Often referred to in the industry as low-proof or low-ABV (alcohol by volume), low-alcohol cocktails have become the choice of many. This more mindful class of mixed drinks is perfect for those who prefer to enjoy a drink on the lighter side. Made from lighter spirits like wine or amaro, they’re easy-drinking cocktails that range from refreshing spritzes to rich vermouth-based cocktails.
While there is no recognized industry standard for Low-ABV cocktails, they are typically characterized by being 15% ABV or below. Consider that the average glass of wine has an ABV between 10-15% and classic cocktails like a Martini, Negroni, and an Old-Fashioned range from 25%-37%. This makes these low-alcohol cocktails a perfect accompaniment to a casual evening, an aperitivo before a meal, or slowing down at the end of the night. From Lemon-Lime & Bitters to Aperol Spritz to Ranch Water, here are the best 12 low-alcohol cocktails to try.
View the complete collection of low-alcohol cocktails here.
1. Negroni Sbagliato
Sbagliato translates to “mistaken,” but there’s no mistaking this low-ABV cocktail as a deliciously light and refreshing spritz. Swapping gin for sparkling wine makes the Negroni Sbagliato a low-proof cocktail — a stark difference from its bracingly bitter namesake.
The Old Hickory has been a favorite for centuries. It’s a complex yet balanced low-proof cocktail. This lesser-known New Orleans cocktail mixes sweet vermouth and dry vermouth with bitters for an all-vermouth cocktail reminiscent of the stirred and served up Adonis.
This summer-time favorite is a thirst-quenching mix of tequila, lime juice, and soda water. Easy to enjoy year round with a relatively low ABV. Its simple format and refreshing qualities are comparable to a Whiskey Highball or Tom Collins. The Ranch Water recipe can easily be adjusted to suit your tastes.
A historic Japanese cocktail, the Bamboo, is an easy-drinking beverage made from equal parts fino sherry, dry vermouth, and two types of bitters. It’s a low-proof cocktail that looks and tastes delightfully sophisticated. Aptly described by cocktail historian, David Wondrich, “The Bamboo looks like a cocktail, tastes like a cocktail, and punches like a six-year-old.”
A lower ABV and lighter take on the Negroni, the Americano, is the thirst-quenching beverage of choice for many. The subtle sweetness of the vermouth and bitterness of Campari is topped with the perfect amount of fizzy soda water reminiscent of warm days in the Mediterranean.
Festive and low-proof, the Poor Richard is a blend of hard cider, sweet vermouth, cranberry cordial/grenadine, lemon juice, and nutmeg. Easily turned into a punch and is an ideal low-alcohol cocktail option for the holidays and entertaining.
Combining some of Italy’s favorite beverages, the Bicicletta is mellow, slightly bitter, and refreshing. Campari, dry white wine, and soda water mix to make a lovely aperitivo similar to its well-known counterparts, Americano, Aperol Spritz, and Negroni.
The White Negroni Sbagliato is a modern riff on the classic Negroni. It combines herbal Suze with bianco vermouth, which is sweeter than dry vermouth, and tops it off with sparkling wine. It’s a fresh and herbaceous aperitivo that’s a lighter alternative to the already fair White Negroni.
A low-proof cocktail list wouldn’t be complete without perhaps the most iconic Italian aperitivo, the Aperol Spritz. Created in Venice in 1920, it’s been delighting drinkers with its mix of bitter Aperol, Italian sparkling wine, and soda water. The drink manages to be both woodsy and delicate thanks to the balance of flavors. Its low alcohol content makes it ideal for sipping through the afternoon.
Balancing both dry and sweet flavors, the Adonis was created in the 1880s after the musical of the same name. Fino sherry, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters balance each other out nicely for an easy-to-drink low-proof cocktail.
The Hugo Spritz is for those looking for the refreshing crackle of a spritz without the usual bitterness of more popular variants. Made from prosecco, soda water, muddled mint, and elderflower liqueur, the Hugo Spritz is bright, herbaceous and pleasantly low-proof.
Saving the lowest proof for last, the Lemon-Lime & Bitters or more affectionately known LLB has a remarkably low ABV of 0.2% alcohol. Made with what the moniker suggests, it mixes lemon-lime soda, lime juice, and a few dashes of bitters. Considered the national drink of Australia, it’s refreshing and has well-balanced sweet and citrus flavors.