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 with a massive headache the next day.

Seriously, who wants to gain holiday weight because of too much eggnog?

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

In addition to making this non-dairy avocado nog instead, there is a solution: stock a healthy holiday bar cart in advance so 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 treating yourself. 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.

(Featured Photo: Shutterstock)

  • The Spirits

    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. That means no pesticides, happy farmers and soil, 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 soil in Mexico. The company hand harvests the plants and ferments them using indigenous yeast instead of the industrial variety as part of a purity-focused process. The tequila you end up sipping in a cranberry-orange margarita is USDA-certified organic and oh-so-smooth.

    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 stand-out bottles like this biodynamic French Extra Brut that’s totally affordable.

    (Photo: Batiste Rhum)

  • The Mixers

    Be Mixed

    If making complicated drinks from scratch is not your thing, Be Mixed 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 and then follow their simple recipes for quick holiday drinks like the very-red Cranberry Old Fashioned and the super-green Meet Your Matcha.

    Owl’s Brew

    Owl’s Brew makes yummy, clean artisanal mixers from organic tea and botanicals. They do add organic agave and brown sugar, depending on the mixer, so watch the sugar as you shake and stir.

    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 or pieces of dried ginger for a simple, delicious gut healthy drink.

    Citrus

    Winter is citrus season, and fruits like 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.

    (Photo: Be Mixed)

  • The Supplies

    Citrus Juicer

    You’re going to get way more out of that citrus with this Chef’n X Food52 juicer, which happens to look super chic and sleek at the bar.

    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 like 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.

    (Photo: Chef’n/Food52)

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