Gin and soda water

The 9 alcoholic drinks to avoid if you want to lose weight — and what you should order instead

As the weather warms up, dining al fresco and barbeques in the sun can make it all too easy for the drinks to slip down.

However, enjoying a tipple or two doesn’t have to ruin your weight loss efforts you might be aiming for.

Here is a list of some of the most popular high-calorie alcoholic drinks with suggested alternatives, put together by online food retailer

From Champagne over Chardonnay to martinis over mojitos, scroll down to see the nine worst things you can drink for your diet, along with the calorie count per drink — and what you should be drinking instead.

Swap a Long Island Iced Tea (424 calories) for a Cosmopolitan (100 calories).

A cosmopolitan is made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and freshly squeezed lime juice or sweetened lime juice. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

With an ingredient list that contains vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, and coke, it’s no wonder that a typical 420ml glass of Long Island contains a whopping 424 calories.

A Cosmopolitan has much less alcohol and only a small amount of cranberry juice, meaning a typical 250ml martini glass contains only 100 calories — less than a quarter of a Long Island.

Swap a Pina Colada (300 calories) for a Fuzzy Navel (120 calories).

Pina Coladas are the perfect beachside cocktail, but thanks to the added coconut and pineapple mixers, these drinks regularly contain a high calorie count of around 300 calories per 230ml.

A Fuzzy Navel contains just peach schnapps and orange juice, making it an ideal fruity replacement at around 120 calories per 115ml drink.

Swap a Mojito (242 calories) for a Martini (70 calories).

Mojitos are a summertime favourite, but thanks to the sugar syrup a typical 230ml glass can contain as many as 242 calories.

A Martini has no additional mixers, meaning that a 250ml glass only contains a measly 70 calories — providing you don’t eat the olive, of course.

Swap an Alcopop (253 calories) for a Diet Rum & Coke (115 calories).

​Alcopops or coolers often contain heaps of added sugars, and an average 340ml bottle can have up to 253 calories.

For an equally sweet but lower calorie drink, a diet rum and coke can contain as little as 115 calories per 280ml serving, making this an ideal sweet alcoholic swap.

Swap your gin & tonic (170 calories) for a slimline gin & tonic (115 calories).

Shape Created with Sketch. Alcoholic drinks: a less calorific alternative

Show all 8 left Created with Sketch. right Created with Sketch. Swap your gin & tonic (170 calories) for a slimline gin & tonic (115 calories) iStock


Swap a Mojito (242 calories) for a Martini (70 calories) Getty


Swap a sweet white wine (160 calories) for a glass of Champagne (89 calories)


Swap a Pina Colada (300 calories) for a Fuzzy Navel (120 calories) Alamy


Swap a Long Island Iced Tea (424 calories) for a Cosmopolitan (100 calories) Getty Images/iStockphoto


Swap a vodka tonic (175 calories) for a vodka, soda, and lime (106 calories) Getty/iStock


Swap an Alcopop (253 calories) for a Diet Rum & Coke (115 calories) Alamy


A moscow mule cocktail is made with vodka, ginger beer, lime juice and ice. Getty Images/iStockphoto


Swap your gin & tonic (170 calories) for a slimline gin & tonic (115 calories) iStock Swap a Mojito (242 calories) for a Martini (70 calories) Getty Swap a sweet white wine (160 calories) for a glass of Champagne (89 calories) Swap a Pina Colada (300 calories) for a Fuzzy Navel (120 calories) Alamy Swap a Long Island Iced Tea (424 calories) for a Cosmopolitan (100 calories) Getty Images/iStockphoto Swap a vodka tonic (175 calories) for a vodka, soda, and lime (106 calories) Getty/iStock Swap an Alcopop (253 calories) for a Diet Rum & Coke (115 calories) Alamy A moscow mule cocktail is made with vodka, ginger beer, lime juice and ice. Getty Images/iStockphoto

A gin & tonic is one of the UK’s favourite drinks, but due to the added sugars of tonic water, a typical 210ml serving can contain about 170 calories.

A similar 210ml serving of gin & slimline tonic contains just 115 calories, saving you an average of 55 calories per glass.

