05/19/2016 12:08 EDT | Updated 05/20/2017 05:12 EDT

Boozy Beverages For Guilt-Free Summer Sipping

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Cocktail making bar tools and shaker. Red drink with ice

It's summer drink season! I spend a lot of time wearing my nutritionist hat warning people about the perils of socializing over boozy beverages, but the truth is our summer season is short. If you play your cards right, you can have your bevvy and drink it, too. None of the following options are health food, mind you, with the potential exception of that single glass of red wine. But let's be realistic -- we healthy people want to play with the cool kids once in a while.

The Big Picture

Lifelong health matters more than a couple extra pounds that you can work off come fall. Don't be fooled by artificially sweetened or low-calorie alternatives that have no food value.

Sugar is a bigger enemy than alcohol itself.

Calories from alcohol can't be used as fuel to power your brain or muscles.

After a couple of glasses, you are no longer tasting the drink, you are maintaining the buzz.

Above all, be mindful, know your limit and stay within it. Evidence against drinking at all is pretty

strongly correlated with any number of lifestyle illnesses. (Nutritionist hat...)

My new favourite drinks for the picnic/dock/party/pool just for fun

Blackfly coolers contain less sugar (each bottle rings in at about 100 calories) and are made with all natural-ingredients. That's about half the amount in comparable coolers, and if you cut it with soda water, it is a decent way to refresh.

Who says it has to be boozy to be good? MADD Virgin beverages offer alcohol-free wine that makes great sangrias and spritzers. These drinks look and function like wine at about half the calories, and they still have the antioxidant power of resveratrol from grapes. Simply empty into a pitcher and drop in a few orange slices, berries and a few cinnamon sticks, pour over big glasses of ice. And the best part is supporting Mothers Against Drunk Driving with every sip.

Canadian artisan gin Ungava is made with harvested wild arctic botanicals and has the most lovely floral, juniper taste and bright yellow colour. It is smooth enough to forgo the sugary tonic water (tonic has just as much sugar as other sodas, it just has a bitter taste) and should be poured over ice with a few berries to enhance the healthiness. The great thing about drinking spirits straight is that they are sipped and not guzzled, so a little goes a long way

As far as beer goes, go dark or go home. Dark stouts get the rap of being "heavy" when they can be lower in calories than a lager. Guinness, for instance has B vitamins and iron to offer up, as well as the anti-oxidants from malted barley for its mere 155 calories per can. If we can get a little vitamin action out of our sins, why wouldn't we?

In the end, no one is promoting alcohol; it does more bad than good to your body. But it also lowers inhibition and helps a person relax and let's remember... and stress kills. Community counts. Beers with buds is a valid way to spend a summer as long as you don't go overboard (as in don't drink on a boat or too much, no matter where you are).

Of important note: many of these beverages were delivered to me complimentary to test. Many did not make the list. I may or may not have been tipsy writing this. (I wasn't, but I do have the best job in the world, no?)

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