Food & Recipes

We Tasted New Low-Calorie Vodkas From Smirnoff And Ketel One And Here’s The Verdict

There's only 70 calories in a serving!

The second most wonderful time of the year is officially here: barbecue season! The grill is fired up, the potato salad is made and now it’s time for cocktails.

But with all the food you’ll no doubt be consuming this summer, it’s probably a good idea to keep your drinks as “healthy” as possible. Mixed drinks can add up quickly in not only alcohol content, but also in calories, sugar and even carbs, so they are probably not the world’s healthiest indulgences. But, luckily for us, two popular vodka brands have introduced new flavors you can check out if you want something fruity, refreshing and healthier than your typical liquor choices.

Ketel One Botanical and Smirnoff Zero Sugar are low-calorie options with around 70 calories in a serving of each and also no artificial flavors, sugar or carbs. Plus, they all still pack around 30% alcohol by volume.

Ketel One’s vodka is distilled with real botanicals and infused with natural flavors, while Smirnoff’s is infused with natural flavors and the essence of real botanicals. Both come in three flavors, with Ketel One offering grapefruit & rose, cucumber & mint, peach & orange blossom, and Smirnoff offering watermelon & mint, cucumber & lime and strawberry & rose.

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How Do They Taste?

I tasted all of them to find the best one, so you can be confident in your next botanical booze purchase. I drank all of them in very little amounts with some water in between because, honestly, six full shots of straight vodka is just not a good idea.

While I can genuinely say none of them tasted artificial and I would definitely buy them all, Ketel One’s cucumber & mint and Smirnoff’s watermelon & mint topped the list, with Ketel One winning overall. I really like mint drinks in the summer though, so I may lean a bit in that direction whenever it’s an option.

Image: Ketel One/Illusration: Simplemost

Runner-up outside of the mint category is Ketel One’s grapefruit & rose, followed closely by Smirnoff’s strawberry & rose. I can honestly say I had never had anything rose flavored (not to be confused with rosé, because I’ve definitely had that), and it was surprisingly not only interesting but really good. I actually went back for a second shot of both. (To answer your question — yes, I had a good night).

None of them had an overpowering vodka taste, so if you don’t really like the taste of alcohol or vodka in general, these would be a good option. Though a few of them did have a slight burn, keep in mind, I was drinking them neat, so it will not be as strong mixed with something like soda water.

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How Are They In Cocktails?

I already had everything on hand for Ketel One’s recommended bees knees cocktail and as a fan of old sayings, this was definitely the one for me. It calls for Ketel One’s Botanical peach & orange blossom, lemon juice, honey and chilled chamomile tea. While I usually drink chamomile tea and honey on its own before bed, I would have never thought it could be made better with vodka.

If you’ve ever had chamomile, you know it can be pretty strong. In this drink, however, the peach and orange in the vodka muddle the chamomile flavor, so it’s a nice mix and not overpowering with either flavor. It honestly didn’t even taste like alcohol to me. It is definitely being added to my list of go-to cocktails! Here’s the full recipe:

Bee’s Knees

  • 2 ounces Ketel One Botanical Peach & Orange Blossom
  • .75 ounces lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3.5 ounces chilled chamomile tea to top

Ketel One

If chamomile tea isn’t your thing, this mint summer splash cocktail from Smirnoff sounds incredibly refreshing. It calls for Smirnoff watermelon & mint zero-sugar infusions, watermelon sparkling water, watermelon juice, club soda and mint leaves for garnish.

Mint Summer Splash

  • 2 ounces Smirnoff watermelon & mint zero-sugar infusions
  • 2 ounces watermelon sparkling water
  • 1 ounce bottled watermelon juice
  • 1 ounce club soda
  • Mint leaves for garnish

Fill a tall cocktail glass with ice. In a cocktail stirring glass, combine the Smirnoff watermelon & mint zero-sugar infusion, watermelon sparkling water, watermelon juice, and club soda. Stir well. Pour over ice. Garnish with mint leaves.

Smirnoff

While not infused with botanicals, I couldn’t do a fruity vodka story without mentioning Effen’s new yuzu citrus vodka, as I also had it recently and it, too, was unlike anything I’d tasted before. Yuzu is a Japanese fruit whose flavor is described as resembling a combination of lemon and grapefruit, so it has citrus flavors, but is also sweet.

I again drank it straight, but Effen suggests also serving it with grapefruit club soda. Plus, the bottle itself is super cool!

EFFEN Vodka

I know there are a lot of choices here (which is totally not a bad thing!), but which new vodka flavor is topping your list of ones you’d like to try this summer?