 120-150 calories per glass, while sugary drinks like frozen margaritas, though we LOVE them, weigh in at up to 600 calories per serving.

Healthier Alternatives

We’re not trying to depress you here. Obviously, having a drink or two with your friends or fam is good for the soul. But drinking without abandon is probably not a great idea if you’re concerned about your health. Here are a few ideas to help you seek out alternatives to your favorite bevvies.

  • Instead of a sugary cocktail, drink a sweet white wine, such as a Riesling, or mix your booze with a sweet, zero-calorie sparkling beverage.
  • Gin and sparkling water garnished with a lime make for a delicious and refreshing cocktail.
  • It’s easy to overdo wine, so if you’re planning to have more than a few, make a simple sangria by mixing your wine with rum and zero-calorie sparkling water and adding tons of healthy fruit.
  • As much as possible, reach for drinks that help you hydrate. Drinks with a sparkling water base are going to be *fantastic* for helping you stay hydrated.

Healthy Cocktail IDeas

Still stuck? Here are two of our favorite lightened-up cocktail recipes, both featuring zero-calorie Sparkling Ice.

Watermelon Ball Margarita

Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out watermelon balls, and then use a melon baller to scoop out the insides. Add one small scoop of watermelon to a shaker, and then a lime wedge and the Cointreau. Muddle together. Now add the tequila, juice from half of the lime, and ice. Top with the Strawberry Watermelon Sparking Ice, and pour into your homemade watermelon shooter.

Cucumber Gimlets

Peel the cucumber, cutting off the edges, and cut a slice on the bottom to make it flat. Use a melon baller to scoop out the insides. Add gin, a spritz of lime juice, and a teaspoon of cucumber insides to shaker, then ice. Shake and strain into a cucumber glass. Top it off with Sparkling Ice Lemon Lime.

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