Diet Plans Low-Carb Diets Foods Print Alcoholic Drinks That Are Low in Carbs By Laura Dolson Updated July 14, 2019 Medically reviewed by a board-certified physician More in Diet Plans Low-Carb Diets Foods Popular Low-Carb Diets Cooking Tips/Products Dining Out Other Diets In This Article Table of Contents Expand Shots and Highballs Cocktails Liqueurs Beer Wine View All Back To Top Cocktails, beer, and wine can be high in carbohydrates and sugar. If you’re trying to reduce your carb intake, but still want to enjoy the occasional drink, there are low-carb alcohol options. You can even have alcohol on the keto diet, especially once you’ve picked up some tips and tricks for lowering the carb counts of your favorite cocktails. As long as you’re aware of the best (and worst) alcohol for low-carb diets, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite drinks in moderation without getting off track with your eating plan. Shots and Highballs Photo Courtesy: Shannon Graham Even though they're sourced from grain, distilled spirits such as rum, vodka, whiskey, gin, and tequila have no carbohydrates (after the distillation process, all that's left is the alcohol). Spirits can be served as a single shot, with ice, or with a mixer. If you use a mixer that's naturally calorie and carb-free, like still and sparkling water or club soda, you can actually make a totally carb-free drink. How Drinking Alcohol Can Cause You to Pack on the Pounds Other popular mixers do add calories and carbs. However many brands of tonic water, ginger ale, cola, and lemon-lime soda (7Up or Sprite) come in diet versions. If you're making a drink that's heavier on the mixer than the alcohol, such as a highball, use low-carb mixers to avoid added carbs. Carb Count for Spirits Whiskey 0 grams Tequila 0 grams Brandy 0 grams Dry Martini 0 grams Bloody Mary 7 grams Margarita 8 grams Cosmopolitan 8 grams Gin and Tonic 16 grams White Russian 17 grams Rum and Coke 39 grams *per typical preparation and serving size Cocktails John E. Kelly/Photodisc/Getty Images The most straightforward carb-free option aside from straight shots is spirits paired with carbonated mixers. If you prefer cocktails made with sweeter mixers like fruit juice, there are ways to make these drinks lower in carbs. Low-Carb Mixers Citrus mixers like lemon and lime juices usually don’t contribute much sugar, as a single drink doesn’t require much. The exception is orange juice. While orange juice doesn’t have much more sugar per ounce (3 grams) than other citrus juices (2 grams), you typically use more OJ to make a drink than, say, lemon or lime juice. One of the most popular drinks made with OJ is a screwdriver (vodka and orange juice). Depending on the size, a screwdriver can easily have 24 grams of carbs or more. Everything to know about the three phases of the South Beach Diet The carbs in other popular fruit juice mixers vary but keep in mind that how much you use (a splash versus a pour) will influence your cocktails’ final carb count. Carb Count for Fruit Juice Mixers Diet cranberry juice cocktail 0.2 grams Tomato juice 1 gram Light cranberry juice cocktail 1 gram Apple juice 3.5 grams Pineapple juice 4 grams Cranberry juice cocktail 4 grams *per ounce Artificial Sweeteners Simple syrup is a solution of sugar in water used to sweeten cocktails. One ounce has 4 tablespoons of sugar, about 50 grams of carbohydrates and almost 200 calories. Simple syrup is often combined with lemon juice or lime juice to make a sweet-and-sour mixer. To lighten the sugar and carb load, make your own sugar-free sweet and sour mixer using a liquid artificial sweetener. However, there are pros and cons to using artificial sweeteners you should consider before adding them to your liquor cabinet. The Food and Drug Administration has approved five artificial sweeteners for use: saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose. For example, the main appeal of sugar substitutes is that they don't add calories or carbohydrates, making them popular choices for people trying to lose weight or control their blood sugar. Many products used to mix alcoholic beverages, like diet soda, powder mixes, and drops (like Crystal Light), have sugar-free varieties. However, in order to compensate for the lack of flavor, artificial sweeteners are generally much sweeter in taste than real sugar. Some research has indicated that when we eat these sweeter sugar substitutes regularly, it may alter our tastes. We may start to prefer and seek out sweeter foods, finding those with only naturally-occurring amounts of sugar (or no sugar) too bland. If you want to avoid the additives, look for products sweetened with stevia, erythritol, and fruit juice concentrate or crystals. Naturally Sweetened White Russian Cocktail Recipe Other Cocktail Ingredients Small amounts of bitters, an alcoholic preparation made with botanical ingredients, are often used in cocktails, especially an Old Fashioned. Carb counts for bitters vary. Some preparations have few or no carbs, while other mixes can have upwards of 15 grams per tablespoon. Vermouth is a flavored fortified wine used to make classic martinis. Dry vermouth contains about 1 gram of carbs per ounce, while sweetened forms contain