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23 Low-Alcohol Drinks To Order Instead Of Hard Liquor

Delicious drinks without the hangover.

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If you want to ease off the booze, but don't want to go teetotal for the night, low-ABV drinks are your guy.


Vermouth, sherry, port and beer cocktails are your new low-ABV BFFs.

Plus fun fact: Rather than doing Dry January, it's much better to just try to lower your overall alcohol in-take in general. So subbing in a few low-ABV options for your regular drinks can be a healthier *lifestyle* choice than just going cold turkey for a set period of time!

We asked a bunch of bartenders and industry experts for their best low-ABV drinks to get started on.

Universal Pictures

Sophisticated, tasty, exciting drinks, with a low enough ABV to leave you feeling great both during the night and the morning after.

Here's what they suggested.


1. An Americano.

"This drink is just equal parts amaro and sweet vermouth, built over ice and topped with soda. It's like a Negroni with soda to make it even more refreshing; the perfect balance of bitter and sweet. Plus, with this aperitivo, you can drink it before dinner and still be able to make good conversation afterwards."

– Barry Oattes, owner of Kelvingrove Cafe, Glasgow

2. A spiked Arnold Palmer.

tracy benjamin / Via Flickr: shutterbean

"At Soul Store West, we make a delicious Arnie Palmer spiked with sherry, called the "Long John Daly Cooler". It's half earl grey and half lemonade, with sherry, lemon and maple syrup added – the dry fruit notes and hints of wood in the sherry make it a great alternative to rum. Order it at your local bar, or it's easy to make at home as well."

– Aaron Chick, bar manager at Soul Store West, London

3. An alternative G&T.

Instagram: @jaaamjaam

"Nothing says summertime like a G&T (or vodka and tonic if you're so inclined). For a low-ABV alternative, switch out the spirit for a fortified wine like sherry (the She&T) or white port. Look for a crisper dry sherry like Fino or Manzanilla for an almost savoury tipple that's the perfect alternative for a G&T as summer approaches."

– Emma Stokes, creator of Gin Monkey, London

4. An Addington.

Instagram: @fe

"The Addington is a lost classic: Classic because it dates to the 1920s, and lost because vermouth fell out of favour. Vermouth is back, and it is time for a rediscovery.

"Fresh vermouth is the secret to a great Addington. Also good vermouth will make a huge difference. I like Cocchi Vermouth di Torino with Martini Dry in mine. To make, just combine 1:1 sweet vermouth and dry vermouth over ice, stir and strain into a chilled glass. Top with sparkling water and garnish with an orange twist; You can also serve this drink on the rocks or as a highball, but it is best served like a martini."

– Jared Brown, master distiller at Sipsmith, the Cotswolds


5. Campari and soda.

Jonathan Rieke / Via Flickr: jonathanrieke

"Pre-bottled Campari and soda is widely available throughout Italy, and when I visited Milan last year I made sure that I was well stocked for my train journeys, walks etc. If you can't find the bottled stuff though, any bartender can knock a glass together, and it's ridiculously simple to make it at home by yourself: just mix together Campari and soda in a tall glass with ice and a slice of orange."

– Jamie Baxter, director and master distiller at 45 West Distillers, Leicestershire

6. Ginger ale and vermouth.

Instagram: @claudia

"We’re all searching for a low-ABV long drink that we can sit back and drink all day. At Sacred, we make a "Dry Vermouth Buck" (ginger ale, a shot of vermouth and a little lemon juice served over ice) that ticks all those boxes, and isn't too sweet.

"You can use any good dry vermouth in your ginger ale, but our Sacred English Dry is heavy on thyme, which really compliments the ginger notes, and it contains no sugar for a wonderfully tart finish. If you're making up a jug at home, serve with a sprig of mint and a slice of lemon."

— Alexander Jeffreys, development bartender at Sacred Microdistillery, London

7. A Bellini. / Via Flickr: gusf

"Giuseppe Cipriano created this drink at Harry’s Bar in Venice, in 1945 and it's now spread all over the world. A very simple sparkling cocktail made with peach puree and Prosecco, it's refreshing, fruity and very easy to drink.

"As peaches are seasonal, you can always substitute them for another fruit puree at home. White peaches are in season in Italy from May to September, so in Venice certain bars that insist on using fresh peaches rather than frozen puree will only sell the drink between May and October."

