Healthy Margaritas for Cinco de Mayo!

In anticipation for Cinco de Mayo, I am dedicating this post to the topic of healthier festive drinks. When I think of Cinco de Mayo celebrations, margaritas definitely come to mind. However, anytime that I am drinking a beverage other than water, I can’t help but to be mindful of how the calories and sugars add up. And they can add up very quickly. When it comes to liquor I try to stick with the clears. Luckily, margaritas can be made with silver tequila, which is clear! Clear liquors like silver tequila, vodka, gin and clear or white rum have less sugar compared to the darker liquors. So remember, the darker the liquor, the bigger the hangover. One serving of clear liquor will contain about 96-110 calories and no carbohydrates, but that’s just for the liquor without any mixers.

Most drinks have some sort of mix-ins. Depending on what is added to the drink, you could be consuming a lot of calories and sugar. A regular margarita can run upward of 300 calories. When dining out, margaritas can range between 500-700+ calories with 30-40+ grams of sugar… simply ridiculous! This means one margarita has about the same amount of sugar as 3 glazed donuts. Well that’s just not going to cut it for me!

So what am I getting at? The point that I am trying to make is to be smart about your alcohol consumption. Remain mindful of what and how much you are drinking.

Without further ado, here is how to healthify the classic margarita!

The Minimalist’s Margarita
1.5 ounces tequila (aka 1 shot)
¼ cup sparkling water
¼ cup lime juice
5-6 drops pure liquid stevia


But, how do I choose the tequila!?
Make sure you choose 100% agave tequila (“100% de agave”); otherwise, you could be drinking 49% fermented cane sugar. If you are going to drink tequila, drink tequila, not a blend of glucose, fructose and tequila. 100% agave tequila means that the alcohol is a direct result of the fermentation of the agave and only the agave; no sugar or other additives have been included to supplement the creation of the alcohol. Long story short, the result is better tasting tequila and less of a risk of a sugar headache or hangover in the morning.

But, how do I make the Minimalist’s Margarita!?
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3! Add tequila, lime juice, liquid stevia and water to a cocktail shaker. Shake for about 10 seconds to combine. Strain and serve over ice. Add a garnish if desired.

But, how do I use to garnish!?
Add a fresh lime or fruit slice, salt the rim of the glass or add a fresh mint sprig to jazz your drink up a bit.


But, what if I like to be fancy!?
Try adding 1-2 Tbsp fresh-squeezed orange juice. You can seriously cut some calories by choosing fresh-squeezed orange juice instead of Cointreau or Triple Sec, which add approximately 95-103 calories and 7-11 grams carbohydrates respectively. For a Minimalist’s Margarita makeover try adding 2 Tbsp orange juice, 2 Tbsp blood orange juice and about 5 or so drops of stevia to the recipe!

But, what if I like it fruity!?
Like a margarita with a lot of flavor? Try adding a fruit puree! I recommend mango, strawberry peach or watermelon, but any fruit would work depending on what you like. If your drink is too tart add some liquid stevia to add some sweetness and balance the flavor.

But, what if I like it real cold!?
Try these awesome frozen margarita recipes! All you do is blend together all the ingredients. Break out the Nutri-Bullet!

Watermelon Margarita
1.5 ounces tequila
1 slice watermelon
1 Tbsp lime juice
¼ cup crushed ice
5-6 drops pure liquid stevia


Frozen Strawberry Peacharita
1.5 ounces tequila
5 medium frozen strawberries
½ ripe peach, peeled and chopped or 5 frozen peach slices*
¼ cup crushed ice
5-6 drops pure liquid stevia
2 Tbsp lime juice (optional)
3 ounces sparkling water (optional)

*If you don’t have a peach on hand you can increase the strawberries to 1 cup to make a basic frozen strawberry margarita.


When drinking any type of alcohol it is important to remember that the worst offender is usually the mixers. Try to keep drinks as simple as possible. Avoid soda. Soda contains about 40 grams of sugar in a serving (that’s 10tsp of sugar… yikes!). The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 6tsp per day for women and 9tsp per day for men, which 1 can of soda exceeds.  I would also steer clear of diet soda and other diet beverages that are loaded with artificial sweeteners. These drinks have absolutely no nutritive value. The amount of sugar in these beverages is not good for your waistline and practically guarantees a sugar headache the morning after. Also avoid energy drinks. Red Bull can be a common mixer, but an awful one. A can of Red Bull contains 27 grams of sugar (7tsp of sugar) and Sugar-free Red Bull is no better since it contains not one, but two artificial sweeteners: aspartame and acesulfame potassium. Artificial sweeteners cause even more problems, but that’s a story for another day.

When consuming alcohol it is also extremely important to remember that alcohol affects everyone’s blood sugar differently. Alcohol can cause a person’s blood sugar to quickly drop, or it can cause blood sugars to spike and then drop. The more mix-ins and the more sweetened the drink, the more likely blood sugars will be up and down. Keeping blood sugars steady throughout the day is important for weight management, energy, mood and for controlling cravings for carbohydrates like sugary sweets. It is no wonder why some people have increased cravings and find themselves mindlessly eating after consuming a lot of alcohol.

How will you be celebrating Cinco de Mayo this year?

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Please remember to drink responsibly!

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About Gina
Gina Consalvo-Hassick, MA, RD, LDN, CDCES, NCC is a registered dietitian and is actively involved in various food and nutrition communities. She has counseled and assessed a wide range of patients and has experience in outpatient, inpatient, and consulting. Areas of specialization include weight management, eating disorders, and wellness nutrition.
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Gina Hassick,

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