Plenty of alcohol is imbibed before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, so it’s best to have a game plan regarding your beverage consumption.
New Year’s drinks can be made with or without alcohol and contain various added flavors and sugars. Deciding what aspects of a healthy drink are essential to you can help you choose New Year’s cocktails that make sense for your health goals—whether they are long-standing ones or aims you’re hoping to achieve in the new year.
Read on for the best healthy drinks for ringing in the new year, including non-alcoholic New Year's Eve drinks for those avoiding boozy beverages.
New Year’s Drinks: Healthy Sip Tips
New Year’s drinks are so iconic that clinking champagne glasses come to mind when many think of the holiday. However, many party drinks have excessive amounts of added sugar or alcohol that far exceed the recommended daily amounts for these substances.
Alcohol is a particular concern since it's easy to underestimate the amount you’re being served or how long the effects will last. The holiday season provides opportunities for extreme alcohol consumption, and moderation often goes out the window. Even casual drinkers can be pressured by holiday toasts and social situations to drink more than they are used to.
Unfortunately, the period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day accounts for some of the most dangerous drinking incidents. These incidents range from accidents, like falls or mild injuries, to more serious offenses, like driving under the influence (DUI) or alcohol-related deaths.
Even though alcohol is in constant flow, you don’t necessarily need to have a drink in your hand at all times. Whether you drink or not, the following tips can help you remain aware and create a safer and healthier atmosphere.
Remember, Drinks Have Calories, Too
An oft-forgotten fact is that drinks contribute calories to the diet, too. It’s helpful to remember that drinks still count as “liquid calories.” One serving of beer, wine, or liquor typically has 100-150 calories, if not more.
Sugary cocktails, in particular, can easily be 300-500 calories, with frozen mixes like margaritas or piña coladas being the worst offenders. Plus, some studies suggest that the sugar in alcoholic beverages can make the alcohol seem more delicious, making it likely that you’ll want to drink more.
It’s also helpful to know that alcohol has a unique calorie count of its own—7 calories per gram. That’s more than proteins and carbohydrates but slightly less than fat.
In other words, alcohol calories can add up quickly and easily, especially since drinks can be sipped quickly, one after the other.
Know Your Daily Limit
Regarding healthy holiday drinking habits, it’s helpful to keep recommended guidelines in mind. It’s recommended that men limit themselves to two drinks a day and women limit themselves to one drink.
When you’re prone to drinking more than one or two drinks, the general rule is to limit yourself to no more than one drink each hour. While this drinking pace will still remove some inhibitions, it will give your body a bit more time to process the alcohol.
When in doubt, avoid consuming closer to the recommended limit rather than aiming for an hour of drink.
Understand What Constitutes One Drink
With many different beverages available, knowing what “one drink” really is can be hard! The following amounts constitute “one drink” for various types of alcohol and can be used as a basic guideline (some unique alcohols may vary slightly from this framework):
•Beer: 12 ounces
•Wine: 5 ounces
•Liquor: a 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof spirits (such as tequila, whiskey, or rum)
You can always ask the host or bartender if you're unsure what's in a drink. Often, a bartender is familiar with (or can find out) the drink ingredients and can tell you details like ounces or alcohol by volume (ABV).
Enter The Party with a Game Plan
Even casual drinkers can be pressured by holiday toasts and social situations to drink more than they are used to. Walking in with a “game plan” or a good idea of how you want to approach the beverage situation can make different moments more manageable.
Decide before an event if you plan to consume alcohol or how many calories you want to consume from drinks alone. This can proactively set you up for a better party experience and make post-party guilt a less likely scenario.
One pre-determined example is choosing to alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. Beyond keeping alcohol consumption to a more manageable level, this can help keep you hydrated while also allowing you to experience other beverage options.
If it aligns better with your lifestyle preferences or simply makes you feel safer, you can choose to avoid alcohol altogether. If this feels like an “uncool” decision among your family or friends, you can volunteer to be the designated driver ahead of time. This position is often respected as “taking one for the team,” and you’ll be able to ensure your friends get home safely—and that the roads stay a bit safer, too!
Use Convenient Calculators
Additionally, the following calculators are two convenient tools to keep at your fingertips for in-the-moment decisions. They can be pulled up on your phone in a matter of seconds and help you figure out if another drink is a wise decision for your health (and those around you). C
heck these resources out ahead of time, so you’re familiar with them when you need them at a moment’s notice:
Focus on the Environment and Individuals
There’s so much more to an event than just the drinks being served, even though they can certainly elevate an event. In other words, the party doesn’t have to be all about alcohol.
Instead of obsessing over drinks, calories, or other aspects of your diet during a New Year’s party, focus on the festivities. Enjoy the company of the people around you, the excitement of the activities or games, or other offerings that have nothing to do with eating or drinking.
Select Your Glassware Wisely
The proper glassware can make anything seem fancy! When presented in a pretty glass, Sparkling water can become a more appetizing choice. Serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in champagne flutes can make guests feel special, regardless of their beverage preferences.
New Years Cocktails
Whip up these impressive lower-calorie cocktail recipes for your next New Year’s Eve party. It’s important to note that most of the essential recipes outlined below result in more than “one drink” since many New Year’s cocktails combine liquor and wine or combine multiple types of liquor.
Champagne cocktails are a New Year’s Eve classic. This bubbly beverage is a sparkling wine that provides the perfect base for many drinks.
