You might click this blog post open and ask yourself, why should I even bother switching to stevia if I’m planning on drinking cocktails anyway? Aren’t alcoholic drinks bad by default? Well, you may have a point. Don’t dismiss the idea entirely, though. For one thing, what if you really enjoy cocktails? These healthy bourbon cocktail recipes might actually be good for you – in moderation, of course – and paired with stevia, instead of the usual sweeteners, you can increase their health benefits.
First things, first: Low-Calorie Options. Yes, it’s a known fact that if you want to celebrate with some family or friends, beer is a common staple, but it is also often heavy in calories. Plus, you’ll need to down several bottles before you get a moderate buzz going. Cocktails, on the other hand, are generally low-calorie and have a higher alcohol percentage, which means you don’t need to drink gallons in order to have fun.
What is good to mix with Bourbon?
If you are thinking, well, maybe I shouldn’t enjoy flavorful drinks to keep it on the healthier side. You can’t be more wrong. Flavor can be good for you. Go for vodka, gin, or bourbon. These drinks are rich and full of flavor.
Vodka, for instance, only has 96 calories per 50 ml – and that’s considered a large shot. Gin and bourbon only contain around 100 to 110 calories per 50 ml (check specific brand labels).
These drinks pack a punch, and with the recipes in this post, we’ll show you how to elevate their flavors by mixing them up with various healthy ingredients.
Citrus fruits go well with cocktails. And there’s no denying the number of nutritional benefits they add to the drink. In this article, we use lots of lemons, limes, oranges, and other fruits. These are brimming with vitamin C and antioxidants and the best way to get this goodness is to stick with fresh fruit and juice.
Best Bourbon Cocktail Recipes
These alternative recipes aren’t designed to cut down the happiness and downgrade the cocktails into health drinks. In fact, the exact opposite is what’s being accomplished. By replacing the bad with the good, we can ensure that everyone can enjoy these classics and favorites without having to worry excessively about sugar content, calorie count, and other wellness-related woes.
For those who prefer non-alcoholic beverages, we’ve also included a section for healthy, Stevia-based, non-alcoholic drinks!
Hope you enjoy reading and mixing your own cocktails and beverages at home!
The Best Sugar-Free Bourbon Base Cocktails
1. Sugar-Free Mint Julep
An oldie but definitely still a goodie, the mint julep is a refreshing drink that’s perfect when you’re on vacation, or just taking a break after a long day. Our stevia version is healthier because it contains zero sugar. Liquid stevia makes it even easier to whip up this drink because you won’t need to cook a batch of sugar into syrup.
- 5 to 10 drops of Liquid Stevia
- 2 mint sprigs
- 60 ml bourbon
- Crushed ice
- Take out half the leaves from the sprigs and place them in a cocktail glass.
- Fill up the glass with crushed ice.
- Pour the bourbon over the ice.
- Use the remaining mint sprigs as garnish.
2. Sugar-Free Classic Old Fashioned Cocktail
This is another classic cocktail that makes use of premium bourbon. This is made with Stevia instead of sugar and makes use of bitters. Feel free to change the bitters as you prefer. You may also substitute bourbon with rye whiskey.
- 60 ml bourbon
- 1/32 tsp Stevia Powder
- 2 to 3 dashes of bitters of your choice
- Cocktail cherries or orange slices for garnish
- Ice cubes
- Mix the whiskey, stevia, and bitters in a glass.
- Add ice cubes and use a bar spoon to stir and chill the drink.
- Strain the drink into a rocks glass with ice.
- Top with an orange slice or cherry.
3. Winter-Spiced Old Fashioned
We love the old-fashioned, so here’s another version of this fan favorite. This one has a bit more zest to it because of the orange juice. By muddling the fruit into the glass, you’ll notice a more welcoming vibe. The result is a sweet and refreshing drink that’s just the right amount of strength. You can substitute whiskey in place of bourbon.
- 2 tsp Stevia Powder
- 1 cup water
- 350 ml sweet bourbon
- 1 orange, cut into slices
- 1 star anise
- 3 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 8 cherries
- Ice cubes
- 4 cinnamon sticks (optional) for garnishing
- Place stevia, water, cardamom pods, star anise, and 1 cinnamon stick into a saucepan. Over medium heat, simmer until you form a syrup.
- Let it boil, then put the lid on. Remove from the heat. Let it steep in its own juices for half an hour. Strain the spices so you end up with pure syrup.
- Let it cool completely. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Place equal amounts of cherries and oranges into 4 glasses. Muddle together.
- Pour the cold syrup, bourbon, and ice cubes into a shaker. Mix well.
- Serve the drink into the glasses. Garnish with orange wedges and cinnamon sticks, if preferred.
4. Bourbon Milk Punch
The first thing you might think of is – How can this be a punch without any fruit component? You are absolutely right, but if we go deep into technicality, “punch” comes from the Sanskrit word “pañc”, which means “five” — as in, in most cooking cases, five ingredients. Either way, you’ll enjoy this punch, we guarantee!