Swap a sweet white wine (160 calories) for a glass of Champagne (89 calories).


The additional sugar in a sweet white wine means that a 175ml medium glass can average about 160 calories.

Champagne has one of the lowest calorie counts for a carbonated drink, with one 120ml serving containing only 89 calories.

Swap a vodka tonic (175 calories) for a vodka, soda, and lime (106 calories).

As with the gin & tonic, it’s the soda water that gives the vodka tonic a relatively high calorie count of 175 calories for 280ml.

Vodka, soda, and lime has no extra sugar and a low calories count of just 106 calories for the same measure.

Swap a Margarita (280 calories) for a Moscow Mule (120 calories).

A moscow mule cocktail is made with vodka, ginger beer, lime juice and ice. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Margaritas are another fashionable cocktail that sadly arent’ particularly healthy, with 280 calories per 230ml serving.

Try swapping for an equally classy Moscow Mule, as these contain just 120 calories per 170ml serving.

Swap a pint of lager (208 calories) for a Barbell Brew Beer (92 calories).

There’s a reason why so many lager drinkers carry a beer belly, as the average pint of the nation’s favourite beer contains roughly 208 calories.

Protein beers like Barbell Brew Beer are becoming increasingly popular amongst fitness fans who still want to enjoy their favourite alcoholic beverage, as they contain around 92 calories per 330ml serving.

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  • The Gin. The gin rickey is a transparent drink so while you do not have to use your very best gin, it is best if you at least pour a decent gin. You might also find it fun to step away from the traditional London dry gins and explore some of the more unusual offerings. Hendrick’s cucumber and Aviation’s fruity-florals are both perfect options here.
  • The Lime Juice. Fresh lime juice should almost be considered a requirement in the gin rickey. Not only will the fruit provide the most natural flavor, but if you are cutting lime for the garnish, you might as well use it in the drink. Also, as you drink you may find yourself squeezing more juice into it. Do yourself a favor and grab fresh lime; your rickey will thank you for it.
  • If you do need to measure out your lime juice, keep in mind that the average lime yields 1/2 to 1 ounce. With either fresh or bottled juice, feel free to adjust the lime to fit your taste—this may change from one gin to another.
  • The Soda. Club soda seems like a simple ingredient, though soda is just as important as any other element in drinks like this. If you step up the quality of the gin and lime, it is only natural to follow suit with the soda. There are some excellent soda companies out there and two recommendations for a great cocktail-worthy club soda are Q Drinks and Fever-Tree.

Is the Gin Sonic Even Better Than the Gin & Tonic?

Whether it’s a symptom of the low-carb, low-calorie beverage blitz or a result of our ceaseless affection for Japanese cocktailing, one thing seems certain: These are high times for the highball. The spirit-soda mix is sweeping the country, one cocktail menu at a time. Enjoying its own rise is Japanese gin, with brands like Kinobi, Nikka Coffey and Suntory’s Roku, gaining popularity stateside. So it’s unsurprising that more people today are enjoying a new low-sugar version of the Gin & Tonic, the Gin Sonic.

The name suggests something big and powerful. But at its chiseled core, the Gin Sonic is a somewhat healthier version of the Gin & Tonic, comprising 1 1/2 ounces of a quality gin with 2 1/4 ounces each of soda water and tonic water. It not only reduces the amount of sugar and some of quinine’s inherent bitterness but also allows for the botanical flavors to shine through.

“Gin & Tonic can be too sweet,” says Victoria Vera, the general manager of sake and shochu bar and restaurant Tsunami Panhandle in San Francisco. “When you do half soda, it balances it and brings out the flavor of the gin.”

Tsunami Panhandle

Vera first tasted a Gin Sonic at Bar Trench in the Shibuya ward in Tokyo last summer and was immediately taken by it. So much so that when she returned to San Francisco, she added a Gin Sonic, made with Roku gin, to the cocktail offerings at Tsunami.

“People don’t get that correlation of ‘sonic’—soda and tonic—right off the bat, but when they do, they want to try it, especially gin and highball lovers,” says Vera. “It’s one of my favorite cocktails. I like to recommend it to my guests.”

As with a Gin & Tonic, Vera will change up the garnish depending on what botanicals comprise each gin. With Roku and Nikka Coffey, she uses a yuzu peel; with citrus-forward Kinobi, she’ll use a lemon wheel to add some bitterness. She has experimented with Hendrick’s and used cucumber.

“The Gin Sonic allows for simple and subtle garnishes to play a supporting role in the flavor of the drink,” says Simon Ford, the founder of Fords gin. “Just a slice of lemon, orange or grapefruit works wonders, or floating an herb like a sprig of lemon verbena adds a subtle and bright freshness.”

Gin Sonic at Tsunami Panhandle

Masahiro Urushido, the owner of New York City’s Katana Kitten, which was named best new American bar at the 2019 Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, agrees with Ford. He prefers using a juniper-forward London dry style along with a fresh citrus peel or lime wedge to balance the drink’s piney notes.

But it’s also how it’s made that can make or break a drink, in his opinion. Urushido tasted his first

Gin Sonic almost 20 years ago but admits it likely didn’t have a name back then. He was living in Japan and working in an upscale restaurant after high school where they had smaller bottles of higher-quality soda water and used hand-carved ice with well-selected spirits, he says.

“It’s always about the right vessel and ice and those details,” says Urushido. “If you just use shitty ice, it just melts right away, so it kind of tastes like flat tonic water. In the right context, you can actually taste the difference between gin and tonic and what’s so great about the Gin Sonic.”

Gin Sonic

Get Recipe

In addition to taste, a possible reason people enjoy a Gin Sonic is that it’s a bit healthier than a higher-sugar Gin & Tonic. By cutting the sweetness of the tonic water and adding soda, the Gin Sonic could catch on at a time in America where people are more health-conscious.

“It runs perfectly parallel to what drinkers desire at this point in time: a little bit healthier for a little sacrifice in flavor,” says Danny Shapiro, a partner in Chicago’s Scofflaw Group, which owns the popular gin-focused bar Scofflaw. “Soda has the power to soften gin’s edges; it can bring out flavors that might have been too acute otherwise,” he says. “I’d go with higher-proof gins, above 45% ABV, for the Sonic treatment.”

While the Gin Sonic has gained popularity in Japan, whether it will catch on in America still remains to be seen. But as the U.S. has followed Japan with enjoying that country’s super-popular whisky and also highballs, the Gin Sonic may be next.

“The highball has been popular in Japan for years, with the trend hitting the U.S. only relatively recently,” says Gardner Dunn, a senior Japanese whisky ambassador for Beam Suntory, which produces Roku gin. “The Sonic is more widely enjoyed in Japan but could easily continue to grow in the U.S. as more people try the delicious drink.”

To avoid excess calories when enjoying a drink swap the classic gin and tonic for a sugarless option.


Gin and tonic

Calories: 207

Carbohydrates: 15g

Sugar: 14.3g

Equivalent in sugar to 7 old fashion Tim Hortons Timbits (14g).


Gin and club soda

Calories: 151

Carbohydrates: 0g

Sugar: 0g

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With holiday party season in full swing, it’s easy to drink and eat more than usual. Club soda and tonic water are popular mixes for cocktails, and many people assume that tonic water is similar to club soda in ingredients and nutrients. However, the bitter-tasting tonic water is more like other sugar-filled beverages, as it includes sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavouring and preservatives. In fact, one gin and tonic mixed drink serves up as much sugar as 7 old fashion timbits from Tim Hortons. For a mix that’s sugar-free, pick up club soda, which is just carbonated water, add a squeeze of lime and some bitters. You’ve just created your own tonic water. Bottoms up!

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This Gin Rickey Recipe is the less sweet and lower calorie version of the Gin and Tonic you love! It’s a delicious simple cocktail that you could make so many different variations of.


It seems like the older I get the more I’m looking for cocktails that are delicious and refreshing, but aren’t overly sweet. That is, perhaps, why I love this Gin Rickey so very much. A highball drink that dates back to the 1900s, you just can’t go wrong with the classic gin rickey recipe.

It also doesn’t hurt that it’s not 8 million calories for one glass. Only 180 calories for this delicious Gin Rickey!