For a fancy twist on basic champagne, try a limoncello spark, which combines 1 ounce of limoncello with about 5 ounces of champagne. Top with a twist of orange to make it look extra appealing—or a-peel-ing, if you’re looking for a pun!
French 75 Cocktail
The French 75 is another classic cocktail dating back to World War I. If you’re new to making cocktails, this is a great one. It’s a low-effort drink that can be whipped up in moments and contains approachable ingredients.
The basic recipe consists of just 1 ounce of gin, ½ ounce of lemon juice, ½ ounce of sugar or simple syrup, and 3 ounces of champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist as desired.
There’s debate about whether the original recipe contained cognac or gin, but alcohol aficionados suggest cognac during cooler weather for your winter sips. Although this drink is typically enjoyed at evening parties, it’s also well-suited for earlier celebrations like a New Year’s Day brunch.
If you’re looking for a cocktail that combines seasonal ingredients, there’s nothing better than a Sparkling Cosmopolitan at New Year’s. It contains 13 ounces of cranberry juice and 2 ounces of pear-flavored sparkling water, both made from fruits in season during late fall and early winter.
In addition to the juice and sparkling water, add 2 ounces of vodka (preferably a citrus-infused variety), ½ ounce lime juice (or lemon-lime soda), a splash of water, and then shake all ingredients. The garnish is up to you, but adding a couple of cranberries to a skewered toothpick emphasizes the star ingredient. Alternatively, a lime twist will give your glass the signature “Cosmo” look.
Fizzy Blueberry Mint Drink
Mint is well-loved during the winter, thanks to how its cool and refreshing characteristics mimic the winter weather. A fizzy blueberry mint drink is an excellent way to pay homage to this seasonal superstar ingredient, and the blueberries help create an all-natural purple hue. It looks as good as it tastes!
To create this cocktail, blend the juice of one lime and half an orange, 1 tablespoon of fresh mint, 1 teaspoon of agave nectar, and ½ cup blueberries (preferably fresh). Once blended until smooth, strain the mixture, discarding any solid pieces (like stems) you see. Finally, add one shot of vodka shake in a cocktail shaker with ice. Then, enjoy with a sprig of fresh mint for the garnish.
Non-Alcoholic New Year’s Eve Drinks
Offering a variety of drinks, including non-alcoholic juices, club soda, water, and mocktails, can help everyone to feel included. Plus, they provide party guests with an alternative option to alcohol, which can help them stay hydrated or sober up.
As an added bonus, many of these drinks are friendly for guests of all ages, from kids to older adults, wary of mixing alcohol and medications. These drink recipes will even entice alcohol drinkers to head to the mocktail table.
Dark & Stormy Mocktail
If you’re a fan of coffee but don’t want the added calories or intensity of coffee liqueur, a dark and stormy mocktail may be a good fit for you. On a night when you’re expected to stay up late, it’s a no-brainer!
Ginger beer kicks this intriguing drink— no alcohol necessary. Add 4 ounces of cold brew, 2 ounces of almond milk, and a dash of alcohol-free bitters to a cocktail shaker containing ice. Shake until combined, then strain. Then, add 2 ounces of ginger beer (ginger ale, in a pinch) and an orange slice for garnish.
Vanilla Blood Orange Spritzer
Blood oranges are a unique variety of orange that burst onto the scene in December. When sliced, they reveal a ruby-red inside, creating a stark visual contrast perfect for garnishing beverages. Beyond beautiful looks, the blood oranges also provide a slightly bitter (but not tart) taste to drinks and a pleasant, sweet, fruity flavor.
A vanilla blood orange spritzer rounds out any New Year’s mocktail menu well and is an excellent drink for those with a sweet tooth. The fruity flavors, vanilla, and honey that make up this mocktail create a naturally sweet flavor without the need for added sugars.
To make this sparkling spritzer, add 4 ounces of blood orange juice, 1 teaspoon of honey, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to a small saucepan over low heat. As the ingredients warm, stir until they are combined and the honey has dissolved.
Before drinking, allow the beverage to cool then serve it over ice and garnish with a blood orange slice.
Sparkling (or Non-Sparkling) Pomegranate Mocktail
Pomegranates are another fall and winter weather fruit that becomes popular around the holidays. They store well, so even though their growing season ends in November, they can also be stored and eaten in the following months. One source even calls them the “jewels of winter.”
This makes pomegranates a healthy holiday treat, perfect for pairing with many foods and drinks. Mocktails are no exception, and the burgundy hue of a pomegranate mocktail embodies the essence of the holiday. The drink looks remarkably similar to wine, so it’s excellent for non-alcohol drinkers who want to “blend in.” It’s also a kid-friendly drink; the juices can even help them meet their daily recommended fruit intake.
Add 2-4 tablespoons of pomegranate juice to a champagne flute to make a pomegranate mocktail. Then, fill it with white grape juice (regular or sparkling for a fun fizz), about 4 ounces.
Pomegranate seeds are an optional mix-in, and for a twist on this basic recipe, add a splash of lime juice to the drink and a lime wedge to the top for a more citrus-leaning flavor.
New Year’s Drinks: Takeaways to Toast To
With some forethought, you can choose New Year’s beverages that align with your healthy lifestyle. Whether you drink in moderation or avoid alcohol altogether, there are plenty of delicious options to make everyone feel included.
A cocktail or mocktail can fit into your healthy holiday diet! Understanding what constitutes “one drink” and your recommended drink limit can help you ring in the New Year happily and healthily.