Cocktails are fun to mix up, but many are heavy on the alcohol. When you're in the mood for an easy-sipping drink that doesn't pack a big punch, there are plenty of low-proof cocktail recipes to choose from. Unless you have one too many, your chances of getting drunk or suffering from a hangover are virtually zero.
Low-alcohol drinks mix up to 10 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 20 proof), give or take. That's about the same as a glass of wine and half the strength of boozy powerhouses like martinis and margaritas. Some are even lighter, about the strength of a beer. They typically feature low-proof liqueurs, wine, or beer, or a larger volume of nonalcoholic mixers like juice or soda.
Though these drinks are lightweights, they do not sacrifice flavor. Some are sweet, some dry, and all are refreshing in their own ways. They're great for casual days and perfect for brunch or any meal that deserves a light libation.
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When you want a tall, fruity highball, the bocce ball is a perfect candidate. To keep it light (8 percent ABV, 16 proof), choose the vodka-free version. This easy mixed drink is similar to a screwdriver but features amaretto as a backdrop to the orange juice. Making it a little more special, a splash of club soda lightens up the mix.
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Cranberry Ginger Shandy
Starting out with one of the lightest alcoholic beverages is the perfect way to create a low-proof drink. Beer is the key ingredient for any shandy, and this is a big-batch version intended to be shared with friends. Weighing in around 2 percent ABV (4 proof), it's a flavorful mix of wheat beer, ginger beer, and cranberry juice.
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Coffee cocktails are yet another great place to look for low-proof recipes. In fact, many offer more of a caffeine buzz than an alcohol one. For the lightest spiked coffees, look to those that feature liqueurs only, such as the café royal. All you need is a shot of a coffee liqueur to create a drink that's just 2 percent ABV (4 proof).
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The harder spirits can be found in low-proof drinks, too. You'll want to look for popular highball recipes that top a shot of an 80-proof liquor like whiskey with a good amount of soda, such as the whiskey highball. When made with 6 ounces of ginger ale, it's a mellow and refreshing 9 percent ABV (18 proof). Simply pour more soda or less booze when you want it even weaker.Continue to 5 of 14 below.
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Rosé Berry Bliss
A wine punch is a perfect low-alcohol option for parties. Yet, you do have to be careful because, as in the case of sangrias, many also include brandy or rum. A recipe like this rosé berry bliss is an ideal quick and light option. Since wine is the only alcohol in this sparkling lemonade mix, it weighs in at just 4 percent ABV (8 proof).
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Dry vermouth is a perfect dinner companion. While it's often paired with high-proof liquors in martinis, it shines on its own in the casual and surprisingly refreshing vermouth cassis. While a black currant liqueur adds sweetness, club soda gives it an exhilarating touch. It also ensures this 10 percent ABV (20 proof) drink will last from the appetizer through dessert.
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Banana Cream Pie
When it's time for dessert, few drinks can beat the delicious taste and ease of the banana cream pie. It's tastes exactly how it sounds and, if you're ambitious, you can include a graham cracker rim to complete the experience. The recipe's RumChata and banana liqueur mix up to a gentle 13 percent ABV (26 proof).
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The blushing rose is a beautiful pink cocktail. It's light, fruity and filled with a fantastic array of flavors. Featuring Ty Ku Liqueur, the blend of citrus fruits pairs perfectly with pomegranate juice and rose nectar. Better yet, the drink mixes up to just 6 percent ABV (12 proof).Continue to 9 of 14 below.
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The Friar Tuck is another cocktail that uses more cream than spirits, and it is a very tasty mix. Frangelico is a timeless hazelnut liqueur that's really enjoyable against the chocolate and cream. Generally, the finished Friar Tuck won't be much stronger than 11 percent ABV (22 proof).
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Smith & Kearns
Once you get past the fact that you're carbonating a creamy drink, the Smith & Kearns is actually a fantastic cocktail. The recipe averages out to a gentle 6 percent ABV (12 proof) and gives you the option of coffee or chocolate liqueurs so you can adjust it to your mood.
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The grasshopper is a favorite martini that is designed to satiate your sweet tooth. It's filled with chocolate and mint and has a tempting creamy base that is hard to resist. You'll love how easy it is to mix up and the fact that it weighs in at just 13 percent ABV (26 proof).
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Warm drinks are often heavily diluted and pleasantly mild, so they're a perfect choice for colder days. A recipe like the Christmas mule mixes up to just 9 percent ABV (18 proof), and you're sure to enjoy the soothing flavor of pear vodka and warm ginger beer with a hint of cinnamon.Continue to 13 of 14 below.
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Fresh-squeezed lemonade is a wonderful refreshment for summer parties, and the honey deuce is a wonderful way to enjoy it. For this 10 percent ABV (20 proof) cocktail, you'll spike the lemonade with a short shot of vodka. A little raspberry liqueur sweetens it up, and the honeydew melon balls are a fun finishing touch.
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Pear Spiced Sailor
Spiced rum is a nice base for autumn-inspired drinks. In the pear spiced sailor recipe, it's pitted against a pear puree and ginger nectar before the drink is topped off with ginger ale. There's definitely no lack of flavor in this 10 percent ABV (20 proof) drink.