3 ways to lighten up your summer cocktails
It’s summer, and all you want to do is sip on cocktails by the pool (or beach or lake – any body of water will do, really). But 3-4 margaritas later, you realize you’ve consumed more than 1,500 calories and more than 150 grams of sugar… whoa!
How is that possible? Well, one 8-oz margarita can have as many as 455 calories. 32 ounces of the drink (or four 8-oz margs) can have as many as 156 grams of sugar. These calorie and sugar counts can equal one person’s macros for the entire day.
Listen, I’m not hating on the margarita — it will forever be one of my favorite drinks. But if you want to lighten up your cocktails for the summer — without resorting to boring options — I’ve got a solution for you.
I’ve teamed up with Natasha Samone, the genius mixologist at the Atlanta restaurant Bully Boy, and SmartWater, to create delicious summer cocktails that are light on sugar and calories, not on flavor.
Natasha made three different cocktails, each one with a different type of liquor to suit a variety of tastes. And each drink is topped with one of SmartWater’s new sparkling water flavors, which are all completely free of sugar, calories, colors and artificial flavors.
SmartWater has released three new flavors of sparkling water: Fuji apple pear, strawberry blood orange, and raspberry rose. They’re perfect for packing for a road trip, drinking on their own or mixing into your adult beverage.
Check out the photos and recipes below, and feel free to recreate these cocktails at your next summer gathering. When you do, could you please do me a favor and let me know which one you make/like best? Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post!
The Summer Smash:
A take on the bourbon smash, but with a lot less sugar. The traditional recipe for this cocktail calls for 1 part simple syrup to 2 parts bourbon – aka, a third of the cocktail is sugar. This version is made with the honey liqueur Barenjager, so you still get the sweet flavor without the blood sugar spike.
Summer Smash ingredients:
1.5 oz Widow Jane rye mash whiskey
0.5 oz Barenjager
SmartWater raspberry rose sparkling water
Fresh lemon slices
Muddle 2-3 fresh lemon slices in a rocks glass, then fill it with ice. Add the Barenjager and bourbon or whiskey of your choice (I love a good rye), and fill the rest of the glass with the raspberry rose SmartWater sparkling water. The raspberry rose flavor is really mild, so it won’t overpower of your drink. Stir the cocktail in the glass to mix and garnish with a couple of additional slices of lemon.
The Summer Sprtiz
This is a take on the Aperol Spritz. The original recipe is a combination of Aperol, prosecco, and soda water. The truth is, you can make a spritz with any type of liqueur, as long as you combine it with sparkling wine and sparkling water. So here’s a lighter, move flavorful twist on this classic Italian cocktail.
Summer Spritz ingredients:
2 oz St. George Bruto Americano
3 oz sparkling wine of your choice
SmartWater strawberry blood orange sparkling water
Fill a large wine glass with ice and add 2 oz of Bruto Americano, which is a citrus-y bitter liqueur. Then add in 3 oz of your favorite sparkling wine, and fill up the rest of the glass with the strawberry blood orange flavor of SmartWater’s sparkling water. Stir the drink in the glass and add a fresh strawberry as garnish. The blood orange flavor of the sparkling water brings out the citrus notes of the Bruto Americano, and the fresh strawberry garnish is the perfect complement to the strawberry part of the flavored water.
The Summer 75:
This drink is a play on the French 75, which is usually made with white table sugar. This recipe eliminates the sugar and replaces champagne with a flavored sparkling water to make the cocktail lighter in calories.
Summer 75 ingredients:
1.5 oz Watershed bourbon barrel gin
0.5 oz Benedictine
SmartWater Fuji apple pear sparkling water
Add Benedictine and gin to a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a champagne flute. Fill the rest of the glass with the Fuji apple pear sparkling water from SmartWater and serve with a lemon twist on top.
Huge thanks to Natasha Samone of Bully Boy for her help coming up with these original cocktail recipes! Her ingenuity and creativity when it comes to combining flavors is truly impressive! Go see her for a pre-dinner drink at the bar at Bully Boy, a seafood restaurant near the Atlanta Beltline that specializes in east coast dishes. Then stay for dinner and nosh raw oysters, Georgia shrimp, and blue crab fried rice.