My healthy alcohol options for the holidays blog post was so popular, I decided to share some other healthy-ish options for those of you continuing to celebrate into the new year. Whether you’re doing apres-ski or hosting an Oscar party, entertaining doesn’t mean you have to derail your fitness plan. As I explain here, it’s quite possible to imbibe without overindulging if you choose your cocktails carefully. Here are some healthier drinks for your big party.
A bit like a grown-up version of fruit punch, sangria features my favorite heart-healthy alcohol: red wine. According to the Mayo Clinic, red wine contains antioxidants like resveratrol that may help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, protect your blood vessels, and inhibit clotting. And a review examining the effects of wine’s abundant antioxidants found it may be beneficial for reducing cardiovascular risk factors. Try this sangria recipe adapted from the ultimate hostess, Martha Stewart.
– 1 cup brandy
– 1 orange, ends cut off and thinly sliced
– 1 apple, halved and thinly sliced
– 2 bottles dry red wine, chilled
– 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
– 1 cup club soda
– In a large pitcher, stir together brandy and fruit slices. Let stand for 15 minutes, then add orange juice, wine, and club soda. Serve over ice.
If the excitement of the party isn’t enough to warm you up, try a hot toddy. Not only does it taste great, the traditional combination of whiskey, lemon, honey, and boiling water may also ease cold symptoms. As Professor Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre at the University of Cardiff in Wales, told The Telegraph, hot drinks—particularly sweet and sour ones like the toddy—promote mucus secretion, which defends against bacteria and viruses. Try this recipe adapted from Imbibe.
– 1 1/2 oz whiskey
– 1 tsp honey
– 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
– 4 oz boiling water
– Combine all ingredients in a teacup or mug and stir well. Garnish with a lemon wedge or cinnamon stick, if desired.
Who says you can’t enjoy a classy cocktail while hanging out with the guys? The martini is a healthy option thanks to its low calorie count, which LIVESTRONG estimates to be around 240. When you make it “dirty” by adding olive juice and olives, you also gain a bit of “good” fat. The fat found in olives is especially beneficial for heart health—in one meta-analysis of 32 cohort studies, consumption of monounsaturated fats from olive oil was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality, cardiovascular events, and stroke. Impress your friends with this dirty martini recipe adapted from the Spruce.
– 2 1/2 oz vodka (or gin, if you prefer)
– 1/2 oz dry vermouth
– 1/4 oz (or more) olive juice
– Olives, to taste
– Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with olives. (Legend has it, an even number of olives is bad luck, so act accordingly.)
Just because your party is happening at night doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this surprisingly nutritious brunch favorite. Tomato juice is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like lycopene, which has been shown to protect against heart disease and some types of cancer. (Look for the low-sodium variety, since some tomato juices contain a ton of salt.) Celery and other vegetable garnishes add nutrients like vitamin K, folate, and fiber. You could even set up a bloody mary bar so guests can build their own. Start with this basic recipe adapted from CookingLight.
– 1/2 cup low sodium tomato juice
– 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
– 1 tsp hot sauce (more if you like it spicy, less if you don’t)
– 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
– 1 1/2 oz vodka
– Pickles, olives, celery stalks, lemon wedges, etc. for garnish
– Combine ingredients in a tall glass and stir well. Add ice and garnishes of your choice.
If you’re not interested in whipping up any of these recipes, you can always go with the classic party beverage, beer. Just make sure to stick to one or two, especially if you’re drinking a craft brew. Men’s Fitness has a helpful list of lighter craft beers here.
Wondering what others areas of your health could use your attention? Consider taking my Optimal Men’s Health quiz. It’s designed to help you determine your next best step to getting healthier and closer to winning.
Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.