23 Low-Alcohol Drinks To Order Instead Of Hard Liquor


Hard liquor can be a lotta fun. But it can be good to have
a little break sometimes.

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Because hangovers suck.

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If you want to ease off the booze, but don’t want to go
teetotal for the night, low-ABV drinks are your guy.

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AMC

Vermouth, sherry, port and beer cocktails are your new
low-ABV BFFs.

Plus fun fact: Rather than doing Dry January, it’s much
better to just
try to lower your overall alcohol in-take in general.
So subbing in a few low-ABV options for your regular drinks
can be a healthier *lifestyle* choice than just going cold
turkey for a set period of time!

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We asked a bunch of bartenders and industry experts for
their best low-ABV drinks to get started on.

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Universal Pictures

Sophisticated, tasty, exciting drinks, with a low enough
ABV to leave you feeling great both during the night and
the morning after.

Here’s what they suggested.

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1. An
Americano.

“This drink is just equal parts amaro and sweet vermouth,
built over ice and topped with soda. It’s like a Negroni with
soda to make it even more refreshing; the perfect balance of
bitter and sweet. Plus, with this aperitivo, you can drink it
before dinner and still be able to make good conversation
afterwards.”

– Barry Oattes, owner of Kelvingrove Cafe,
Glasgow

ID: 10648093

2. A
spiked Arnold Palmer.

A spiked Arnold Palmer.

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“At Soul Store West, we make a delicious Arnie Palmer
spiked with sherry, called the “Long John Daly Cooler”.
It’s half earl grey and half lemonade, with sherry, lemon
and maple syrup added – the dry fruit notes and hints of
wood in the sherry make it a great alternative to rum.
Order it at your local bar, or it’s easy to make at home as
well.”

– Aaron Chick, bar manager at Soul Store
West, London

ID: 10648233

3. An
alternative G&T.

“Nothing says summertime like a G&T (or vodka and tonic
if you’re so inclined). For a low-ABV alternative, switch out
the spirit for a fortified wine like sherry (the She&T)
or white port. Look for a crisper dry sherry like Fino or
Manzanilla for an almost savoury tipple that’s the perfect
alternative for a G&T as summer approaches.”

– Emma Stokes, creator of Gin Monkey, London

ID: 10654428

4. An
Addington.

“The Addington is a lost classic: Classic because it dates to
the 1920s, and lost because vermouth fell out of favour.
Vermouth is back, and it is time for a rediscovery.

“Fresh vermouth is the secret to a great Addington. Also good
vermouth will make a huge difference. I like Cocchi Vermouth
di Torino with Martini Dry in mine. To make, just combine 1:1
sweet vermouth and dry vermouth over ice, stir and strain
into a chilled glass. Top with sparkling water and garnish
with an orange twist; You can also serve this drink on the
rocks or as a highball, but it is best served like a
martini.”

– Jared Brown, master distiller at Sipsmith, the Cotswolds

ID: 10653516

5.
Campari and soda.

Campari and soda.

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“Pre-bottled Campari and soda is widely available
throughout Italy, and when I visited Milan last year I made
sure that I was well stocked for my train journeys, walks
etc. If you can’t find the bottled stuff though, any
bartender can knock a glass together, and it’s ridiculously
simple to make it at home by yourself: just mix together
Campari and soda in a tall glass with ice and a slice of
orange.”

– Jamie Baxter, director and master distiller at 45 West Distillers,
Leicestershire

ID: 10653387

6. Ginger
ale and vermouth.

“We’re all searching for a low-ABV long drink that we can sit
back and drink all day. At Sacred, we make a “Dry Vermouth
Buck” (ginger ale, a shot of vermouth and a little lemon
juice served over ice) that ticks all those boxes, and isn’t
too sweet.

“You can use any good dry vermouth in your ginger ale, but
our Sacred English Dry is heavy on thyme, which really
compliments the ginger notes, and it contains no sugar for a
wonderfully tart finish. If you’re making up a jug at home,
serve with a sprig of mint and a slice of lemon.”

— Alexander Jeffreys, development bartender at Sacred
Microdistillery, London

ID: 10648339

7. A
Bellini.

A Bellini.

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“Giuseppe Cipriano created this drink at Harry’s Bar in
Venice, in 1945 and it’s now spread all over the world. A
very simple sparkling cocktail made with peach puree and
Prosecco, it’s refreshing, fruity and very easy to drink.

“As peaches are seasonal, you can always substitute them
for another fruit puree at home. White peaches are in
season in Italy from May to September, so in Venice certain
bars that insist on using fresh peaches rather than frozen
puree will only sell the drink between May and October.”