– Kisa Alicat, bartender at Bokan, London

8. A lemon lime bitters.

Instagram: @viola

"As far as low-ABV cocktails go this one sets the limbo bar. A long refreshing mix of lemonade, fresh lime (or cordial if thats your thing) and Angostura bitters, it's an Aussie classic you should be able to order anywhere – Bundaberg even do their own bottled version. The citrus and bitters provide just enough aromatic complexity to quench those tastebuds while keeping you on the A1 to be the designated driver."

– Marion Edmond, bartender (formerly El Camion), Edinburgh


9. A low-ABV Gin Fizz.

Isabelle Boucher / Via Flickr: polkaroo

"We make a lower-ABV gin called Minus 33, that's packed full of flavour and lighter too. Substitute it into any gin cocktail to bring down the alcohol content, but if they don’t have it at the bar, just ask for a 37.5% ABV gin instead (not as low-ABV as ours but lower than average).

"A great one is the classic Gin Fizz: mix a shot of Minus 33, a double of freshly squeezed lemon juice (although the bottled stuff will do) and a single measure of agave or sugar syrup. Shake over ice, strain into a champagne flute, top up with soda and garnish with your choice of fruit. At 0.8 units and 131 calories, it’s low ABV and low cal."

— Sam Trett, proprietor at Minus 33, Rosyth

10. A Spritz.

Instagram: @cravefairfield

"The Spritz originated in the Austrian alps on the Italian boarders, with its name coming from the German word spritzen, a drink which is to all intents and purposes what we know in the UK as a spritzer – wine and soda. Add a splash of Milanese aperitivo, and you've got the Milano Spritz.

"I like to intensify the flavours and add a little richness to the classic with a shot of Aperol, and a teaspoon each of elderflower liqueur, Picon Bière (bitter orange aperitif from Southern France) and a fruit red wine. Serve this variation with wild strawberry and a few drops of orange flower water if you have it."

– Richard Hunt, owner of Trailer Happiness and The Mint Gun Club, London

11. Sangria.

Jesse Loughborough / Via Flickr: sunface13

"This is a fantastic little drink with years of history – anybody who’s found themselves on holiday in Spain (or indeed visited a tapas bar anywhere in the world!) will have tasted the inimitable Sangria. To make it yourself, chop apples, oranges, a lemon and a bunch of grapes and add sugar. Allow the sugar to cover said fruit for as long as you'd like (the longer, the more intense the fruit flavour will be). Add orange juice, Spanish brandy, a little orange liqueur, a bottle of spanish red wine and stir, before chilling with as much ice as you can fit in and topping with sparkling water!

"What makes this drink so beautiful are the limitless opportunities for personalisation: you can choose just how 'low-ABV' it is, simply by adding more or less of the brandy, sparkling water and orange juice. Most bars you visit will have their own version, so be prepared to try something slightly different each time you order it."

– James Bowker, bartender at The Edgbaston, Birmingham

12. A Sherry Woo Woo.

"Every bar will know how to make a Woo Woo – just have them sub out the hard liquor for sherry. Our version is a shot each of dry vermouth (ideally Cinzano for the full 80s vibe), fino sherry and peach schnapps, topped with cranberry juice. I like this drink because it's insanely quaffable – and you can drink them all night without falling over. Plus it's a ridiculously delicious twist on a terrible 80's cocktail."

– Felix Cohen, owner of Every Cloud bar, London


13. A Kalimotxo.

Instagram: @arotapas

"With a recipe of half Coca Cola, half red wine, many may call the Kalimotxo sacrilege. Popular in the Basque region of Spain, it's best made with cheap and cheerful Spanish reds – don't waste your best plonk on this. Half the ABV of a glass of wine (with a little caffeine hit from the coke), it's a perfect drink for a long night."

– Holly Willcocks, bar manager at Meatmission, London

14. A Michelada.

Instagram: @elpescadorcarson

"Pronounced MEE-chuh-lah-dah, this beer-based drink was born around the Texas/Mexico border in the early 1990s when "the wall" was just a fence. Use a lime wedge to wet the rim of a beer glass. Invert the glass in a saucer of celery salt to create a salt rim (add some pimento for colour if you like). Fill the glass with ice. Combine Worcestershire sauce, pepper, lime juice and Tabasco sauce in the glass. Add lager. Stir gently and garnish with a jalapeño slice to impress your friends.

"Optional extras include Bovril, Clamato Juice, Maggi seasoning, miso paste, and just about any other savoury or spicy ingredient in the kitchen – order it at your bar and see what their version includes."

