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by Lidia Ryan

In honor of Mardis Gras, we’ve reworked some authentic New Orleans cocktails that won’t undo your diet.  Click through to check out the light versions of some classics as well as some new ones that are fun and colorful enough to get you into the spirit.


You can’t celebrate Mardi Gras without a Hurricane. The pretty color and fun garnish make it hard to resist, but you might want to refrain from indulging in this sugary bomb. Stay strong with this modified low-sugar recipe.

Traditional recipe

Ingredients: ·2 ounces light or dark rum (pick your favorite) ·2 ounces passion fruit juice ·2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice (extra to make up for lack of sugar) ·splash of pomegranate juice for color ·juice of half a lime ·Orange slice for garnish

Directions: ·Squeeze lime into a cocktail shaker over ice ·Add rest of ingredients and shake ·Pour into hurricane glass and garnish with orange slice

french 75

A French 75 is an elegant classic that, luckily, isn’t too hard on your diet; just skip the simple syrup.

Traditional recipe

Ingredients: ·1 ounce gin ·½ ounce lemon juice ·5 ounces champagne

Directions: ·Pour gin and lemon juice into a champagne flute ·Top off with champagne ·Garnish with lemon peel

ramos gin fizz

This is a classic New Orleans cocktail choc full of calories that come from heavy cream and an egg white. Unfortunately you can’t stay true to this drink without the texture of these two ingredients, which, when shaken up vigorously, create a fun fizz. But here’s how you can get the right taste and a similar look without making the drink a meal in itself.

Traditional recipe

Ingredients: ·¼ cup gin ·1 tablespoon simple syrup ·1 tablespoon lemon juice ·1 tablespoon lime juice ·4 drops orange flower water ·Orange slices ·Club soda

Directions: ·Fill a tall glass with finely crushed ice ·Shake the gin, juices and simple syrup in a shaker ·Pour over the ice ·Top off glass with club soda ·Garnish with orange slices

fresh strawberry daiquiri

Daiquiris don’t have to be off limits for your diet. In fact, St. Lawrence in New Orleans serves up classic Nola cocktails including fresh fruit daiquiris. You can easily make your own at home.

Recipe source

Ingredients: ·1 cup Fresh strawberries ·2 ounces fresh orange juice ·2 ounces light rum

Directions: ·Blend all ingredients until smooth

pimm’s cup

While this is actually a British drink, it has become a New Orleans staple. Here’s how you can cut down a little on the sugar.

Traditional recipe

Ingredients: ·1 ¼ oz. of Pimm’s #1 ·1 ounce lemon juice ·Club soda ·Symple syrup ·Lemon and cucumber slices

Directions: ·Combine Pimm’s, lemon juice and soda ·If it’s too tart for your liking, add a bit of simple syrup ·Pour over ice and garnish with lemon and cucumber


Luckily, the most authentic New Orleans cocktail is pretty diet-friendly. Considered America’s first cocktail, the Sazerac was invented in the French Quarter in 1838.

Recipe source

Ingredients: ·1 cube sugar ·1½ ounces (35ml) Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon ·¼ ounce Herbsaint ·3 dashes Peychaud’s BittersLemon peel

Directions: ·Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice ·In a second Old-Fashioned glass place the sugar cube and add the Peychaud’s Bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube ·Add the Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon to the second glass containing the Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar ·Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint, then discard the remaining Herbsaint. ·Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel.

milk punch

For a day-after hair of the dog, New Orleans’ classic brunch drink is milk punch.  Made with whole milk or cream and two types of liquor, it’s not exactly diet-friendly, so here’s a lighter version.

Traditional recipe

Ingredients: ·1.5 ounce bourbon or brandy ·2 ounces low-fat or non-fat milk ·1/8 of an ounce vanilla extract ·Honey to taste ·Nutmeg

Directions: ·Whip the honey into the milk with a fork until it’s combined ·Shake the milk, bourbon, and vanilla in a shaker with ice ·Strain into a glass and garnish with nutmeg


This version of a mudslide is not only better for your diet because it omits the milk and the chocolate syrup; but don’t worry, there’s still flavor aplenty.

Recipe source

Ingredients: ·¾ of an ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream’ ·¾ of an ounce Kahlua ·¾ of an ounce vodka

Directions: ·Mix ingredients together and pour over ice


This low-cal version of a mojito is only 69 calories, so bottoms up!

Recipe source

Ingredients: ·1 ½ ounces light rum ·7 large mint leaves ·1 tsp sugar ·half a lime ·2/3 of a cup cold green tea

Directions: ·Squeeze lime into a glass ·Muddle sugar and 6 mint leaves in the glass ·Add ice and pour tea and rum ·Garnish with last mint leaf

red-headed skinnygirl™

Bethenny Frankel knows her guilt-free cocktails. Here’s a festive one perfect for Mardi Gras.

Recipe source

Ingredients: ·2 parts Skinnygirl™ Tangerine Vodka ·1 large muddled strawberry ·Splash of orange juice ·Splash of club soda

Directions: ·Combine vodka, strawberry and orange juice over ice and stir. ·Top with club soda. ·Garnish with fruit

champagne and bitters cocktail

Louisiana prides itself on being the home of Peychaud’s Bitters, which were developed in New Orleans in the 19th century. NOLA is also big on champagne (especially with brunch), so this low-sugar version of a classic champagne cocktail is perfect for Mardi Gras.

Traditional recipe

Ingredients: ·Bitters ·Champagne ·Dash of fresh orange juice to sweeten ·1 Twist Orange

Directions ·Add orange juice and bitters into a chilled champagne glass ·Top up with champagne ·Garnish with orange