Most of us have been in this situation before: we arrive at cocktail hour, only to realize we’re hungry. Maybe we’re coming off of a long stressful workday that didn’t afford us the time for an afternoon snack, or we’re saving our appetites for a dinner we’ve got planned later that night. Either way, our bellies are growling right now, and while a drink is always a treat, consuming booze when you haven’t yet eaten is always a little risky.

Here are five of our favorite beverages for drinking on an empty stomach, ones that are relatively low in alcohol and won’t leave you woozy, and can even help to temper without fully quenching your appetite.

Campari and Soda


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Bitter liqueurs such as Campari draw their flavors from a variety of herbal sources, but generally, the bitterness comes from such ingredients as quinine, gentian, and similar herbs. Campari and soda is a popular, easy-going drink in Europe, and is quickly catching on as a light pre-dinner drink in the States.

Aperol Spritz


This cocktail is a mix of Aperol bitter liqueur, Prosecco, and club soda. Similar to Campari but a little sweeter, Aperol offers a unique taste since its derived from a mix of herbs and roots. Low in alcohol, this is a perfect aperitif to consume before heading off to dinner.

Pimm’s Cup


One of Britain’s best contributions to the drinking world, this classic fruit cooler is both refreshing and sophisticated. It’s very popular as a summer drink, along with Champagne, it’s the official drink of Wimbledon, and it has a relatively low alcohol content, so you can enjoy a couple of tall cool ones while still remaining clear-headed.


A shandy is a blend of beer and either fruit juice or soda. It’s light on alcohol and very refreshing, providing you with the full taste of beer while undercutting the heaviness.

Vermouth and Soda


Vermouth and soda is a classic low-alcohol, yet delicious drink, thanks to Vermouth’s complexity. Like Campari and soda, it’s long been enjoyed throughout Europe, and it’s time that more of us caught on to it as well! It works well with both white and red Vermouth, so simply pick the flavors you enjoy more.