– Jared Brown, master distiller at Sipsmith, the Cotswolds

15. Elderflower and Prosecco.

Amber DeGrace / Via Flickr: ink_mama

"I’ve always been a mimosa fan but recently have been known to have some cloudy (always cloudy!) apple juice and a small splash of elderflower cordial in my Prosecco. It’s the perfect spritz to be drunk all day!”

– Rachael Frame, Owner at Tiger Hornsby, Newcastle

16. An Aperol Sour.

Instagram: @dragutzan_andrei

"The simple, summery Aperol Sour is a fusion of the famous bright orange Italian bitter Aperol with bittersweet vermouth. I call my version Il Sorso D’estate (The Summer Sip), and combine 30ml of Aperol and 30ml of Contratto Bianco vermouth with a little lemon (15ml), sugar syrup (10ml), egg white (20ml) and a few dashes of Peychauds bitters. Shake up with ice, then without ice and strain into a flute for a thick, foamy drink. It gives a tongue-tingling effect without the hazy aftermath that comes with quaffing numerous spiritous libations."

– Philip David, store manager at The Distillery, London


17. Byrrh and bitter lemon.

Mon Œil / Via Flickr: claveirole

“A double measure of Byrrh & bitter lemonade is always delicious. The sweet Ribena-like flavour of the Byrrh really travels with the bitter lemon, which keeps it from being cloyingly sweet. Lots of ice is the key to this drink and a big wedge of citrus like lime or grapefruit.”

– Molly Ross, Bar Manager at Harborne Kitchen, Birmingham

18. A Sgroppino.

Bar Swift

"This is a classic Venetian drink, which has become one of the signature serves in Swift's upstairs bar. A fresh, crisp palette cleanser of a drink, it also has indulgence of a dessert thanks to the sorbet. To make ours, we combine Prosecco with 10 ml of Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto*, but this could be any spirit of your choosing (it's often vodka), before adding a scoop of lemon sorbet, and garnishing with lemon zest."

– Edmund Weil, co-owner at Bar Swift, London

*Editor's note: This is a divine rose and bergamot Italian spirit, 100% recommend.

19. Fernet and coke.

Jesús Dehesa / Via Flickr: jesusdehesa

"Fernet Branca is an Italian amaro, bitters-type aromatic grape-based spirit which has flavours from herbs, spices and other bits and bobs including aloe and a shed load of saffron! You'll find it at most bars, and mixed with coke it makes for a refreshing drink that's full of character, but won't get you cross-eyed. There's a good reason that this drink is growing in popularity, and is currently the most popular drink in Argentina!

"FYI, Fernet also goes great with a cheeky double espresso after a big feed."

– Josh Linfitt, brand ambassador at Scapegrace, London

20. OJ & Campari.

Instagram: @themanortlv

"Campari and orange juice has to be my all-time-favourite, and the one drink International Bartenders Association say cures a hangover."

– Ali Reynolds, brand ambassador at Diageo, London


21. A Port Flip.

Instagram: @mixedorneat

"This drink, a blend of a whole egg, port, sugar and cognac, might be light on ABV, but it's about as rich and decadent as it gets. Think of creamy soft-serve port ice cream and you're getting close to the experience of a port flip. Also, try making it with sloe gin in place of the port."

– Jared Brown, master distiller at Sipsmith, the Cotswolds

22. A Sherry Cobbler.

Emma Cooke / BuzzFeed

"With a history going back to the early 19th century, the cobbler consists of a shot and a half of sherry, and 10 ml of lemon, sugar, orange juice and pineapple juice, built over ice and garnished with citrus fruit and berries. It's a perfect low-alcohol drink; refreshing and indulgent, it looks a million dollars, and the dryness of the fino sherry still transmits a pleasant bite to the drink. Whilst I would drink this anytime, it's perfectly suited to the summer when berries are in season."

– Edmund Weil, co-owner at Bar Swift, London

23. A Diplomat.

Instagram: @janecryan

"Like all good diplomats, this cocktail is all about equal opportunities, made with one part sweet vermouth and one part dry vermouth. Add a dash of angostura bitters and a dash of orange bitters, and then the staple alternative to sugar when adding sweetness: a spoon of Maraschino liqueur. Then just stir over ice and serve straight up. If balance is the key to happiness then The Diplomat is campaigning for your right to enjoy, responsibly."

– Jay Doy, bartender at Blind Pig, London