Diabetes and cocktails: with or without alcohol?


When you live with diabetes and just feel like having a cocktail, you can often feel like you’re faced with an equation with two risky factors. In one corner, you have alcohol which has a hypoglycemic effect, and in the other corner, you have fruit juices and syrups which are high in sugars. So, you’re right, it’s not always easy to navigate. 

The current “alcohol- and sugar-free” trend may make things easier. Whatever… 

We’re here to help you figure it out.

Alcohol and sugar: memo 

Cocktail menus are usually sources of great temptations. Classic recipes along with unique new takes, a host of colors and tasty-looking garnishes… Cocktails are always tempting. 

Even when it’s “just” a cocktail, when you’re living with diabetes, the main questions remain the same. Alcohol has a hypoglycemic effect. But what are cocktails made of besides alcohol? Sugar! The various syrups, the fruit juices… You need to take it all into account when calculating your boluses to avoid big glycemic variations. 

Cosmopolitan, Margarita, Sex on the Beach, Mojito… Exactly how much sugar is there in these well-known cocktails? Here’s a quick memo to help you see what’s what! 

Tequila Sunrise 19 g per 100 ml
Long Island Iced Tea 18 g per 100 ml
Mojito 17 g per 100 ml
Pina Colada 15 g per 100 ml
Sex on the Beach 14 g per 100 ml
Cuba Libre 11 g per 100 ml
Gin Fizz 11 g per 100 ml
Kamikaze 10 g per 100 ml
Cosmopolitan 9 g per 100 ml
Planter Punch 9 g per 100 ml
Margarita 6 g per 100 ml
Bloody Mary 5 g per 100 ml

Warning: This doesn’t include any candy or other treats that may be used as garnishes. ?

Of course, these cocktails should be enjoyed in moderation. To avoid becoming dehydrated, don’t forget to drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink (eating ice cubes works, too).

Alcohol-free cocktails, or even sugar-free cocktails? Yes, they really do exist! 

They’re even on-trend! 

Alcohol-free cocktails made using fruit juices can be just as delicious as their alcoholic counterparts. You’ll just need to remember the following sugar quantities:

Apple juice 10 g per 100 ml
Orange juice 9.6 g per 100 ml
Mint syrup 77 g per 100 ml
Grenadine syrup 76 g per 100 ml
Agave syrup 76 g per 100 ml

However, when you don’t want alcohol or sugar, your choices can be even more limited. Other than the traditional coffees, teas, infusions and mineral waters, there aren’t many tempting drink options. But that’s just because you don’t know about them (yet)!

Most big soda and syrup brands have created “zero sugar” ranges (using aspartame or stevia). Using them instead of traditional sodas and syrups can be a great way to make lighter cocktails.

From the better-known options (honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, coconut syrup) to the more original ones (rice syrup, xylitol or even rapadura sugar), there are many natural alternatives to sugar out there. Take stevia, for example. To dose it, you need to halve the quantity of sugar to get the quantity of stevia needed to recreate the same taste. If a recipe says you need 50 g of sugar, you’ll just need to add 25 g of stevia.

It’s worth noting that in big cities, some bars offer various alcohol-free cocktails, with more and more sugar-free options. You know what? These new cocktails absolutely match up to the traditional mojitos and pina coladas.

Alcohol- and sugar-free recipe idea

Lemon/mint iced tea

Serves 4 


  • 6 tbs lemon tea
  • 1 small bunch of mint
  • 1 lemon
  • 800 ml water


  1. Infuse the tea and the mint leaves in cold water for 1 hour (or longer if you like your tea stronger). Stir regularly.
  2. Strain the entire mix and add the lemon juice or lemon slices, whichever you prefer.
  3. Leave to chill in the fridge for several hours, until it’s cool enough for your taste.


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