Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Cocktails

25 Low-Alcohol Cocktails for Taking It Easy

They’re proof that low-proof can be delicious.

Aperol Spritz
Aperol Spritz Image:

Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

We love a classic Martini or Manhattan, but sometimes an occasion calls for a more sessionable drink. Whether you’re extending an evening of imbibing, or simply in the mood for a light and refreshing cocktail, consider these options that lean on low-alcohol ingredients like vermouth, sherry, and amaro instead of full-proof spirits. From lively spritzes to elegant stirred aperitifs like the Adonis and Bamboo, most are just as easy to make as they are to drink.

  • Americano

    Americano cocktail

    Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

    If you’re craving a Negroni but want to lighten up the format, look no further than the drink’s precursor, the Americano. Invented by Gaspare Campari in 1860s Milan, this bittersweet long drink tops equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth with soda water.

    Get the recipe.

  • White Port & Tonic

    White Port and Tonic

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    Known as the Porto Tonico in its native Portugal, this classic aperitivo cocktail is as simple as its name implies. Just top a dry white port with tonic water, and garnish with a lemon wheel or orange twist.

    Get the recipe.

  • Bamboo

    Bamboo cocktail

    Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

    Dry sherry has a food-friendly reputation, so it’s no surprise that it stars in this 19th-century aperitif alongside an equal measure of dry vermouth. Add Angostura and orange bitters for a rich, herbal, and complex drink that you can sip for hours.

    Get the recipe.

  • Adonis

    Adonis cocktail

    Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

    A two-ingredient cocktail recipe is always good to have on hand, and this 19th-century classic is a particularly elegant option. With equal parts fino sherry and sweet vermouth, it’s slightly sweeter than the Bamboo, but just as perfect with tapas or other bites.

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 5 of 25 below.
  • Averna Cobbler

    Averna Cobbler cocktail

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    This juicy cocktail from bartender Stacey Swenson combines the bittersweet and approachable amaro Averna with sweet vermouth, lemon juice, and a barspoon of marmalade. A cracked black pepper garnish adds an unexpected kick. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Albariño Mint Julep

    Albarino Mint Julep

    Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

    The Mint Julep is refreshing as is, but bar pro Alex Day makes the format even more quaffable by using albariño instead of bourbon as the base. With just three ounces of albariño alongside a teaspoon of peach liqueur, it has less alcohol than your standard glass of wine. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Aperol Spritz

    Aperol Spritz

    Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

    This classic Italian aperitivo has an easy-to-remember formula: 3-2-1, or three parts prosecco, two parts Aperol, and one part bubbly water. Once you have it memorized, feel free to try different variations—swap in a different amaro like Cynar, or use whatever sparkling wine you have on hand.

    Get the recipe.

  • Garibaldi

    Garibaldi cocktail

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    This two-ingredient Italian drink is deceptively simple—just combine Campari and orange juice—but bartender Naren Young aerates the OJ to make it fluffy. You can use a juicer or a handheld frother to achieve the desired texture.

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 9 of 25 below.
  • Suzie Americano

    Suzie Americano

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    Fans of the White Negroni might find a new favorite order in this lightly floral and fragrant Americano twist. Bartender Tristan Willey combines the gentian liqueur Suze with white vermouth and club soda.

    Get the recipe.

  • Sherry Cobbler

    Sherry Cobbler

    Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

    It doesn’t get much simpler than this drink, which requires just one alcoholic ingredient: amontillado sherry. Shake with simple syrup, a half-wheel of orange, and lots of ice for a refreshing pre-meal or day-drinking option.

    Get the recipe.

  • Kir Royale

    Kir Royale cocktail

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    Add black currant liqueur crème de cassis to a glass, top with Champagne, and you have this festive and effortless sparkling wine cocktail. You’ll want to keep the ingredients on hand for celebrations of any kind.

    Get the recipe.

