What better way to celebrate the Olympics than with a nice cocktail in hand? We’re big fans of anything themed here at Greatist, so we rounded up some killer cocktails from all over the world to help celebrate with style (and make sure that glass is never empty). Plus, we’ve altered the classic recipes a bit to cut down on next morning guilt. (Sorry, we can’t eliminate the hangover — but we do have a few suggestions of things that might help!)
1. Great Britain: Pimm’s Cup
The Pimm’s Cup has been a classic British drink since it’s invention at a London oyster bar back in the 1840s. The bar’s owner, James Pimm, invented the drink to serve as a tonic to aid digestion.
1 shot Pimm’s No. 1
1 slice each of orange, lemon, apple, and cucumber
1 strawberry, sliced
1 spear English cucumber
1 sprig mint
1 lemon, juiced (try to find Meyer lemons, if possible!)
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1 splash soda water
In a cocktail shaker, combine Pimm’s, lemon juice, and sugar. Fill the remainder of the shaker with ice, cover, and shake for 20 seconds. Fill tall pilsner glass wish ice, and strain shaken mixture into glass. Add the orange, lemon, apple, cucumber, strawberry, and mint and push into the drink. Top with ginger ale Fill remainder of cup with ginger beer and garnish with cucumber spear.
How It’s Healthier: This recipe eliminates the classic addition of sugar and ginger ale, instead using fresh ginger and soda water as a substitute.
2. Russia: Vodka
What’s more Russian than a straight up shot of chilled vodka? Answer: Pretty much nothing. Except maybe if it’s enjoyed alongside some caviar and borscht. Vashe zdorovje! (That’s Russian for cheers!)
1 shot vodka, chilled
How It’s Healthier: No sugary mixers.
3. France: Kir Royale
Liqueur made from black currant purée. Need we say more? Plus, the name makes us feel super fancy.
6 oz. champagne (or unoaked white wine, if you’re making a classic Kir)
1/2 a shot of crème de cassis
1 lemon twist for garnish
Pour the crème de cassis into the bottom of a champagne glass, followed by the champagne. Garnish with the lemon twist.
How It’s Healthier: Using a little less creme de cassis cuts back a bit on calories.
4. Host City Special: The Gold Medal
With a London flair (curry powder and classic English gin!), this drink is the perfect way to celebrate a home-country win.
2 slices yellow bell pepper
1 shot Gin (Feeling British? Try Beefeater 24)
1/3 a shot oz. turbinado Simple Syrup
½ a lime, juiced
1 shot pineapple juice
Pinch of curry powder
In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the bell pepper slices. Add the other ingredients and shake for about 20 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a third bell pepper slice.
How It’s Healthier: Fresh veggies! Curry powder can also have some health benefits from it’s high levels of the antioxidant curcumin.
5. United States:Strawberries and Stripes Daiquiri
Okay, so this one isn’t a classic American cocktail, but it does combine some quintessential summer red, white, and blue favorites.
1 cup fresh watermelon, cubed
½ cup frozen strawberries
½ cup ice
1-2 shots strawberry-flavored vodka or rum
1 small handful fresh blueberries
Whipped cream topping of your choice (optional)
Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and top with whipped topping and blueberries. Enjoy! (Yup, it’s that easy.)
How It’s Healthier: Fresh fruit and no added sugar!
6. Mexico: Paloma
This is like a lighter, pinker, slightly sweeter margarita. Plus, it’s actually more popular in Mexico than the margarita, especially in the southern regions — and they must know their own drinks best, right?
1 shot white tequila
½ shot lime juice
Pinch of salt
4 shots grapefruit soda (6oz) (Try the Mexican Jarritos brand)
Combine tequila, lime juice, and salt in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 20-30 seconds. Pour into glass over ice and top with grapefruit soda.
How It’s Healthier: This one’s pretty simple — choose a low-sugar grapefruit soda, and you’ll be going for the gold.
7. Greece: Ouzo
This licorice-flavored classic Greek spirit is a perfect drink to enjoy alongside Mediterranean-climate weather. When mixed with water or ice, this clear spirit turns a milky white because of the anise extract in the liquor.
