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If you’ve been under the impression that alcoholic drinks and weight loss can’t go together, we’ve got some great news for you. It actually can be perfectly safe to drink alcohol on your low-carb diet, so long as you take careful note of what you’re drinking. There are lots of low-carb options out there, and even a fair selection of zero-carbs drinks.
Keep reading to learn more about the best keto-friendly adult beverages, as well as those you should avoid. We’ve also amassed a small collection of keto cocktails, or low-carb alcoholic beverages, that taste great and won’t derail your efforts to lose weight.
What Types of Alcohol are Keto-Friendly?
Of all the different types of alcoholic beverages, pure spirits are the best for those on a keto diet. Seeing as they have absolutely zero carbs, you might as well call them keto alcohol.
Pure spirits, also known as hard liquor, include brandy, cognac, gin, vodka, tequila, and whiskey. So long as you don’t add anything to these spirits, they’re absolutely safe for a strict keto diet.
After hard liquor, your next best bet on a keto diet is wine. Many dry wines, like white wine, red wine, and champagne, contain about 2 grams of carbs per serving. Sweet wines and dessert wines will have more carbs per serving due to the higher sugar levels.
Beer is a popular, refreshing drink that many people like to enjoy socially or after a long day. Though it’s been called “liquid bread” due to the fact that it’s made from grains and typically has high carb counts, you can partake in these alcoholic drinks if you choose low-carb beers. The best keto-friendly, light beers, like Michelob Ultra and Natural Light, contain 4 grams of carbs or less per serving, but keep in mind that knocking back several will be enough to knock you out of ketosis.
What are the Worst Alcoholic Drinks for a Keto Diet?
Unfortunately, the worst alcoholic drinks for a keto diet also tend to be among the tastiest. Mixed drinks, which combine hard liquor and a wide range of other yummy ingredients, can spell big trouble if you’re not careful.
Let’s first start with wine coolers. These types of mixed drinks tend to come with fun, exciting names and flashy images of delicious fruits splashed across their labels. While these mixed drinks may have some natural flavors, they mostly contain sugar — so much sugar. Wine coolers routinely serve up 25 to 30 grams of carbs per serving. At that point, you are literally just drinking sugar with a bit of alcohol.
So now let’s discuss mixed drinks that you create on your own. Because you control what goes into your mixed drink, you get to decide how many net carbs you consume. However, note that this means you have to be extremely diligent when it comes to reading nutritional labels and counting carbs.
For example, if you follow a traditional recipe for rum and Coke, which uses rum, cola, and lime juice, your drink could top out at over 20 grams of carbs. You could try limiting the amount of soda you use, but you’re still dealing with a lot of sugar, and then you may also compromise the taste of the end product.
Sugar is an issue with many, if not most, mixed drinks, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo them. Instead, you need to get creative. The best way to turn sugar-laden adult beverages into a low-carb alcoholic drinks is to use smart alternatives. Use diet sodas instead of regular, for example, or swap out all refined sugar for a no-calorie sugar alternative.
The Best Low-Carb Alcoholic Beverages for a Keto Diet
Now that you know that the secret to drinking alcohol on a low-carb diet is to stick with pure spirits and make mindful substitutes, let’s jump into our list of the best low-carb alcoholic drinks for a ketogenic diet.
1. Low-Carb Watermelon Limeade
Tangy, fruity, and delicious, this sweet drink tastes like it’s loaded with sugar, but it’s not. It’s so tasty, even those who don’t regularly drink alcohol will be reaching for a glass.
1/4 cup sugar substitute
1/4 cup water
2 cups cubed watermelon
1/2 cup lime juice
1 cup vodka
- Combine the sugar substitute and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk the mixture as it comes to a boil to ensure it’s dissolved, and then remove from heat to cool.
- Use a blender to combine the watermelon, lime juice, vodka, and cooled sugar mixture until it reaches a smooth consistency.
- Serve immediately over ice.
2. Sugar-Free Moscow Mule
This classic drink is typically high in sugar, but we’ve solved that problem by using a sugar alternative and diet ginger ale instead. Prepare it our way, and it’s definitely a safe keto alcohol.
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of sliced ginger
3 tablespoons granulated sugar alternative
8 ounces of diet ginger ale
4 ounces of vodka
1 ounce of lime juice
mint leaves for garnish
- Create a simple syrup by heating the water, ginger, and sugar alternative in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to cool completely.
- In a pitcher, add the diet soda, vodka, lime juice, and 1 ounce of the previously prepared simple syrup, and stir until thoroughly mixed.
- Pour into a glass with ice, garnish with mint, and serve immediately.
3. Rum and Cola for Keto Dieters
This classic combo is immensely popular, but prepared the traditional way, it’s absolutely awful for a keto diet. Thankfully, switching out just one ingredient turns it into a drink with zero net carbs.
12 ounces sugar-free cola or diet soda
2 ounces rum
- Add several ice cubes to a glass, and then pour the rum over the ice.
- Pour the cola over the ice and rum.
- Squeeze the lime over the cola.
- Serve immediately.
4. Low-Carb Margarita
Also known as a skinny margarita, this fun beverage turns keto-friendly when you use your favorite sugar alternative. We’re not saying that drinking them will help with weight loss, but they definitely won’t hurt when enjoyed in moderation.
