When you’re trying to maintain a fit bod even after the Summer, going out for a drink (or a few) is not typically something that comes to mind, since drinking usually comes with the repercussions of being way over your daily allotment of calories or carbs or just way too much sugar.

I decided to tour around the greater New York City area to bars and lounges to find the city’s most delicious, low-calorie cocktails.

To kick off the low-cal tour, I stopped in to Dutch Fred’s in Hell’s Kitchen, where I was greeted—and, essentially pampered—by one of the most talented and friendliest mixologists in the city, Frankie Oley. According to Oley, the best and only way to create drinks was through three basic principles: personality, presentation, and taste. He sure covered them all during my visit.

My favorite of the three low-calorie beverages he whipped up was the refreshing Dutch’s Courage. The name is deceiving, as it doesn’t take a ton of courage to drink because of how refreshing and smooth it is. While you sip on this gin-based cocktail, you get hints of mint, agave, lemon juice, and a celery garnish.

Dutch's Courage cocktail, lemon garnish

Dutch’s Courage

Dutch’s Courage


  • 1 1/2 oz. Boomsma Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz. House Cordial
  • 6 dashes Celery Bitters
  • 4 Mint Leaves

Preparation: Put all ingredients into a Boston Shaker, add ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Double strain into a double rocks glass with a 2 x 2 inch ice mold and garnish with a 4-inch celery stalk.

My second choice in the lineup was a drink of puns, as it is known as Hell is a Mild Climate. This rang true, as the initial flavorings were freshly squeezed lime juice, agave, and a bite of habanero pepper, which also served as the decor gracing the straw.

Hell is a Mild Climate, cocktail with garnish

Hell is a Mild Climate

Hell is a Mild Climate


  • 1 1/2 oz. Pueblo Viejo Tequila
  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Agave Cordial
  • 1/2 oz. Pamplemousse
  • 1/4 oz Campari
  • 6 dashes Habeñero Bitters

Preparation: Put all ingredients into a Boston Shaker, add ice, and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Put ice into a Collins Glass and double strain.

My third favorite in taste, yet first place in presentation, goes to the Double-Smoked Old-Fashioned. This cocktail, which nears a measly 150 calories, is comprised of rye whiskey (namely, Templeton Rye’s The Good Stuff), and is a spectacle you do not want to miss. Oley made sure that all eyes were on the bar as he torched a plank of wood to create a smoky sensation to give the cocktail a wooded undertone. After creating a charred plank, he then placed the glass facedown to hold in the remainder of the smoke for about 45 seconds. He then concocted the rest of the beverage, which consisted of more smoke, an orange peel, The Good Stuff, and a spherical ice cube. The presentation was outstanding and very intriguing.

Double Smoked Old Fashioned cocktail on bar

Double Smoked Old Fashioned

Double-Smoked Old-Fashioned


  • 2 oz. Templeton Rye
  • 1/4 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 4 dashes Oley’s Original Bitters
  • 2 dashes Mole Bitters
  • Cherry Wood Smoke
  • Cedar Wood Smoke

Preparation: In a 16 oz. pint glass, add syrup, Oley’s Bitters, Mole Bitters and Templeton Rye (In this exact order). Use a Breville PolyScience Smoke Infuser filled with cherry wood and ignite into the pint glass. Take a 28 oz. Koriko and place semi-over the pint glass and let both vessels fill with cherry wood smoke completely. Once the smoke is coming out very thick, slowly cap the pint glass with the 28 oz. Koriko. Now begin to torch a grilling cedar plank with a culinary torch focusing on the eye of the fire and building legs. After about 15 seconds of building the legs, cup the eye of the burnt plank with a 12 oz. double rocks glass. Take the 28 oz. Koriko slowly off of the pint glass and dry stir with a tear drop until the smoke has vanished. Add ice and stir 17 times. Put a julep strainer over the pint glass to get ready to strain quickly. Flip over the 12 oz. double rocks glass, add the 2 x 2 ice mold and strain over the ice. The glass is hot so wait 30 seconds before taking the first sip.

Follow Shaun Melady @ShaunMelady.