Whether your favorite team makes it to the big game or not (as an Angeleno who used to live in New Orleans, I am still reeling from their playoff game), the Super Bowl is an excellent excuse to throw a party. This year, why not skip boring old beer and go for something that will please your palate without blowing your diet? As I explain here, it’s totally possible to imbibe while sticking to a fitness plan if you choose your cocktails carefully. Here are some healthy(ish) Super Bowl drinks for your big party.
If the excitement of the game 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. According to Professor Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre at the University of Cardiff in Wales, hot drinks—particularly sweet and sour ones like the toddy—promote mucus secretion, which defends against bacteria and viruses. Try this toddy recipe adapted from Imbibe.
• 1 1/2 oz whiskey of your choice (like bourbon or rye)
• 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.
Just because you’re watching football doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a classy drink. The martini is a healthy option thanks to its low-calorie count. When you make it “dirty” by adding olive juice and olives, you also gain a bit of good fat that’s 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
• 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 (an even number of olives is bad luck according to bartender’s lore, so act accordingly if you’re superstitious).
While most Moscow Mule recipes call for bottled ginger beer, this one adapted from Bon Appetit calls for fresh ginger. The result? The warming bite of anti-inflammatory ginger without the excess carbs.
• 2 oz. vodka
• 1½ oz simple syrup
• 1 oz fresh lime juice
• 1 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
• 2 oz. sparkling water
• 1 lime wedge
Combine vodka, simple syrup, lime juice, and ginger in a cocktail shaker, then fill shaker with ice. Shake until outside of shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice, top off with sparkling water and garnish with lime wedge.
Don’t let the fact that the Super Bowl is played in the evening stop you from enjoying this surprisingly nutritious cocktail at your party. 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.
The key to making this classic cocktail “healthy(ish)” is to use fresh-squeezed orange juice in place of the sweetened, from-concentrate stuff you get at the grocery store. Not only will you avoid processed sugar, but you’ll also get a nice dose of immune-boosting vitamin C along with your buzz. Here’s a recipe adapted from Greatist.
• 1 shot vodka
• 2 shots fresh orange juice
• Sparkling water
• Pour vodka and juice into an 8-ounce glass with ice. Top with sparkling water.
No matter who you’re rooting for, you can stick to your health goals while enjoying the big game. For more information on how lifestyle changes like choosing the right cocktail can help you be your best self, sign up for my newsletter:
About Myles Spar, MD
Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher