Salt & Wind Travel

Low-Alcohol Cocktails Are About To Become Your Go-To Summer Drinks

Our desire to sip a cocktail that is low in alcohol, otherwise known as a session cocktail, is directly proportional to the temperature.

The higher the thermometer climbs, the more we want to gather our closest friends, sit back and refresh with a summertime drink. 

When it’s hot out, we’re all about less is more (i.e. less sugar and less alcohol) when it comes to our cocktails, and that’s good news because there is a full-on Low-ABV (alcohol by volume) movement in effect. More specifically, the cocktail world is currently featuring drinks that have low-to-no alcohol but don’t skimp on creativity or refreshing, lively flavor.

This summer, we’re partnering with THE HOUSE OF ANGOSTURA® to bring the Low-ABV drink trend to your summer entertaining—be it a picnic, a cookout or an impromptu happy hour. As summer kicks off, a Low-ABV cocktail is a refreshing option for long days spent in the sun.

Here is everything you need to know about low-alcohol cocktails, including a recipe for our go-to Low-ABV drink to make for your next summertime get-together.

Low-ABV Cocktail

First off, what is a Low-ABV Cocktail?

The Margarita, Manhattan and Martini are all traditional cocktails. This means they’re alcoholic drinks consisting of a spirit (or several spirits) mixed, shaken or stirred with other ingredients. 

On the other end of the drink spectrum, there are low-proof cocktails, so named because they’re low on spirits. These low-alcohol cocktails typically contain no more than ¾ ounce of a strong spirit per serving. Low-ABV cocktails can also be made by using lower-proof spirits that are traditionally used to complement or balance strong spirits – such as sherry or vermouth – as the singular, base spirit in a cocktail. 

So, while there’s no hard-and-fast rule surrounding Low-ABV, these cocktails tend to have less than 15 percent alcohol. To put that in perspective, these cocktails are more in line with a strong beer or glass of wine than a traditional cocktail.

Drinking Low ABV Cocktail

Why Drink A Low-Alcohol Cocktail?

The main advantage of a Low-ABV cocktail is that it affords you the ability to enjoy more than one drink responsibly over an extended period of time. This way, you can experiment with several different cocktails and flavors without over-imbibing.

 Another reason we’re into low-alcohol cocktails is because the lower level of hard liquor makes it even easier to pair with food! And, as you know, around here we’re pretty much always thinking about our next meal.

Angostura Bitters On Bar

So Less Means More

Low-ABV cocktails lend themselves to being sessionable drinks, or drinks that are low enough in alcohol that you can have more than one over an extended period.

And, as with so much of what we do here at Salt & Wind, the key isn’t in the quantity, but in the quality. Less alcohol means you don’t have high-proof spirits defining the flavor (think:  a classic Old Fashioned, for example), so quality ingredients are even more essential to ensure great flavor.

ANGOSTURA® bitters are an essential ingredient within Low-ABV cocktails because, simply put, they transform any drink. They add an exceptional depth of flavor and balance to any cocktail, even when a drink is made without the strong flavor profiles of a high-proof spirit.  

Shot Poured Into Cocktail Pitcher On Bar Cart

When To Order A Low-ABV Cocktail

There is no wrong time to have a low-alcohol cocktail, but we tend to turn to them particularly when cocktail hour is more of a marathon than a sprint.

To us, it’s the perfect cocktail to punctuate a laid-back midsummer evening, say one that involves a two-seater swing, a wraparound porch and great company.

Here in California, we turn to session cocktails for a sunset barbecue or a picnic after a long day exploring outdoors. We’re finding that, the more we’re all becoming mindful about wellness, the more we see ourselves turning to this style of cocktail.

Low ABV Cocktail Being Served On Tray

This Is The Key To Making A Great Low-ABV Cocktail

Just like with a traditional cocktail, the name of the game with a Low-ABV cocktail is balance. As you swap high-proof spirits out of your cocktail, you’ll want to use ingredients that bring flavor and personality!

We say use the same quality ingredients and classic techniques you’d use for a classic cocktail, but you may have to lower the volume of other big flavors (like citrus juices) to accommodate the fact that there is little to no alcohol.

When making Low-ABV cocktails, we love to turn to ANGOSTURA® aromatic and orange bitters to enhance the complexity and intensity of the flavors of other ingredients, while subduing acidic ingredients and traditional liquors. This results in greater balance, especially when experimenting with lessening or eliminating spirit levels in beverages.

Garnishing Cocktail On Bar Cart

Here’s How To Make Your Own Low-ABV Cocktail!

If you haven’t tried a Low-ABV cocktail before, a great place to start is our Cucumber Basil Agua Fresca Cocktail. Less sweet than a traditional agua fresca, this Low-ABV cocktail is a mix of cucumber, basil, lime juice and honey, and it’s finished with elderflower liqueur, a few dashes of ANGOSTURA® orange bitters and a splash of sparkling water.

The result is a super-refreshing drink that’s less than two-percent alcohol, so you can toast summer with something subtle but still very much creative!

ANGOSTURA orange bitters add a unique, complex blend of tropical oranges and spices to the drink, transforming the cocktail with a bend of sweet and bitter flavors. They are available for purchase at grocery stores and liquor retailers nationwide.

Have you had a Low-ABV cocktail before? Let us know in the comments below!

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