1 shot ouzo
Fill rocks glass with ice. Pour ouzo over ice, stir, and sip alongside mezéthes.
How It’s Healthier: No sugary mixers!
8. Peru: Pisco Sour
This classic Peruvian cocktail can be found on the menus of many a trendy American cocktail bar, featuring the gold crown of any fancy vintage cocktail: egg whites. The other key to this drink? Pisco, Peruvian brandy-like liquor made from grapes.
2 shots pisco (Feeling Peruvian? Try Don Cesar Pisco Puro)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 small egg white
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker. Fill with ice. Shake for 20-30 seconds. Strain into glass, and enjoy the frothy treat! (Bonus: If you have some bitters on hand, sprinkle on top.)
How It’s Healthier: Protein from the egg white is a great healthy addition, and we cut back on the sugar a bit.
9. Singapore: The Singapore Sling
This fruity, sweet, classically tropical cocktail was first invented by a bartender at a famous hotel in Singapore to appeal to the British visitors who were looking for a tropical drink that ladies could palette, too.
1 shot gin
½ shot Cointreau
1 shot pineapple juice
1/2 a lime, juiced
1 dash grenadine
1 splash of soda water
A cherry, pineapple triangle, and orange slice for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, and add gin, Cointreau, pineapple juice, lime juice, and grenadine. Shake until well chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice and top with soda water. Garnish with fruit slices and enjoy (preferably by a pool somewhere).
How It’s Healthier: This one can be a calorie killer! We cut out the sugar, cut back on grenadine, added soda water instead of a lemon-lime soda. And opt for a fresh cherry instead of a maraschino.
10. Brazil: Caipirinha (pronounced kai-pee-reen-ya)
First thing’s first: It’s not a caipirinha without Cachaça (kuh-sha-suh), a sweet Brazilian rum-like liquor made from sugarcane juice. This traditional spirit was most likely first produced back in the 1500s when sugar cane was introduced to the region.
1 shot Cachaça (Feeling Brazilian? Try the Leblon brand)
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
2 lime wedges
Soda water (optional)
In the bottom of a glass, muddle the lime wedges and sugar until well mixed, about 20 seconds. Add ice, cachaça, and soda water. Give it a quick stir, and enjoy.
How It’s Healthier: Cut back on sugar. Other than that, this one’s a pretty simple healthier option regardless.
Take a little vacation to Havana with this classic Caribbean cocktail. Hey, if it’s good enough for Earnest Hemmingway and James Bond, it’s good enough for me.
1 handful fresh mint (about 10 leaves)
½ a lime, cut into small wedges
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1 shot white rum (Feeling Cuban? Try Havana Club)
2 shots soda water
In the bottom of a glass, muddle the mint, lime, and sugar until well blended and juicy. Add to a cocktail shaker with ice and rum, and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour into glass, top with club soda, give it a stir, and enjoy.
How It’s Healthier: We added more mint, cut back a bit on sugar, and added an extra shot of soda water.
12. Italy: Negroni
Any cocktail that gets its start because a patron wanted a stronger drink gets an A+ in our book. The patron, Count Camillo Negroni, asked the bartender to add gin rather than the normal soda water to his Americano.
1 shot gin
½ shot Campari
½ shot sweet vermouth
1 orange twist
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine gin, Campari, and vermouth. Shake until chilled, about 30 seconds. Serve in a martini glass with the orange zest twist, or in a rocks glass over ice.
How It’s Healthier: We cut back a bit on booze. Sorry, but it’s still a deliciously potent drink!
13. Spain: Tinto de Verano
Think of this as an easier, less labor-intensive sangria. The name translates to “red wine of summer,” so you know it’s perfect for sipping while watching the Games.
6oz Spanish red wine (like a rioja)
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 lemon wedge
Combine the juice from the lemon and lime and the wine in a glass with ice.Top with soda water, give it a stir, and garnish with a lemon wedge.
How It’s Healthier: This drink is a much healthier version of the classic sangria for a few reasons: No added sugar, no added liquor, and no sugary fruit (citrus only!).
*Note: Each recipe below makes one drink.
What’s your favorite international cocktail? Share with us in the comments below!