As I mentioned, a Gin Rickey is basically just the lighter, lower calorie version of the Gin and Tonic. Instead of using sweetened lime juice and tonic water like in the Gin and Tonic, this recipe uses unsweetened lime juice and club soda. Trust me, the flavor will still knock your socks off!

If you’re looking for more lower calorie cocktails, try my Easy Skinny Mojitos or this tangy Skinny Grapefruit Margarita.


This low-cal cocktail comes together in just three simple ingredients:

  • Gin (I love using Bombay Saphire…also delicious in this Cucumber Lemon Gin and Tonic and this Gin Fizz)
  • Lime juice (either freshly squeezed or from a bottle)
  • Chilled club soda


While you could pull out your cocktail shaker for this, I think it’s simpler just to mix it right in the glass.

  1. Add ice to a high ball glass.
  2. Pour in the gin and lime juice.
  3. Top with club soda and stir to combine.


With a recipe as simple as this, you can dress up your Gin Rickey a million different ways.

  • Use grapefruit flavored sparkling water instead of club soda.
  • Lime and watermelon go great together! Add a splash of watermelon juice!
  • Muddle some raspberries in the bottom of your glass for color and a bit of flavor.


  • GIN FIZZ: Frothy and delicious, you will love this old classic.
  • FRENCH 75: Perhaps one of my very favorite cocktails! If you love champagne check this out.
  • MOSCOW MULE WITH GIN: I think I might like Moscow Mules even more with gin.

If you try this amazing gin cocktail or any of my other drinks, leave me a comment and let me know!

Gin Rickey Recipe

This Gin Rickey Recipe is the less sweet lower calorie version of the Gin and Tonic you love! It’s a delicious simple cocktail that you could make so many different variations of. Prep Time5 mins Total Time5 mins Course: Drinks Cuisine: American Keyword: gin rickey recipe Servings: 1 cocktail Calories: 180kcal Author: Lisa Longley

  • 2 ounces gin I love Bombay Saphire
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 3 ounces club soda chilled
  • Combine the gin and lime juice in a high ball glass filled with ice.
  • Top with club soda. Stir to combine.


Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Sodium: 19mg | Potassium: 38mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 12.4mg | Calcium: 10mg

It’s pretty hard to think of gin without tonic. It’s like bread without butter or strawberries without cream. Terrible, right? Wrong. There are multiple ways to enjoy a gin-based drink without tonic water. Here’s what we recommend…

Bitter lemon

Alamy Stock Photos

Cloudy and pale in colour, don’t be put off by the title. It’s actually not too bitter, it just has a bit of a tang which is the perfect way to compliment gin.

Soda water

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Admittedly, we wouldn’t advise drinking gin with just soda water, you’ll need a nice wedge of fresh lime or lemon in there, but it’s ultra-refreshing and low-calorie too.

Cranberry juice

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If you like your drinks on the sweeter side a simple cranberry juice with gin will hit the spot. If you want to Sex & The Beach-it up gin style, add some smooth, fresh orange juice too.

Fizzy elderflower

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You can buy fizzy elderflower either pre-made or make your own by combining elderflower cordial with fizzy water. Pour a shot of gin into a tall glass, add the elderflower fizz and you’ll have yourself a gorgeous summery beverage.

Ginger beer

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Typically known to go well with whisky and lime, don’t turn your nose up at ginger beer’s gin potential. It will add a little sweetness and spice to the spirit – all you need to do is serve the cocktail with a splash of lime cordial or a fresh wedge.

Tomato juice

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Yes, really. Swap the spirit in a traditional Bloody Mary to gin and you’ll have a Red Snapper. Spicy, refreshing, delicious and an excellent choice for hair of the dog.


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If you’re an avid rum and coke drinker, this will take a little getting used to but gin and coke really does work. Just make sure you squeeze fresh lime into it to lift the sweetness.

The alternative gin mixers to have on your radar

Shloer Spritzed Grapefruit & Mint, £2.50, Sainsbury’s

Slightly less sweet than its original counterparts, Shloer’s refreshingly dry Spritzed range is great as an option for non-drinkers – but also equally great with a little gin mixed in. Try the Bitter Orange version too.

