A ketogenic diet focuses on low-carb, high-fat food and drinks. Alcohol doesn't necessarily fit well with that regimen because the average beer is filled with carbs and cocktails tend to rely on sweeteners. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy an adult beverage—it simply requires smart choices.
When it comes to alcohol and the keto diet, the biggest challenge is avoiding sugars in your cocktails. The sweetener is a key element in defining a cocktail; it comes in the form of syrups, juices, liqueurs, sodas, and straight-up sugar. This eliminates the majority of mixed drinks from a keto diet. However, some of these ingredients can be replaced with sugar-free alternatives.
The good news is that the base distilled spirits—brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and whiskey—are naturally zero-carb. Dry red and white wines are low-carb, and sugar-free sodas are also keto-friendly. At the bar, stick with naturally low-carb mixed drinks to avoid proclaiming to the world that you're on a diet. When making drinks at home, you can get creative with ingredient substitutions and expand your personal cocktail menu.
The most important thing to remember is moderation. Small amounts of alcohol will not throw most people out of ketosis, but everyone's different. Plus, some people think that a keto diet makes their hangovers more severe, and that's never a fun prospect. One of these low-carb drinks is a safe bet.
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Bourbon and Water
Whether you're home or out at the bar, straight liquor is a good choice for a keto diet. There's no need to worry about hidden sugars in a glass of brandy, rum, tequila, vodka, or whiskey, and you can enjoy them on the rocks or as a shot. You will find that the theory behind a simple bourbon and water opens up the spirit's bouquet of flavors to create a more enjoyable sipper for aged spirits.
A splash of water also dilutes the drink more than ice alone. This is important considering these liquors are strong and you want to keep alcohol consumption in check to maintain ketosis.
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Scotch and Soda
For a drink that lasts a little longer, top one of those zero-carb spirits with soda. Sparkling water, seltzer, and club soda are keto because they're generally sugar-free. Scotch and soda is a great way to enjoy whiskey, and it's a keto drink you can order at the bar.
In general, soda is among the trickiest drink mixers. Every brand is different, so it's wise to do some research before relying on any soda. Some are naturally unsweetened, and there are no-sugar options for things like tonic water. Diet versions of cola, ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, and even ginger beer are decent alternatives. Just watch out for artificial sweeteners that may not be great for your overall health.
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When you're in the mood for a martini, skip all of those fruity, creamy, and sweet options that adorn cocktail menus. Go for dry martinis instead. The classic gin martini is one of the best low-carb cocktails because there's no sugar in gin or vermouth and the total carb count is negligible.
Many of the martini's variations are equally keto-friendly. Go for the dirty martini, perfect martini, or Gibson when you want to change things up. There's also the vodka martini for those who don't enjoy gin, and nearly identical cocktails for brandy, rum, tequila, and whiskey.
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Dry and sparkling wines are low-carb (about 1 to 2 grams) and fit into a keto diet. Wine spritzers are a fun way to spruce up still wines because all you need is club soda or sparkling water. Adding a citrus garnish is a nice touch to this easy mixed drink.
Be careful to avoid picking up a sweet bottle by accident. For white wines, choose sauvignon blanc, pinot blanc or grigio, or chardonnay. Keto-friendly red wines include cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and merlot.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Many shooter drinks are too sweet to be keto, but the pickleback is perfectly savory. No adaptations are needed because all you need is a shot of Irish whiskey and a pickle juice back. It's a fantastic combination and such a popular drink that you can order it at many bars.
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Vodka soda is one of the most popular keto cocktails. While you can simply top a shot of vodka with club soda, give it a little more pizazz by adapting a vodka collins to your diet. The difference between the two is that the collins recipe adds lemon juice and simple syrup; the citrus can stay, but the syrup has to go.
To make any collins drink (no matter the base spirit) keto-friendly, either skip the syrup or use a keto sweetener. Monk fruit is a fantastic choice because it lacks that bitter aftertaste found in stevia and other options. You can even swap simple syrup's sugar out for granulated monk fruit to make keto simple syrup and use it in any cocktail.
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Liqueurs are often responsible for a cocktail's flavor. By definition, they're sweet distilled spirits, so liqueurs are a no-go for keto. That eliminates many cocktail recipes, but a few are possible if there's a viable substitution.
A drink like the brandy separator is defined by coffee liqueur, one of the bar's most-used liqueurs. While it's not sweet, you can replicate that rich coffee flavor with chilled espresso or cold brew coffee.
Many of these drinks have creamy variations—including the famous white Russian. Fortunately, heavy cream is keto and the perfect solution. Another option is to switch to plant milk, such as almond, cashew, coconut, or soy.
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Lemon Drop Martini
For the most part, fruity vodka martinis are out. They rely on sweeteners and sugar-heavy fruit juices that don't line up with keto. While ordering one at the bar is not a good idea because it will include sugar, you can make a zesty lemon drop martini at home. The key to this simple cocktail hack is to use sugar-free syrup.
Some commercial syrup makers have an excellent selection of sugar-free syrup flavors. With the variety of flavors, you may even be able to replace those sugary liqueurs. For instance, a sugar-free almond syrup is a decent substitute for amaretto liqueur.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Keto Hot Chocolate
Satiate your sweet tooth while preserving ketosis with a keto hot chocolate. It combines a keto sweetener, cocoa powder, and coconut milk to create a warm, sweet drink. Spiking it as easy as adding a shot of liquor. The best zero-carb liquors for hot chocolate are cognac, Irish whiskey, and aged rum. To give it some spice, try a serrano pepper and cinnamon-infused reposado tequila.
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Eggnog is a real treat among holiday beverages, but traditional recipes are not keto. With this keto eggnog recipe, you don't have to miss out on the festive drink. It uses an erythritol-based sweetener, almond milk, and heavy cream. Once it's made up, simply add your choice of brandy, rum, or whiskey.
Are Flavored Vodkas, Rums, and Whiskeys Keto?
While the base liquors are keto, there's no guarantee with flavored vodkas, rums, and whiskeys. It depends on how the distillery added the flavor. Some vodka brands use the real ingredient (e.g., citrus fruit, berries, etc.), while others use artificial flavorings (especially sweet vodkas). Quite often, sugar is added to marry the flavoring and alcohol, making a better-tasting product. This happens a lot with flavored brandy, rum, and whiskey. Coconut rum and cinnamon whiskey are almost always sweetened; you'll often find the word "liqueur" somewhere on the label. When choosing a flavored liquor, research the brand and pay close attention to the fine print because they can be deceptive. If you want more control, infuse liquor at home, though fruit infusions may have some of the fruit's natural sugars.