Drink Up, Holidays

The Healthy Holiday Bar Cart of Your Dreams

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Picture yourself at a holiday party. What are you holding? Maybe a beautiful, sparkly punch garnished with cranberries and a cinnamon stick?

‘Tis the season for holiday cocktails, but many of the standards are so sugary you’ll end up drinking tons of extra empty calories and likely wind up with a massive headache the next day.

Seriously, who wants to gain holiday weight because of too much eggnog or nurse a hangover headache because of one too many hot buttered rums?

RELATED: 5 Smart, Healthy Strategies for a Lean Holiday Season

In addition to subbing this non-dairy avocado nog for your regular nog, there is a solution: Stock a healthy holiday bar cart in advance. That way you can make lighter, low-sugar cocktails that still feel totally festive.

No, this won’t magically make alcohol good for you (sorry), but it will minimize the effects of your conscious indulgence. Vodka carefully distilled from organic corn and paired with a tea-based mixer, for example, is going to do way less damage than a frozen “candy cane” martini made with cheap liquor and packing 50 grams of sugar.

What’s more? A festive bar cart is the perfect addition to your holiday decor giving your Christmas tree a run for its money while rolling in the fun. Style it with pretty glassware and accessories, and add some greenery to make the space come alive.

Here we share how to create the healthy holiday bar cart of your dreams.

(Image: Shutterstock)

  • The Spirits

    (Image: Batiste Rhum)

    Prairie Organic Vodka and Gin

    Call it farm-to-tipple. Prairie makes its USDA-certified organic vodka and gin from organic corn grown by a co-op of family farmers in Minnesota and then distills the alcohol to taste. Happy farmers and soil means no pesticides, and a crisp, clean finish in your glass. The gin is especially smooth and fragrant—perfect for a holiday martini with a festive garnish.

    Batiste Rhum

    Did someone say hot, spiked apple cider? Get your cinnamon sticks and a bottle of Batiste rum ready for the perfect fireside cocktail. Batiste bills itself as the first “eco-positive” rum, thanks to a production process that involves steps like sequestering carbon with responsible sugar cane growing techniques and distillation powered by steam and solar energy. Since such care is taken in producing it, the final product is also super clean compared to other rums and spirits. For example, many varieties of rum are made from molasses that has gone through industrial processing, while Batiste is made only from their carefully grown cane sugar (without any additives).

    Casa Noble Organic Tequila

    Casa Noble makes its small-batch tequila from blue agave plants grown in rich, volcanic Mexican soil. As part of a purity-focused production process, the company harvests the plants by hand and ferments them using indigenous yeast instead of the industrial variety. The tequila you end up sipping in a cranberry-orange margarita is USDA-certified organic and oh-so-smooth.

    21 Seeds Tequila

    Speaking of that cranberry-orange margarita, another tequila option we adore is 21 Seeds tequila, which is all natural and infused with real fruit and botanicals. Created by two sisters and one BFF, and distilled by a female-owned and run distillery in Mexico, this award-winning tequila has so much to love about it. Flavors include Valencia Orange, Grapefruit Hibiscus and Cucumber Jalapeno. 

    Better Bubbly!

    No holiday cocktail setup is complete without a little bubbly, for either sipping from a coupe with a few festive pomegranate seeds or topping off cocktails that could use some effervescence. Look for organic and biodynamic bottles (or ask the helpful clerk at your wine store), which aren’t always labeled the way you would expect. For example, organic certifications are different in Europe. Many winemakers who use natural or biodynamic growing and bottling processes also choose not to undergo any sort of certification. If you ask and dig around, though, you can find standout bottles like this biodynamic French Extra Brut that’s totally affordable.

  • The Mixers

    (Image: Swoon)

    Swoon

    If making complicated drinks from scratch is not your thing, Swoon is a great alternative: a delish bottled mixer that totally eliminates the sugar bomb problem. In fact, the company’s mixers are sugar-free, since they’re sweetened with a mix of erythritol, monk fruit, and stevia. Stock a bottle of ginger lime or margarita mixer and then follow their simple recipes for quick holiday drinks, like the very-red Pomegranate Moscow Mule  or Santa Clausmopolitan. Or try making a Magic Mojito with a garnish of green mint and Swoon’s Cucumber Mint mixer.

    Avec Drinks 

    Avec makes mixers for the modern drinker. Created by two friends—who grew up in London and New York and got tired of the sugar-laden, unhealthy, tasteless mixers they encountered everywhere—they decided to create their own. The result? Delicious mixers made of real juice and natural botanicals like jalapeno, lemongrass and pomelo. Avec’s Jalapeno and Blood Orange Mixer contains just 2 grams of sugar per serving making it perfect for any holiday cocktail or mocktail you enjoy. Even better: The brand believes in building diversity into its business model, and is part of 1% for the Planet, an eco-conscious movement that looks to reduce waste and give back to Mother Earth. Sip on that!

    Owl’s Brew

    Owl’s Brew makes yummy, clean, artisanal boozy teas that are also gluten-free and vegan (bonus!). Their Spiced Chai and Cranberry Boozy Tea is a limited edition, seasonal flavor made from organic chai spices including cinnamon, ginger, clove and cardamon—finished with a splash of apple and cranberry.  They do add organic agave and brown sugar, depending on the tea, so no matter how clean, you still gotta watch the sugar.

    Kombucha

    Speaking of tea, kombucha makes for an amazing mixer. You could easily pair organic vodka with a lemon-ginger kombucha and garnish with a twist and dried ginger for a simple, delicious, gut-healthy drink.

    Citrus

    Winter is citrus season, and fruits such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons are essential to making healthy cocktails. They add whole food, vitamin-packed flavor (and also often aesthetic flair) to any glass.

  • The Supplies

    (Photo: Chef’n/Food52)

    Citrus Juicer

    You’re going to get way more out of that citrus with this Chef’n Citrus Juicer from Food 52, which happens to look super chic and sleek at the bar. Bonus: It comes in two sizes—one for lemons and limes, and another for oranges.

    Pretty Paper Straws

    These biodegradable holiday straws will dress up any drink while minimizing environmental impact.

    Garnish

    It’s easy to add antioxidants to your cocktails in the name of making them pretty: think fresh berries, sprigs of herbs such as mint and rosemary, and cinnamon sticks.

    Cocktail Shaker

    Invest in a classic, stainless steel cocktail shaker like this one, and you’ll be good to go. Or find a pretty gold-toned one if that’s more your metal!

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