– Kisa Alicat, bartender at Bokan, London

ID: 10653453

8. A lemon
lime bitters.

“As far as low-ABV cocktails go this one sets the limbo bar.
A long refreshing mix of lemonade, fresh lime (or cordial if
thats your thing) and Angostura bitters, it’s an Aussie
classic you should be able to order anywhere – Bundaberg even
do their own bottled version. The citrus and bitters provide
just enough aromatic complexity to quench those tastebuds
while keeping you on the A1 to be the designated driver.”

– Marion Edmond, bartender (formerly El Camion), Edinburgh

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9. A
low-ABV Gin Fizz.

A low-ABV Gin Fizz.

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“We make a lower-ABV gin called Minus 33, that’s packed
full of flavour and lighter too. Substitute it into any gin
cocktail to bring down the alcohol content, but if they
don’t have it at the bar, just ask for a 37.5% ABV gin
instead (not as low-ABV as ours but lower than average).

“A great one is the classic Gin Fizz: mix a shot of Minus
33, a double of freshly squeezed lemon juice (although the
bottled stuff will do) and a single measure of agave or
sugar syrup. Shake over ice, strain into a champagne flute,
top up with soda and garnish with your choice of fruit. At
0.8 units and 131 calories, it’s low ABV and low cal.”

— Sam Trett, proprietor at Minus 33, Rosyth

ID: 10653636

10. A
Spritz.

“The Spritz originated in the Austrian alps on the Italian
boarders, with its name coming from the German word spritzen,
a drink which is to all intents and purposes what we know in
the UK as a spritzer – wine and soda. Add a splash of
Milanese aperitivo, and you’ve got the Milano Spritz.

“I like to intensify the flavours and add a little richness
to the classic with a shot of Aperol, and a teaspoon each of
elderflower liqueur, Picon Bière (bitter orange aperitif from
Southern France) and a fruit red wine. Serve this variation
with wild strawberry and a few drops of orange flower water
if you have it.”

– Richard Hunt, owner of Trailer Happiness and
The Mint Gun Club, London

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11.
Sangria.

Sangria.

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“This is a fantastic little drink with years of history –
anybody who’s found themselves on holiday in Spain (or
indeed visited a tapas bar anywhere in the world!) will
have tasted the inimitable Sangria. To make it yourself,
chop apples, oranges, a lemon and a bunch of grapes and add
sugar. Allow the sugar to cover said fruit for as long as
you’d like (the longer, the more intense the fruit flavour
will be). Add orange juice, Spanish brandy, a little orange
liqueur, a bottle of spanish red wine and stir, before
chilling with as much ice as you can fit in and topping
with sparkling water!

“What makes this drink so beautiful are the limitless
opportunities for personalisation: you can choose just how
‘low-ABV’ it is, simply by adding more or less of the
brandy, sparkling water and orange juice. Most bars you
visit will have their own version, so be prepared to try
something slightly different each time you order it.”

– James Bowker, bartender at The Edgbaston,
Birmingham

ID: 10653758

12. A
Sherry Woo Woo.

“Every bar will know how to make a Woo Woo – just have them
sub out the hard liquor for sherry. Our version is a shot
each of dry vermouth (ideally Cinzano for the full 80s vibe),
fino sherry and peach schnapps, topped with cranberry juice.
I like this drink because it’s insanely quaffable – and you
can drink them all night without falling over. Plus it’s a
ridiculously delicious twist on a terrible 80’s cocktail.”

– Felix Cohen, owner of Every Cloud bar, London

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13. A
Kalimotxo.

“With a recipe of half Coca Cola, half red wine, many may
call the Kalimotxo sacrilege. Popular in the Basque region of
Spain, it’s best made with cheap and cheerful Spanish reds –
don’t waste your best plonk on this. Half the ABV of a glass
of wine (with a little caffeine hit from the coke), it’s a
perfect drink for a long night.”

– Holly Willcocks, bar manager at Meatmission, London

ID: 10670879

14. A
Michelada.

“Pronounced MEE-chuh-lah-dah, this beer-based drink was born
around the Texas/Mexico border in the early 1990s when “the
wall” was just a fence. Use a lime wedge to wet the rim of a
beer glass. Invert the glass in a saucer of celery salt to
create a salt rim (add some pimento for colour if you like).
Fill the glass with ice. Combine Worcestershire sauce,
pepper, lime juice and Tabasco sauce in the glass. Add lager.
Stir gently and garnish with a jalapeño slice to impress your
friends.

“Optional extras include Bovril, Clamato Juice, Maggi
seasoning, miso paste, and just about any other savoury or
spicy ingredient in the kitchen – order it at your bar and
see what their version includes.”