1/3 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons sugar alternative
6 ounces tequila
1.5 tablespoons orange extract
5 ice cubes
Sea salt and lime wedges for garnish
- Blend the lime juice, sugar alternative, tequila, orange extract, and ice cubes until they form a smooth, slushy consistency.
- Prepare four glasses by running the lime wedges around the rim, and then dipping in the sea salt.
- Evenly divide the margarita mix between the four glasses, and serve immediately.
5. Sparkling Tropical Sangria
This sparkling, low-carb cocktail does away with fruit juice in favor of whole fruit. It’s easy to double or triple the recipe for larger crowds, and the longer you let it infuse, the stronger the flavor.
25 ounces of moscato sparkling wine (one bottle)
4 ounces of mango-flavored vodka
12 ounces of coconut water
1 cup cubed mango
1 cup cubed pineapple
2 thinly-sliced limes
- Pour the white wine, vodka, and coconut water in a large pitcher and stir to mix.
- Add the mango, pineapple, and lime to the sparkling wine mixture.
- Chill the white wine mixture for at least two hours to infuse the flavors, and then serve chilled.
6. Mojito Keto Cocktail
The traditional mojito enjoys a low-carb spin with this easy recipe. Because you’re not deviating from the original recipe too much, you’ll find that this minty beverage tastes just like you remember.
1 tablespoon sugar substitute
10 mint leaves
1/2 cup crushed ice
1/4 cup soda water
3 tablespoons white rum
- Pour the sugar substitute into a bowl, and squeeze the lime juice over the top.
- Add the mint leaves to the sugar mixture, and crush with a pestle or fork until roughly combined.
- Transfer the sugar and mint mixture to a tall glass with ice.
- Pour the white rum and soda water into the glass, and stir with a straw.
- If needed, add more soda water to dull the sweetness of the drink, and serve immediately with mint garnish.
7. Low-Carb White Russian
Your typical White Russian has over 20 grams of sugar, so it’s a no-go for a keto diet. But this low-carb version allows you to enjoy alcoholic drinks with less than 1 gram of the sweet stuff. Don’t worry: It’s still as rich and creamy as the original, so you won’t feel as if you’re depriving yourself.
1.5 ounces of vodka
1 tablespoon of water
1 tablespoon of cold-brew coffee
1 teaspoon powdered sugar alternative
3 ounces of heavy cream
- Combine the vodka, water, coffee, and sugar alternative in a glass, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add ice to the glass, and then pour the heavy cream over the top.
- Serve immediately.
8. Keto-Style Tequila Lemonade
At the height of summer, nothing refreshes quite like a lemonade. If you want to drink alcohol while cooling down, we highly suggest this tequila-infused drink.
2 ounces of tequila
2 ounces of sugar alternative
2 ounces of lemon juice
1/2 cup ice
- Shake the tequila, sugar alternative, and lemon juice until the sugar has dissolved.
- Pour the mixture over ice, and serve immediately.
9. Keto Whiskey Ginger
This whiskey ginger recipe is another perfect example of how making one smart substitution can take a drink from having a sky-high carb count to having none at all.
2 ounces whiskey
2 ounces sugar-free ginger ale
- Pour the whiskey into a glass.
- Pour the sugar-free ginger ale into the same glass.
- There’s no need to stir; serve immediately.
10. Low-Carb Espresso Martini
Like having a bit of caffeine with your alcohol? This low-carb take on an espresso martini is perfect for a keto diet and those nights when you plan to stay up late.
1/2 cup ice
1 ounce Kahlua
3 ounces vodka
1 ounce liquid sugar alternative
1.5 ounces of espresso
- Add the ice to a cocktail shaker.
- Add the remaining ingredients, and shake until the mixture is cool.
- Pour the prepared keto cocktail into a glass, and serve immediately.
11. Peachy Long Island Iced Tea
This peachy Long Island iced tea is one of our favorite keto-friendly drinks. It’s equally great for serving at parties as it is preparing alongside a quiet dinner.
1/2 ounce of bourbon
1 ounce of vodka
1/2 ounce of white rum
1/2 ounce of Peach Schnapps
1/2 teaspoon peach-flavored water enhancer
6 ounces of club soda
1/2 cup ice
- Add the bourbon, vodka, white rum, Peach Schnapps, and water enhancer to a cocktail shaker, and shake until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the mixture into a glass, and add the club soda.
- Serve immediately over ice.
12. Bloody Mary Keto Cocktail
A Bloody Mary doesn’t actually require a lot of change to become a keto-friendly drink. For that reason, this cocktail is great for everyone, whether you’re practicing low-carb or not.
6 ounces of tomato juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons vodka
3 drops Worcestershire sauce
3 drops hot sauce
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Add the tomato juice, lemon juice, and vodka to a glass, and stir until mixed.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, celery salt, and pepper, and stir again until thoroughly mixed.
- Add ice cubes, and serve immediately with your choice of garnish.
Following a keto lifestyle isn’t always easy, but as you’ve seen, making small changes, like switching out sugar for artificial sweeteners, can transform adult beverages from yummy but high-carb concoctions to delicious, low-carb keto cocktails.
Looking for something to munch on while relaxing or entertaining? We’ve got an awesome list of keto snacks that will pair perfectly with your keto-friendly drinks.