Sekforde Botanical Mixer for Gin & Vodka, £1.95, Waitrose & Partners

Low in sugar and calories, this handy tonic alternative has notes of raspberry, rose and sage.

London Essence Co. White Peach & Jasmine Soda, £1.85, Ocado

‘It is exquisite when drunk alone, or adds a light sweetness to round off the bitterness of a gin,’ say the makers of this fruity yet floral blend.

Fentimans Traditional Rose Lemonade, £3, Morrisons

Fentimans believe in the pairing of their rose lemonade so much they actually sell it in premixed bottles. Prefer to measure it yourself? Get 750ml of the non-alcoholic stuff for just £3.

San Pellegrino Pomegranate & Orange, £3.79, Ocado

You can’t go wrong adding gin to any flavour of San Pellegrino, but this pomegranate-infused offering makes for a particularly quirky twist.

Gin and tonic are as synonymous with each other as beans and toast – but one expert is saying we should be swapping our traditional mixer for soda water instead.

Speaking to The Drinks Business, James Chase from Chase Distillery reveals he thinks drinking spirits with soda water is the next big trend in the drinks industry.

‘I love gin with soda so I can actually taste the gin,’ he said. ‘Health is becoming more evident when eating out and drinking, so there’s a shift towards healthier drinks.’

‘We are so health conscious now and I guess I am looking closer at what I drink and how I feel the next day. Sugar can also contribute to a hangover!’


And it’s not just the health aspect, James claims that drinking gin with soda instead of tonic water improves the taste, making the juniper ‘a lot more pronounced’.

‘I want a drink not laced with sugar and one that allows the spirits to shine through.’

As well as soda water, Chase recommends adding bitters, such as Bittermens Grapefruit Bitters, for a new take on a G&T.

And if you can’t live without your tonic, his go-to is Fever-Tree Naturally Light.

So will you be swapping a G&T for a G&S any time soon?


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Bartenders have long known the importance of applying carbonation to a drink, but it is a rarely discussed topic in comparison to other aspects of the bar like spirits, ice, technique and so on. More recently, however, as bartenders increasingly analyze the composition of their drinks, a higher focus on bubbles has also taken wind.

At the Manhattan Cocktail Classic back in May, Perrier brought together some of the top minds in cocktails for a discussion on carbonation, highlighting the nuances that we often experience in a drink, but might not necessarily be aware of. London’s Tony Conigliaro, someone who pays a lot of attention to the psychology of taste, noted that bubbles are a vehicle to release aromas from the drink to our nose, and yes, size matters.

Differing carbonation levels mean different sizes of bubbles, so while club soda (or seltzer) has larger, more abrasive bubbles, a water such as Perrier and S.Pellegrino offers more delicate approach and release of aromas from the cocktail, along with subtle minerality, which can play a factor in the drink. Regular soda water, whether from a bottle or tap, is still the most widely used, but as Little Branch’s Karin Stanley puts it, “people are so specific about what vodka they choose at a bar, why not which water they put in their drink?”

Of course, summer is prime for tall, cooler-style drinks, almost always topped with soda in a highball glass. One of the first of this style of drink from the 19th century was the Rickey, and though a vodka-soda is still probably the top requested beverage in many bars, a Rickey is in essence the equivalent crowd-pleaser in bars that focus on craft cocktails.

Being one of the easiest drinks to modify (changing the base to vodka and adding ginger makes this drink a Moscow Mule, and with gin and lemon, it would be a Tom Collins), it’s only the ice, tall glass and bubbles that remain constant. However, it seems now that even finding an alternative to soda in one’s cocktail can help make the difference in creating a great drink.


When it’s hot outside, there is nothing better than a cold, refreshing drink. For me that means something delicious and bubbly! My go-to used to be soda but now that I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle, I’ve been staying away from it. I recently discovered Vintage Sparkling Water and it has been an amazing alternative!

There’s a lot to love about Vintage Sparkling Water. It has zero calories and it contains no sugar, artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup. It also has no artificial flavors, colors or dyes. It’s made with just two ingredients: carbonated water and natural flavors!