– Jared Brown, master distiller at Sipsmith, the Cotswolds

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15.
Elderflower and Prosecco.

Elderflower and Prosecco.

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“I’ve always been a mimosa fan but recently have been known
to have some cloudy (always cloudy!) apple juice and a
small splash of elderflower cordial in my Prosecco. It’s
the perfect spritz to be drunk all day!”

– Rachael Frame, Owner at Tiger Hornsby,
Newcastle

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16. An
Aperol Sour.

“The simple, summery Aperol Sour is a fusion of the famous
bright orange Italian bitter Aperol with bittersweet
vermouth. I call my version Il Sorso D’estate (The Summer
Sip), and combine 30ml of Aperol and 30ml of Contratto Bianco
vermouth with a little lemon (15ml), sugar syrup (10ml), egg
white (20ml) and a few dashes of Peychauds bitters. Shake up
with ice, then without ice and strain into a flute for a
thick, foamy drink. It gives a tongue-tingling effect without
the hazy aftermath that comes with quaffing numerous
spiritous libations.”

– Philip David, store manager at The Distillery,
London

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17. Byrrh
and bitter lemon.

Byrrh and bitter lemon.

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“A double measure of Byrrh & bitter lemonade is always
delicious. The sweet Ribena-like flavour of the Byrrh
really travels with the bitter lemon, which keeps it from
being cloyingly sweet. Lots of ice is the key to this drink
and a big wedge of citrus like lime or grapefruit.”

– Molly Ross, Bar Manager at Harborne Kitchen,
Birmingham

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18. A
Sgroppino.

A Sgroppino.

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Bar Swift

“This is a classic Venetian drink, which has become one of
the signature serves in Swift’s upstairs bar. A fresh,
crisp palette cleanser of a drink, it also has indulgence
of a dessert thanks to the sorbet. To make ours, we combine
Prosecco with 10 ml of
Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto*, but this could be any
spirit of your choosing (it’s often vodka), before adding a
scoop of lemon sorbet, and garnishing with lemon zest.”

– Edmund Weil, co-owner at Bar Swift,
London

*Editor’s note: This is a divine rose and bergamot Italian
spirit, 100% recommend.

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19.
Fernet and coke.

Fernet and coke.

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“Fernet
Branca is an Italian amaro, bitters-type aromatic
grape-based spirit which has flavours from herbs, spices
and other bits and bobs including aloe and a shed load of
saffron! You’ll find it at most bars, and mixed with coke
it makes for a refreshing drink that’s full of character,
but won’t get you cross-eyed. There’s a good reason that
this drink is growing in popularity, and is currently the
most popular drink in Argentina!

“FYI, Fernet also goes great with a cheeky double espresso
after a big feed.”

– Josh Linfitt, brand ambassador at Scapegrace,
London

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20. OJ
& Campari.

“Campari and orange juice has to be my all-time-favourite,
and the one drink International Bartenders Association say
cures a hangover.”

– Ali Reynolds, brand ambassador at Diageo,
London

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21. A Port
Flip.

“This drink, a blend of a whole egg, port, sugar and cognac,
might be light on ABV, but it’s about as rich and decadent as
it gets. Think of creamy soft-serve port ice cream and you’re
getting close to the experience of a port flip. Also, try
making it with sloe gin in place of the port.”

– Jared Brown, master distiller at Sipsmith, the Cotswolds

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22. A
Sherry Cobbler.

A Sherry Cobbler.

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Emma Cooke / BuzzFeed

“With a history going back to the early 19th century, the
cobbler consists of a shot and a half of sherry, and 10 ml
of lemon, sugar, orange juice and pineapple juice, built
over ice and garnished with citrus fruit and berries. It’s
a perfect low-alcohol drink; refreshing and indulgent, it
looks a million dollars, and the dryness of the fino sherry
still transmits a pleasant bite to the drink. Whilst I
would drink this anytime, it’s perfectly suited to the
summer when berries are in season.”

– Edmund Weil, co-owner at Bar Swift,
London

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23. A
Diplomat.

“Like all good diplomats, this cocktail is all about equal
opportunities, made with one part sweet vermouth and one part
dry vermouth. Add a dash of angostura bitters and a dash of
orange bitters, and then the staple alternative to sugar when
adding sweetness: a spoon of Maraschino liqueur. Then just
stir over ice and serve straight up. If balance is the key to
happiness then The Diplomat is campaigning for your right to
enjoy, responsibly.”

– Jay Doy, bartender at Blind Pig, London

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Got more low alcohol drinks suggestions? Tweet me!

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