7 Low-Carb Cocktails

Many cocktails can be made low-carb with a few simple substitutions. . (Photo: Dan Kosmayer/Shutterstock)

If you’re counting your carbs, do you pay attention to the carbohydrates in the cocktails you consume? Cocktails that are high in sugar from mixers or flavored spirits and liqueurs can be high in carbohydrates.

My Candy Apple Cocktail, with apple cider, simple syrup and caramel sauce, has almost 40 grams of carbs in it, according to My Fitness Pal’s recipe builder. My favorite gin gimlet has about 6 grams of carbs. Neither of these drinks would be considered low-carb cocktails.

What makes a cocktail low carb?

To create a low-carb cocktail, you need to cut back on the sugar dramatically. One way to do this for a simple cocktail like a gin gimlet is to create a stevia syrup and use it in place of simple syrup. One ounce of simple syrup has 12 grams of carbs. Stevia has no carbohydrates. Other mixers that add sugar, and therefore carbohydrates, to cocktails are juices, shrubs, sodas, bitters and tonic water made with sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

Basic distilled spirits like gin, tequila, vodka, rum and whiskey do not have carbohydrates, but liqueurs and fortified alcohols do contain sugar. The trick to making a low-carb cocktail is to use the no-carb spirits as the base and then add low-sugar or sugar-free mixers.

Low carb cocktail recipes

  1. Cucumber Gin Fizz: Replace the high carb tonic water in this drink with either a sugar-free tonic water that uses artificial sweetener for a no-carb version. For a lower-carb version, use an agave-based tonic water like Q-tonic that has 5.5 grams of carbs per 4 ounces compared to the 16.5 grams of carbs per 4 ounces in regular tonic.
  2. Watermelon Ginger Fizz: Use stevia syrup in place of simple syrup and a no-calorie ginger ale in this vodka cocktail to make it no-carb.
  3. Skinny No-Hangover Cocktail: This vodka, lime and club soda cocktail is carb-free naturally because it doesn’t add any sweeteners. No promises on the “no-hangover” part of it, though.
  4. Low-Carb Margarita: Orange extract is used instead of an orange liqueur and a small amount of no-calorie sweetener are used in this classic tequila drink.
  5. Skinny Ginger Mule: Diet ginger ale replaces ginger beer in this low-carb gin cocktail.
  6. Skinny Whiskey Sour: Sour mix is made from water and Lemonade Flavored Mio and added to naturally carb-free whiskey.
  7. Low Carb Mojito: Diet tonic water or ginger ale, plus the use of no-carb simple syrup, take most of the carbs out of this rum cocktail.

What's your favorite way to create a low-carb cocktail?