about 4 grams per ounce. Low-Carb Cocktail Recipes Low-Carb Cosmopolitan Recipe (1 gram)Sugar-Free Whiskey Sour Recipe (2 grams)Low-Carb Tom Collins Recipe (2 grams)Sugar-Free Margarita Recipe (6 grams)Bloody Mary Recipe (9 grams) Liqueurs Peter ten Broecke / E+ / Getty Images Of all the alcoholic beverages, liqueurs have the most carbs—and always contain sugar. If you want to have a liqueur on its own, be mindful of portion size. If you usually include liqueur in your cocktail recipes, use a smaller pour or a sugar-free alternative. These carb counts for popular liqueur are for one regular-sized jigger (about 1.5 ounces) but the carb counts for individual brands may vary. When you have the choice of several brands, be sure to carefully read nutrition labels. Liqueur Carb Counts B & B (brandy and Bénédictine) 8 grams Kirsch 9 grams Grand Marnier 10 grams Bailey's Irish Cream 11 grams Campari 12 grams Cointreau 15 grams Triple sec 16 grams Ouzo 16 grams Sambuca 17 grams Crème de cassis 17 grams Crème de menthe 21 grams Crème de cacao 22 grams Coffee liqueur (Kahlúa) 24 (or more) grams Amaretto 25 grams *per 1.5 ounces Liqueurs as Mixers Bénédictine, crème de cacao, crème de menthe, and Cointreau are also used as mixers. You can still enjoy these drinks in moderation by using a swap to lower the amount of sugar the drinks contain. Replace the flavor of liqueur by using other flavorings. A drop or two of orange extract can substitute for orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau. Peppermint extract can take the place of peppermint schnapps.Replace liqueur with an equal volume of sugar-free syrup. Several brands, like DaVinci or Torani, sell syrups in an array of flavors—some of which are those of liqueurs like amaretto, crème de menthe, and Irish Cream.Use flavored spirits. Try using citrus-flavored vodka as the base of your drink rather than adding liqueur. Just be aware that in some cases, the spirits may have a higher alcohol content than the liqueur they're replacing. Beer Epicuring Regular beer contains about 12 grams of carbs per serving. However, the number can vary from one brand to another, so check the label. In general, the darker or heavier the beer, the more carbs it has. Craft Beer The carb grams in 12 ounces of light beer varies from 2.4 to 7. Ales have around 5 to 9 carb grams. Stouts or dark beers vary greatly, but extra-stout varieties can have up to 20 grams per bottle. Check the label or brewer’s website for specific craft beers, but keep in mind that many can rival stout in carb counts. Beer Carb Counts Bud Select 55 1.8 grams Miller 64 2.4 grams Michelob Ultra 2.6 grams Miller Light 3.2 grams Coors Light 5 grams Bud Light 6.6 grams Heineken 11 grams Budweiser 11 grams Pabst Blue Ribbon 12 grams Stella Artois 13 grams Corona Extra 14 grams Guinness Extra 14 grams Fuller's London Porter 20 grams Samuel Adams Double Bock 27 grams *by the bottle Non-alcoholic Beer If you like the taste of beer but prefer non-alcoholic versions, there are some that are relatively low-carb and low-calorie. For example, a 12-ounce can of Busch NA Low Alcohol Beer has 60 calories and 12.9 grams of carbs, and MillerCoors non-alcoholic beer has 58 calories and 12.2 grams of carbs per 12-ounce can. Wine Photo: Alexandra Shytsman Overall, wine contains a small amount of carbohydrate. While the carb count for each type varies, as a general rule, sweeter wines have higher carb counts. Wine Carb Counts Dry champagne 2.5 grams Sauvignon blanc 3 grams Pinot grigio 3 grams Chardonnay 3.1 grams Pinot noir 3.4 grams Shiraz/Syrah 3.7 grams Cabernet Sauvignon 3.8 grams Zinfandel 4.2 grams Rosé 5 grams Riesling 5 grams Muscat 8 grams Dessert wines 12-14 grams Late harvest wine 20 grams *per 5-ounce serving Wine or spirit coolers can have 30 to 40 grams of carb per bottle. If you’re eating (and drinking) low-carb, avoid “breezers” and “hard lemonade” as these beverages are primarily sugar. A Word From Verywell You can enjoy an occasional cocktail, beer, or wine as part of a low-carb lifestyle. If you're cutting carbs to manage diabetes, be aware that alcohol can make your blood sugar levels erratic. The way in which alcohol affects blood sugar is also influenced by several specific factors, such as the type and amount of alcohol you choose, as well as whether you’ve had something to eat. Remember that reducing a drink’s carb count won’t lessen the effects of alcohol, so always drink responsibly. Does Alcohol Have a Place in a Healthy Diet? Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Looking to start a low-carb diet, but not sure where to start? Sign up to get our free recipe book and enjoy delicious low-carb meals. Email Address Sign Up There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. What are your concerns? Other Inaccurate Hard to Understand Submit Article Sources Green E, Murphy C. Altered processing of sweet taste in the brain of diet soda drinkers. Physiol Behav. 2012;107(4):560-7.a. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.05.006 Additional Reading USDA Food Composition Database. United States Department of Agriculture. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/. 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