- 3 ¾ tsp Stevia Powder
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups cream
- 1 cup bourbon
- ½ vanilla bean
- Nutmeg, grated
- Whisk stevia, milk, cream, and bourbon in a metal bowl until frothy.
- Add the vanilla bean. Use a fine-mesh strainer to strain it finely into a pitcher.
- Chill the freezer for half an hour, stirring every so often.
- Pour into glasses. Garnish with grated nutmeg.
5. Bourbon Apple
This recipe is not often mixed in bars, but we find its flavor to be uniquely addictive. It has the right amount of spice, heat, and tart sweetness from the perfect marriage of apple, lemon, ginger, and pepper. Of course, the bourbon makes it all better.
- 30 ml ginger syrup*
- 60 ml bourbon
- 30 ml apple juice, unfiltered
- 30 ml lemon juice
- Black pepper (a few cracks)
- Apple ball for garnishing
- 2 tsp stevia powder
- 1 cup water
- 60 ml ginger
*Ginger Syrup: 2 oz. of ginger to 1 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water. Simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool. Strain. Store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
- Make the ginger syrup by simmering the ginger, stevia, and water together for 15 minutes. Strain and chill for two weeks in the fridge.
- Once all ingredients are ready, mix them all in a cocktail shaker.
- Pour in a rocks glass. Use an apple ball to garnish.
Cocktail Preparation Tools
You’ve come this far, so you are probably serious about making cocktails at home, right? If you aren’t new to this and are merely making the leap to Stevia, then cheers to you!
However, if you are a beginner at making cocktails in general, don’t worry – it can be fun as much as it is delicious. To know the basic (and not so basic) tools you’d want to have around in the bar, here’s a list of essential cocktail preparation tools for you.
A jigger is a tool for measuring liquid. While expert bartenders often measure by “eye” and need no tool to estimate liquids, it’s still best to have one – especially if you are no bartender. Accuracy is essential in making drinks, just as it is in baking. Adding a wrong amount of one ingredient can destroy the intended flavor of the whole drink.
Shakers do what you think they do. You use them to mix drinks that require shaking. Some come with built-in strainers, making the process even easier. You can also use the glass half as a mixing glass. This is a classic tool and is a definite must-have.
The strainer is used after shaking drinks. You have to strain (some) cocktails as you pour them to their final vessel: a cocktail glass. It also works well when you need to strain some flavor-enhancing ingredients that shouldn’t make it to the final drink (herbs, seeds).
Stirring a drink is as much a necessary step as it is a satisfying act of “Oh, this? Yeah, I mixed this drink all on my own and now it’s ready.” Go for a good quality spoon. Try to stay away from lightweight ones made of cheap material, as they can break easily. Some bar spoons are designed with “hammers” on their ends, which can be used as muddlers (more on this below).
A muddler can come in different materials: wood, metal, and even plastic. If your bar spoon has a muddler end you won’t need to purchase a separate one. A muddler is necessary to mash or pestle (verb: muddle) ingredients at the bottom of your glass to release their flavor. This often applies to spices, herbs, and fruits.
A lot of cocktails need citrus juice. And while you can get your juice elsewhere, the best drinks use the freshest ingredients. Stock up on fruits, and have a good citrus juicer on hand. These come in a variety of materials, such as porcelain, glass, and steel. There are juicers that can handle either one or more pieces of fruit at a time, depending on the model and size.
So many drinks require bitters — you can encounter these in several of our recipes later. There are various types, but we found that orange bitters in particular are the most used. You can go with any brand of your choice, as long as the quality is good. You can store bitters for a long period of time, as long as they’re kept in a warm, dry place.
Bartenders will tell you that keeping club soda and tonic around can be challenging, especially when buying large cans or bottles because they get flat quickly after opening. That’s why we recommend smaller cans. Just buy a 24-pack if you’re serving a crowd. Store the cans in the fridge if you want.
Of course, you’ll need to serve cocktails in some sort of glassware. The bottom line is: you’ll want to own a good rocks glass (often called an Old Fashioned glass). It is a versatile piece.
You don’t need different cocktail glasses, as long as you pick one that’s durable and sits comfortably in your hand. Go for one that can fit a nice ice cube in it.
Extra Tools (AKA: The Non-Essentials, But Great to Have)
Since you have a juicer around, it only makes sense to have a peeler too. Some drinks call for fresh fruit flesh, and while you can use any knife to remove the skin, a peeler will do a better and easier job.
You typically won’t need this if you have a jigger, since you can use its glass portion as the mixer. But then again, if you like the classy act of mixing drinks in a glass, go for it.
If you love juleps, you’ll want to have one. This kind of strainer is used together with a mixing glass – so get both instead of just one (it’ll make more sense). You can use any basic strainer to get the job done, though.
If a cocktail requires double straining (passing the drink through two strainers: usually a traditional one, followed by a fine mesh) before serving, you’ll want to have a mesh strainer. Typically, these are shaken drinks. This method ensures that no pulp, shards of ice, or cut-up herbs get into the final glass.