Finally, spring is here! As the days grow longer, warmer and (hopefully) sunnier, try these tips to make your summer drinks just a little healthier.
Drinking “healthy” isn’t always easy, but the bounty of fresh produce available in the spring and summer months will help you replace sugar-laden syrups and unnatural mixers with natural sugars and rich, fresh fruit flavor that balance your drink and lighten the caloric load.
For a refreshing twist on the traditional wine spritzer, reach for Lillet, a delicious wine-based aperitif. Overall, Lillet has fewer calories than the average wine and packs more punch at 34 percent ABV (68 proof). Available in blanc, rose and rouge, two ounces of this slightly sweet, faintly bitter aperitif will mix beautifully with just a little bit of ice and about four ounces of seltzer water to create a refreshingly sippable cocktail that’s perfect for a hot summer night. Garnish your spritzer with your choice of fresh fruits, like kiwi, ripe cherries or juicy plums, lightly macerated in Grand Marnier. You’ll add a little bit of sugar with the Grand Marnier, but the majority of the sweetness comes from the deliciously ripe fruit that really make the spritzer something special.
Margaritas are another summertime patio favorite that tend to have lots of hidden calories due to chemically enhanced mixes conveniently located next to your favorite tequila in the liquor store. Don’t be fooled by “skinny” margarita mixes, which usually swap calories from sugar for even more chemically altered and artificial ingredients! Make a change this summer and mix up your own margaritas with a little more effort and a huge flavor boost from fresh fruits and organic agave sweetener. For the perfect patio margarita, mix up one and half ounces of your favorite tequila, a half-ounce of Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, a half-ounce fresh lime juice, a quarter-ounce natural agave syrup and a quarter-cup of your favorite fruit, such as peaches or strawberries. If you like your margaritas on the rocks, muddle your fruit with the agave nectar, add the rest of your ingredients, give it a good shake and serve over ice. If you’re a fan of the blended margarita, throw all of your ingredients into a blender and give it a whirl with about one cup of ice.
Ramp up your mule game by swapping sugar-heavy ginger beers for house-made ginger syrup that will pack more genuine peppery flavor and significantly fewer calories. In your blender, combine eight ounces of fresh, chopped ginger, eight ounces of hot water and a few tablespoons of raw sugar. Blend until it’s very smooth, and strain through cheesecloth. For a fresh take on the Moscow Mule, try a Gin-Gin Mule. Start by muddling six sprigs of mint, a half-ounce fresh lime juice and one ounce of your fresh ginger syrup in your shaker, then add one and a half ounces of your favorite dry gin (have you tried Bulldog Gin, yet?) and shake with ice. Pour into a tall collins glass over fresh ice and top with soda water and a fresh bunch of mint.
Regardless of which cocktails you choose to enjoy on your patio this summer, remember to use nature’s bounty of fresh, ripe fruits to make your beverages healthier and more delicious.