Vintage Sparkling Water comes in six delicious flavors: Pink Grapefruit, Lime, Coconut, Lemon, Cucumber Melon and Original. They taste great by themselves or you can add them to any drink to make it sparkling! My favorite flavor so far is Lime. During the day, especially after I’ve been out in the heat, I like to pour it over a glass of ice and squeeze fresh lime juice over the top. It is incredibly refreshing!

The sparkling water is also great for creating your favorite mixed drinks. I’ve been using the Lime flavor to create one of my favorites — The Gin Rickey. If you’ve never heard of this before, it’s a great summer cocktail made with gin, fresh lime juice, sparkling water and sometimes simple syrup. I like to save my calories when I can, so I substitute the simple syrup with stevia. Prefer non-alcoholic? Simply leave out the gin.

The next time you are craving a refreshing cocktail, you have to try the Gin Rickey! It’s super easy to make, low-cal and totally guilt-free. Don’t like gin? Swap it out for Bacardi! It is the perfect alternative. Please remember to drink responsibly.


  • 2 oz Gin
  • 1/2 Lime
  • Sparkling Water (Vintage Sparkling Water works great!)
  • Stevia (to taste, optional)


  1. Squeeze lime juice into a glass filled with ice. Add gin and top off with sparkling water. Sweeten with stevia if you wish.
  2. Stir well and serve.


Non-Alcoholic Version: Make as-is but simply leave out the gin.

You can find Vintage Sparkling Water at your local Kroger or King Soopers. I found a 12-pack of cans at King Soopers for $3.99. Just make sure to look closely — at my store they were hard to see on the bottom of the shelf!

Vintage Sparkling Water Coupon

Want a coupon to save on Vintage products? Head on over here to print a coupon good for $1 off any 12-pack of Vintage Seltzer or Sparkling Cans. You can also tag a pic on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #DrinkVintage and you will be given a $1 off coupon!

What drink will you create with Vintage Sparkling Water?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my full disclosure here.

The Perfect Gin & Soda, I.M.H.O.

The Glass: It must be a high ball. Low ball glasses are simply a waste of time unless you are drinking something neat or straight-up. If you can manage it, the glass should also be frosted. This feels quite refreshing on the lips and will prolong the lifespan of the drink. Mixing your next drink in the same sweaty glass should be avoided. The pace with which I drink these, this can become a challenge.

The Ice: Fill the high ball to the brim with the largest, freshest, clearest ice cubes you can find. Perfectly square ice cubes are a fine bonus, but not necessary. You should not be able to squeeze one more cube into the glass if you try. Yes, it’s a lot of ice but the goal here is to finish the drink before too much of the ice melts and waters down your beverage. If you’re planning on having a few, or sharing, make sure your ice is well stocked before beginning. Ice rationing is the leading cause of terrible gin & sodas.

There is no such thing as an undrinkable gin & soda, but there is such a thing as a perfect one.

The Gin: This is the easy part. I use Gordon’s London Dry because it is the cheapest bottle in the store in Panama. But you can use whichever brand you’d like. Just know that it won’t make a difference. Pour at least two ounces over the ice.

The Limes: Do not use lime wedges, bottled lime juice or cordial. Use the softest limes you can find. Roll them on a countertop. Cut them in half making a slice between the two nipple-ends. Using some kind of squeezing/juicing tool, juice about one lime for each drink you plan on having. As with the ice, make sure you’re well stocked. Add half an ounce of lime juice to the ice and gin.

The Soda: Your glass should be about half filled with liquid by now (or half empty if you’re drowning sorrows). Fill the rest of the glass up with club soda or soda water. Depending on your glass size it should take almost half a can. If you’re using an open two litre bottle of soda, ensure it’s well carbonated. When in doubt, throw it out.

Stir with anything long and thin. A skewer or chopstick will work. Or a thin knife. If you use a straw, use it only for stirring. Do not drink the beverage with a straw. Straws have no place in a cocktail.

Do not under any circumstances add herbs or spices, cucumbers or any other salad ingredient, berries, lime minute-aid, margarita mix of any kind, slush, sorbet, plastic ice cubes, or fruit juices or purées.

Drink responsibly, sometimes.