Guide of low calorie beers, wines and liquors
If you’re looking to cut back on calories, but still enjoy top-notch beverages, Drizly’s your low-cal liquor hub. Calories are just a number, man.
February 05, 2021
Back in our hunter-gatherer days, calories were a pretty trendy commodity. It was important to chow down on mammoth burgers when you had the chance because it was hard to say when you might bring down another. Now that most of us aren’t literally chasing our dinners down, we’re realizing that we don’t need quite so many calories. Luckily, there are some tricks to enjoying a drink without blowing your calorie budget on the first sip. Let Drizly give you the skinny on low-cal liquors and drinks!
Reducing calories with liquor
Alcoholic drinks can represent a tricky source of hidden calories and carbs, particularly since most producers don’t show their nutritional facts (though that is changing). For example, your average 5% ABV beer has about 153 calories in a 12 oz. bottle, and some of those big double IPA’s can really get up there. Luckily, liquor is alcohol’s “one weird trick” for beating this problem. Distillation refines your drink and removes a lot of potential calories - and all carbs - so it’s a really good starting point if you’re cutting back.
What’s the lowest calorie drink/liquor?
We generally see vodka as the champion of low-cal alcohol. When you pour a 1.5 oz. serving of this Eastern European staple (40% alcohol), you’re looking at about 96 calories and no carbs at all. If you’re looking for more flavorful spirits, though, you’re in luck: 40% ABV gin, rum, tequila and whiskey are calorically pretty much the same as vodka. Opens things up a bit, right?
What’s a good sipping vodka?
We don’t usually recommend taking straight shots of liquor (there’s a time and place, of course!), particularly if you’re trying to cut calories, but you can certainly enjoy the low-cal benefits of a good vodka all on its own. The best vodkas are clean, smooth and subtle. Titos, Grey Goose, Belvedere and Beluga all fit that bill. They’re velvety, pure and will turn you into a vodka connoisseur before you can say “na zdrowie”. Skip dessert by sipping some high-end vodka after dinner and you’ll make a big dent in that calorie total.
What’s a good low-calorie sipping whiskey?
There’s a world of great whiskeys out there for sipping, and they’re all great low-cal options when you don’t overdo it. For lowest calories, pick a 40% alcohol (80 proof) whiskey. Remember that higher alcohol equals more calories. A great standard like Four Roses tastes delightfully sweet yet magically has no carbs. Across the pond they’re making wildly flavorful great scotch whisky. A wonderful intro scotch Glenlivet 12 year is tropically fruity and creamy with hints of almond character.
What’s a great low-calorie sipping tequila?
We like our sipping tequila to be aged in barrels for at least at least a little while. Reposado tequila ages between two months and a year. The best brands, like Don Julio and Casamigos reposado, pick up a nice golden color and lots of great flavors like caramel, vanilla and cocoa. For even more vanilla/oak flavor - and no additional calories - try Añejo tequila, which ages even longer than reposado.
If you’re feeling cocktails tonight but you’re close to your calorie limit, you still have options. For many classic cocktails, you can swap in low-to-no calorie ingredients in place of original. Try diet tonic water in place of the sugary stuff for your gin and tonic. Use diet cola for your rum and coke. If you want to cut the carb content, try stevia in place of simple syrup in your sazerac.
Pre-packaged low-cal liquors
If you want to save the liquor blending to the pros, you’ll find lots of low-cal options in our ready-to-drink section. Most of them are around 100 calories for a 12 oz. can. Vodka legends Ketel One have thrown their hats into the ring with their vodka botanicals, which come in at a miniscule 73 calories per serving. They have several flavors available, but we’ve found their cucumber mint particularly refreshing.
Low calorie wine, beer and seltzers
What’s the lowest calorie wine?
While liquor has the fewest calories pound for pound, you shouldn’t pigeonhole yourself there. Wine has a few more calories per serving than liquor, but it’s not a crazy amount. The wines with the fewest calories tend to be dry reds. Pinot noir is just 121 calories per a standard 5 oz. serving. Hall of famers cCabernet sauvignon and merlot clock in at just 122. Those are some pretty big flavors packed into small packages.
What’s the lowest calorie hard seltzer?
White Claw 70 is the reigning light flyweight champion of calories at 70. This one is so light that you’re never quite able to tell if the can is empty or full, so you’d be hard pressed to find a lighter hard seltzer. Most hard seltzers are already pretty low on both calories and carbs; it’s part of their appeal. We recommend exploring the seltzer-verse for a blend of flavor and calories that suits you.
What’s a good low-calorie beer?
Don’t give up on lovely beer! Certainly, some beers can be very high on the calorie scale, but we’re increasingly seeing low-cal options. Michelob Ultra Pure Gold has now eclipsed its sibling beer Michelob Ultra as one of the tiniest beers we know of at 85 calories.
What about low calorie craft beer?
Both Ultra and Pure Gold are nice, light grainy lagers, but craft beer drinkers will likely want to try hoppier digs like Dogfish Head’s Slightly Mighty. It’s tropically hoppy and wonderfully aromatic at just 95 calories and 3.6g of carbs. Surely you can make room for that in your life.
Is there such a thing as zero-calorie alcohol?
Not that we know of. Even if you strip alcohol down to its purest form, it contains calories, so that 0-calorie drink is still reserved for Sci-fi bars. If we find one we’ll tell you, and if you find one, you tell us, OK?
Low calorie non-alcoholic beers and sparkling water
If you’re interested in ditching the alcohol altogether this evening, you can take the low-cal theme even further. Athletic Brewing Co. has created a range of great non-alcoholic brews that are all 90 calories or less. Their delicious Upside Dawn blond ale is only 50! Lagunitas brewing makes Hop Refresher Sparkling Water, which is alcohol free and actually has no calories. Check out our Dry January blog for more non-alcoholic/low-cal inspiration!
Low-cal drinking can help you better understand how you enjoy your drinks. Ideally, it’ll also challenge you to get more from less and feel great about it. There’s probably a life lesson in that - one which is best discussed over a 96-calorie drink. We hope you’ll still indulge in a lush DIPA from time to time, but now you know that there’s a lot to like about the lighter side. Find your favorite low-cal drinks tonight here on Drizly!