  • The Gage Cobbler

    The Gage Cobbler

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    This Sherry Cobbler twist from bartender Azrhiel Frost adds Chambord raspberry-flavored liqueur to the classic. The Chambord’s sweetness is offset by a drier fino sherry and tart lemon juice. 

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 13 of 25 below.
  • Scarlet Spritz

    Scarlet Spritz

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    A few extra steps and ingredients take the classic Aperol Spritz to the next level. This fruity riff from bartender Brandman Lockman employs strawberry-infused Aperol, Lillet blanc aperitif, rhubarb bitters, and sparkling wine in an absinthe-rinsed glass.

    Get the recipe.

  • Winter Sour

    Winter Sour cocktail

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    An ounce of Campari is the only alcoholic ingredient in this brightly-hued (and flavored) drink from bar pro H. Joseph Erhmann. He combines the beloved amaro with muddled rosemary, clover honey syrup, Meyer lemon juice, and an egg white.

    Get the recipe.

  • Lemon Shandy

    Lemon Shandy

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    This famously thirst-quenching drink is nearly as easy to make as cracking open a can of beer. Just combine equal parts lager and lemonade. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Queen Elizabeth

    Queen Elizabeth

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    Don’t let the name fool you: This elegant drink has no British connection. In fact, the combination of dry vermouth, the French honeyed liqueur Benedictine, and tart lime juice was first mixed up in Philadelphia in the 1930s. 

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 17 of 25 below.
  • Bellini

    Bellini

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    This fizzy peach-and-prosecco combination has become a brunch favorite, but it’s equally appropriate as a pre- or post-dinner drink. Simply top white peach puree with the sparkling wine. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Magic Hour

    Magic Hour cocktail

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    Bar pro Tom Macy employs Lillet Rosé as the base of this lovely aperitif, then combines the aromatized wine with a teaspoon of yellow Chartreuse, grapefruit juice, and simple syrup. Sparkling wine makes it fit for a celebration. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Demi Peche

    Demi Peche

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    This fruity beer cocktail evokes both the French Radler and the Shandy. To make one, combine your wheat beer or lager of choice with a homemade peach syrup. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Coronation Cocktail No. 1

    Coronation cocktail

    Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

    Not all stirred cocktails are boozy, and this elegant aperitif from the pages of Harry Craddock’s 1930s tome Savoy Cocktail Book is proof. The relative of the Adonis and Bamboo combines dry vermouth, fino sherry, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters. 

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 21 of 25 below.
  • Negroni Sbagliato

    Negroni Sbagliato

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    On the alcohol spectrum, this drink sits somewhere in between the Americano and a full-proof Negroni. It’s arguably the most festive of the bunch, with prosecco standing in for gin or soda water.

    Get the recipe.

  • Hugo Spritz

    Hugo Spritz

    Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

    This floral and lightly herbaceous spritz comes from Northern Italy, where it is made with an elderflower cordial called acqua santa (holy water). Stateside, a more readily available substitute is St-Germain liqueur, which is combined with muddled mint, prosecco, and soda water.

    Get the recipe.

  • Figurati

    Figurati cocktail

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    Serve this fizzy Italian drink with happy-hour snacks. It combines bittersweet Cappelletti aperitivo with lambrusco sparkling wine and Peychaud’s bitters.

    Get the recipe.

  • St-Germain Cocktail

    St Germain Cocktail

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    Also known as the St-Germain Spritz, this floral sparkler from spirits writer Simon Difford combines the namesake elderflower liqueur with dry white wine and club soda. Add Champagne for extra effervescence and elegance.

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 25 of 25 below.
  • Bicicletta

    Bicicletta cocktail

    Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

    Similar to the Aperol Spritz, this Italian drink swaps Aperol for its more bitter cousin Campari, and prosecco is exchanged for a mix of dry white wine and club soda. The results are just as easy to drink on a sunny afternoon. 

    Get the recipe.