7 Tips for Sinless Drinking + Skinny Cocktails

— by Caroline on Crack

Skinny cocktail Donaji cocktail by Caroline on Crack

Does this Donaji cocktail at Rivera count as a “skinny cocktail”?

Lately I’ve been obsessed about losing weight and just recently decided to see what would happen if I went on a cocktail diet. After all, Americans drink about 20 percent of their calories on average (according to Fitness magazine). But instead of limiting my cocktail intake, why not just drink skinny cocktails? And I’m not talking about that Skinny girl fad but smart drinking like avoiding sugary ingredients, etc. Did you know a 2.5-ounce Manhattan has 130 calories? Now THAT’s a skinny cocktail I can get behind.**

So I did some research (aka poked around the Interwebs) and came up with some guidelines for smart, guilt-free drinking. ****Some of it may be obvious to most but I still found it useful to have it spelled out.

Guidelines for Sinless Drinking:

  1. Skip the mixer and go for infused spirits for the added flavor.
  2. No creams or creamy, sugary liqueurs.
  3. Avoid the sugar — on the rim, chocolate syrups, maraschino cherries. When faced with the choice, use club soda not tonic water which has sugar.
  4. Enjoy your cocktail on the rocks. If anything, straight spirit on the rocks is ideal.
  5. Keep it simple. One spirit, maybe one or two fresh juices. The less ingredients, the better your chances that it’s low in calories. So avoid multi-spirit cocktails. Long Island Iced Teas are always a bad idea anyway.
  6. The higher the proof, the higher the calories. While 100-proof vodka is a surefire way to get buzzed faster, it’s also a surefire way to get that pooch.
  7. Drink water before you start your night and between each drink so you don’t make the mistake of using the cocktail to sate your thirst.

And I asked Damian Windsor of The Roger Room in West Hollywood what he’s told customers who’ve come in asking for skinny cocktails. Apart from Guinness and Bacardi and diet, he suggested a Partida margarita which basically has 1.5 ounces of tequila and agave nectar, no sweet and sour here.

For one customer averse to the nectar, he sweetened it another way. “While I worked at Copa, a guest told me he had an allergy to processed sugar (amongst other problems) so we went through a lot of products before we finally came up with 1.5 ounces of Partida blanco, two strawberries as sweetener and three ounces of grapefruit juice.” Sounds like a tasty way to cut down the sugar. FYI, you can also find this Partida margarita aka “The Perfect Margarita” at Rush Street in Culver City.

For fun, I perused through some of my fave Los Angeles bars’ cocktail menus and applied the above guidelines to figure out what sounds like the lesser of all evils. I’m not a health expert so can’t vouch for how many calories each cocktail actually has but again, these are just what I’d pick according to the low-calorie drinking guidelines. And remember, you can always tell your bartender to go easy on/leave out the simple syrup or agave nectar for a true skinny cocktail.

Copa d’Oro:

  • Santa Monica Gimlet — Tanqueray Gin, celery, cucumber, fresh lime juice
  • Romantic Affair — Ketel One Citron Vodka, strawberry, basil, fresh lemon juice

The Edison Downtown:

  • Amelie — Strawberry and cucumber crushed with Ron Matusalem Classico, bitters and touched with a bit of effervescence

Comme Ca:

  • Maid in Mexico — Tequila, fresh lime juice, sprig of mint, wheel of cucumber
  • Gordon’s Cup — Gin, muddled limes and cucumbers, pinch of salt


  • La Picosa — Reposado tequila, serrano chile, mango, honey
  • Donaji — Mezcal, fresh citrus, pomegranate, agave nectar, chapulin salt

Little Dom’s:

  • Pixi Goldrush — Rye and Pixi Tangerines
  • The Echo Park — El Charro Tequila, muddled sweet peppers, mint and lime


  • The Akasha — Crop organic cucumber vodka, pineapple and cucumber juice

Westside Tavern:

  • Carrot & Cilantro Caipirinha — Boca Loca Cachaca, cilantro sprigs, lime juice, carrot juice, Angostura bitters
  • Moscow Mule — Vodka, pureed ginger, lime, club soda

Fuego at the Maya:

  • Strawberry-Watermelon Margarita — Fresh watermelon, strawberries and Herradura silver tequila blended and served up

Ortega 120:

  • Jamaica Cooler — Gran Centenario Rosangel, housemade hibiscus with a sparkling finish

More low-calorie drinking info:
Great low-calorie cocktail recipes from the Intoxicologist.
Low-Calorie Cocktails from WebMD