Cocktails are great, yet many of the recipes include at least one 80-proof liquor that can be a little too much at times. There are many instances when we want a delicious drink without the full impact of that strong alcohol and that is where low-proof cocktails like these come in handy.
What is a Low-Proof Cocktail?
By low-proof drinks, I am talking about those that skip the standard base liquors like gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and whiskey. Instead, these recipes feature liqueurs that range from... 15-30% alcohol by volume (30-60 proof) as the base.
These drinks tend to have a sweeter profile than the spirit-heavy martinis and margaritas, which when mixed can still have around 30% alcohol/volume (60 proof). Not only does this make them perfect for those casual evenings when you don't want a heavy drink, but they are also perfect with dessert, during brunch, or with any meal that deserves a light libation.
More Low-Proof Options
Though not included in this list, you might also think about choosing one of the popular highball drinks for something that is slightly lighter on the booze.
How You Mix Makes a Difference
There are a number of factors that play into the final alcohol by volume that is in a finished cocktail. I have included only a general idea of what you can expect from each of the recipes below. I recommend reading the article What is the Proof of My Cocktail? for more information.
01 of 10
Ingredients: white creme de cacao, green creme de menthe, cream
It is probably appropriate to begin this list with a favorite martini that is designed to satiate your sweet tooth desires.
The Grasshopper is a fun drink, filled with chocolate and mint with a creamy base and it is always a hard one to resist. It is also very easy to mix up because each of the three ingredients are poured in equal proportions.
If you were to choose 40 proof liqueurs, the drink would come in at around 13%... alcohol/volume (26 proof).
02 of 10
Ingredients: amaretto, orange juice, club soda
A tall and fruity highball is just the thing we want sometimes and the Bocce Ball is a perfect candidate. Just be sure to choose the recipe without the vodka.
The Bocce Ball is similar to a Screwdriver, though in this case we use amaretto instead of vodka. What makes it a little more special is the splash of club soda, which adds a little air and lightens up the mix.
With a 40 proof amaretto and a pour of 4 ounces of juice, the drink would come in at... around 10% alcohol/volume (20 proof).
03 of 10
Ingredients: RumChata Liqueur, banana liqueur
It is absolutely delicious and as much of a treat as the real thing. The Banana Cream Pie is exactly what it sounds like and, if you are ambitious, includes a graham cracker rim.
RumChata is low-proof at just 27.5 proof and if you were to choose even a 60 proof banana liqueur, this cocktail would still be right around 15% alcohol/volume (30 proof).
04 of 10
Ingredients: Rosé wine, blueberries, pink lemonade, lemon-lime soda
Wine punch is a perfect low-proof option for parties, though we do have to be careful because, as in the case for most sangrias, there is some brandy or rum involved. However, a recipe like this Rose Berry Bliss is a perfectly light option and it is one of the easiest punches to mix up.
The wine suggested in this recipe is 25 proof and it is mixed with a heavy amount of lemonade and soda, which could bring each serving down to... around 3% alcohol/volume (6 proof).Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Ingredients: Zen Green Tea Liqueur, Midori Liqueur, mango juice, cream, white pepper
The Dreaming of Zen is one of my favorite drinks on the list because you not only get a beautiful green, low-proof cocktail, but it is filled with the most interesting flavors.
The liqueurs bring in the contrast of melon and green tea, the mango and cream add a heavy exotic fruit base, and the peppercorn and mint are the perfect accents. It is an adventure.
You may think that two liqueurs will make this cocktail a... higher proof than it actually is. The key to this soft cocktail is that the mango and cream make up most of the volume and with that it comes in at just about 5% alcohol/volume (10 proof).
06 of 10
Ingredients: dry vermouth, peach liqueur
A simple and fruity take on the classic Martini, the Norina is a fantastic sipping drink that is soft enough to enjoy anytime. The mix simply pairs a great dry vermouth with a peach liqueur and it is a true delight.
If you were to choose a 40 proof peach liqueur and pair that with the 30 proof Cinzano Dry Vermouth, your finished drink would come in at about 17% alcohol/volume (34 proof).
07 of 10
Ingredients: white creme de cacao, blue curacao, cream
A blue orange and chocolate cream can be found inside the glass of a Blue Carnation. It is a beautiful drink and that combination of citrus and sweet is a fantastic one that is used in a number of other dessert martinis.
This recipe uses more cream than alcohol, so when it is mixed up it comes in at about 8% alcohol/volume (16 proof). This assumes that one liqueur is 60 proof and the other about 40 proof.
08 of 10
Ingredients: TyKu Citrus Liqueur, pomegranate juice, rose nectar
This beautiful pink cocktail is a light and fruity and filled with a fantastic array of flavors. The liqueur is a blend of exotic citrus fruit and these pair perfectly with the pomegranate and rose to create a cocktail that is enjoyable all day long.
TyKu is another low-proof liqueur and when combined in this recipe, the drink comes out to about 6% alcohol/volume (12 proof).Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Ingredients: Frangelico Liqueur, creme de cacao, cream
Here we have another cocktail that uses more cream than spirits and it is another tasty mix. Frangelico is a timeless hazelnut liqueur that adds a nice savory nut profile to the popular combination of chocolate and cream.
Of course, if you opt to mix up the Friar Tuck No. 2 (included in the link), the brandy will throw that recipe off of the low-proof qualification list.
Assuming that the chocolate liqueur you choose is about equal to... Frangelico's 48 proof, a finished Friar Tuck will come out to around 12% alcohol/volume (24 proof).
10 of 10
Ingredients: coffee or cacao liqueurs, cream, club soda
Once you get past the fact that you are carbonating a creamy drink, the Smith & Kearns is actually a fantastic drink. The recipe even gives you the option of coffee or chocolate as the base so you can fit it to your mood of the day.
Let's pretend that we want to build a 7-ounce highball drink (glass size can vary) and we will top this drink with about 3 ounces of club soda and that our liqueur is 40 proof. In this instance the Smith... & Kearns would be a gentle 6% alcohol/volume (12 proof).