‘Tis the season of tan lines, bug bites, beach adventures, OOO email replies (‘out of office’ if you missed that one) and the beloved happy hour. I love a good “five-o-clock somewhere” moment as much as the next person, but sadly, the concept of a cocktail can seem a little intimidating to those of us with limited to no pancreas functionality. The cheap ones are loaded with sweeteners, and the expensive ones with fresh ingredients are, well, expensive!

So what are some cocktails we can enjoy? I’ve tried a few libations myself to get the skinny on do’s and do not’s when it comes to blood-sugar friendly booze, so here are a few things to keep in mind:

Less is More 

Pure alcohol like vodka, tequila, bourbon and gin have little to no sugar or carbohydrates in them on their own, especially if you go for higher quality stuff that’s filtered more diligently. However, when you shake a bunch of pre-made mixers and processed frozen sweeteners into your cocktails you start to run into murky territory. When you’re reading a cocktail menu at a bar, or you’re on vacation, try to stick with drinks with limited additives or enjoy it on its own, neat, on the rocks or with a twist of lemon or lime (in moderation, of course). 

Mix It at Home

I love to experiment with making cocktails at home. In doing so, I’ve gained a lot of respect for a bartender’s craft, but more importantly, I’ve been able to test and learn about the ingredients that work well with my blood sugars. One drink I’ve been making a lot this summer because it’s light, refreshing and spicy is a twist on the skinny margarita. I’ve included the recipe below!

Stick to One Thing

If you’re like me, you want to taste everything on a fancy cocktail menu. However, this is a dangerous game when it comes to blood sugars. If you’re really trying to stay on top of what will and won’t impact your numbers, try to stick with one type of drink. Or, switch to something simpler than a cocktail after the first drink to help keep a smooth sugar sail all night long.

Okay, now for the fun part. Below is a breakdown of the carbs in popular summer drinks, plus a few cocktails that you can relax and enjoy without worrying too much about going double arrows up!

Spicy Margarita

Inspired by this recipe


  • 1.5 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice  (1 standard jigger)
  • 1/2 ounce Bees Knees Spicy Honey syrup (instructions below) 
  • 3 ounces blanco tequila (2 standard jiggers)
  • 1.5 ounces of orange juice (1 standard jigger)
  • Sliced jalepeño
  • Salt and lime wedge for garnish
  • Soda water 


  • Create a syrup out of the honey by heating it in 1/2 ounces of water. Whisk over low heat until you have a smooth liquid. Set aside 
  • Rub a lime wedge around rim of a rocks glass and dip in salt
  • Add lime juice and honey syrup to a cocktail shaker
  • Add tequila and plenty of ice. Shake vigorously until frosty 
  • Strain into a prepared rocks glass filled with more ice
  • Add a splash of soda water for some fizz
  • Garnish with a lime wedge, jalepeño for extra spice

Net carbs: ~8g

Gin & Tonic 

Inspired by this recipe


  • 1/3 cup ice (about 6-8 medium sized ice cubes)
  • 1.5 ounces chilled gin (1 standard jigger)
  • 1.5 ounces tonic water (1 standard jigger)
  • 3 ounces club soda or seltzer water (2 standard jiggers)
  • 1/4 freshly squeezed lemon
  • 1/2 freshly squeezed lime 


  • Fill a tumbler or glass with ice
  • Squeeze lemon and lime juice over the ice 
  • Pour in jigger of gin
  • Pour in tonic and seltzer/soda water and stir
  • Top with a sprig of fresh mint or basil for added refreshment
  • Stir, enjoy! 

Net carbs: <5g

Skinny Sangria

Inspired by this recipe


  • 1 bottle of Tempranillo or another light, red wine 
  • 1-2 cups of fresh strawberries 
  • 1 orange, sliced in rounds 
  • 16.9 ounce bottle of Sprite Zero
  • 1/4 cup of mid-shelf vodka (Tito’s is my fav!) 
  • Ice


  • Add fruit, wine and vodka to a pitcher and stir
  • Chill for 4-6 hours or overnight
  • Mix in Sprite before serving
  • Fill glasses with ice, pour the Sangria and garnish with orange slices

Net carbs: ~5g

Summery Beverage Carb Counts

Coors Light (5g)

Corona Light (5g)

Bud Light (6.6g)

Michelob Ultra (2.6g)

Spiked Seltzer/White Claw/Truly (5g/2g/2g)

Rosé (~3g/glass)

Sauvignon Blanc (~3g/glass)