Does Long Drink have sugar?

Long drinks are a popular category of mixed drinks that consist of spirits and sodas or juices. They tend to have a lower alcohol content than short drinks like shots or neat spirits. One of the most well-known long drinks is the Long Island Iced Tea, made with vodka, rum, gin, tequila, and triple sec topped with cola. But another popular long drink is simply called Long Drink.

What is Long Drink?

Long Drink is a premixed cocktail that originated in Finland. It’s made with grapefruit soda and gin. The name “long drink” refers to the idea that it’s a drink meant to be slowly sipped and savored over time, unlike a shot that is consumed quickly. Brands like Hartwall sell premade Long Drink cans and bottles that are ready to enjoy.

The origins of Long Drink date back to the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. The country wanted to serve refreshing cocktails to visitors but did not have the inventory of citrus fruits needed for typical drinks like gin and tonics or Tom Collins at the time. So they devised the simple but tasty combination of grapefruit soda and gin that became known as Long Drink.

Today, Long Drink is widely available in Nordic countries and increasingly sold globally as a canned premixed cocktail. The concept is to provide an easy, convenient cocktail experience from a can or bottle. It’s seen as a light, fruity summer drink that isn’t overly alcoholic.

Nutrition Facts for Long Drink

When looking at the nutrition facts for Long Drink, the first thing that stands out is the sugar content. A standard 250ml can of Long Drink contains 26g of sugar. This is a significant amount, more than a can of regular Coca-Cola which contains 27g of sugar per 300ml can.

Here is the full nutrition information for a 250ml can of Long Drink:

  • Calories: 153
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbs: 17g
  • Sugar: 26g
  • Protein: 0g

The main source of calories and carbohydrates in Long Drink comes from the high sugar content. There are 17g of carbohydrates per can, and 26g of that is pure sugar. There is no fat, protein, or fiber in the drink. The alcohol content provides some additional calories at around 79 calories per can.

The ingredients list also confirms that sugar is added to Long Drink: carbonated water, grapefruit juice from concentrate (25%), sugar, gin (1.8%), citric acid, flavorings, preservative (potassium sorbate), sweeteners (acesulfame K, sucralose), and color (riboflavin). So while grapefruit juice provides some natural sugars, additional sugar syrup is added as well.

Sugar Content Compared to Other Cocktails

Compared to other popular cocktails and mixer drinks, Long Drink is on the high side for sugar content:

Drink Sugar per 250ml serving
Long Drink 26g
Rum and Coke 35g
Gin and Tonic 17g
Vodka Soda 0g
Mojito 30g

A rum and Coke or Mojito contains slightly more sugar than a Long Drink. But a simple gin and tonic or vodka soda contains significantly less. So while Long Drink doesn’t have the highest amount of sugar compared to mixed drinks, it’s on the higher end.

Does Long Drink Contain Artificial Sweeteners?

In addition to regular sugar, Long Drink contains some artificial sweeteners. Looking again at the ingredients list:

Sweeteners (acesulfame K, sucralose)

Acesulfame potassium (acesulfame K) and sucralose are both artificial sweeteners added to the Long Drink formula. These are calorie-free sweeteners that provide additional sweetness without extra sugar and calories. This allows Long Drink to have an intensely sweet, sugary taste without needing even higher amounts of actual sugar.

Is Long Drink Considered a Healthy Drink?

Given its high sugar content and addition of artificial sweeteners, Long Drink would not be considered a healthy drink choice:

  • The 26g of sugar per can is over 50% of the recommended daily limit for added sugars for adult women (25g).
  • There are no beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, or antioxidants.
  • Artificial sweeteners like acesulfame K and sucralose are controversial ingredients linked to health concerns in some studies.
  • The grapefruit flavor comes from concentrate rather than fresh juice.

Occasional, moderate consumption of Long Drink is fine for most healthy adults. But it should not be considered a healthy everyday beverage choice due to its high sugar content from both natural and artificial sources.

Is There a Low Sugar or Sugar Free Long Drink?

Currently Long Drink does not offer a low sugar or sugar free version. The formula sold by Hartwall and other brands contains 26g of sugar per can. There is no diet, light, or zero sugar Long Drink option at this time.

However, it would be possible to recreate a lower sugar Long Drink at home:

  • Use diet tonic or soda water instead of regular grapefruit soda for fewer calories and sugar.
  • Add fresh grapefruit juice instead of concentrate.
  • Use simple syrup or agave nectar instead of plain white sugar.
  • Flavor with fresh mint and citrus slices.

Experimenting with fresh ingredients and lower glycemic sweeteners could result in a Long Drink that retains the classic flavor while reducing the amount of added sugars. But when it comes to the premixed canned product, sugar is an integral component of the official formula.

Does the Sugar Counteract the Alcohol?

One perspective is that the high sugar content helps counteract some effects of the alcohol in Long Drink. The combination of sugar and alcohol may:

  • Make the drink seem smoother and less harsh than straight liquor
  • Provide a sense of quick energy to balance the depressant effects of alcohol
  • Increase drinkability by masking the taste of pure alcohol

However, the risks of high alcohol and sugar consumption together may outweigh potential benefits. Consuming substantial sugar with alcohol can:

  • Increase calorie intake leading to weight gain
  • Raise triglycerides and blood sugar levels
  • Worsen dehydration and hangover symptoms
  • Potentially contribute to addictive drinking behaviors

Moderation is key – while the sugar may counteract some alcohol effects short-term, over time excess consumption of both ingredients can have negative health impacts.

Is the Sugar Content Appropriate?

Opinions vary on whether Long Drink’s high sugar content is appropriate or excessive:

Pros of the high sugar content:

  • Sugar balances the bitterness of alcohol
  • Gives the drink a nice fruity flavor
  • 26g of sugar is comparable to other mixed drinks
  • The drink is meant to be enjoyed in moderation, not daily

Cons of the high sugar content:

  • Excessive sugar intake is unhealthy
  • Artificial sweeteners are unnecessary
  • Sets a poor example for other RTD cocktails
  • People may unconsciously consume multiple cans

Given public health concerns over added sugar intake, an argument could be made for reducing or replacing the sugar in Long Drink. But the sugar content is in line with typical cocktail standards, where sweetened mixers are common. Overall the high sugar levels may be excessive from a nutrition standpoint but appropriate for the product’s positioning as an occasionally indulgent cocktail.

Should Long Drink Reformulate for Less Sugar?

Here are some pros and cons for Long Drink potentially reformulating its recipe to contain less sugar:

Pros of less sugar:

  • Broaden appeal for health-conscious consumers
  • Reduce calories, carbs, and glycemic impact
  • Use more fresh juices and natural ingredients
  • Get ahead of potential soda taxes or warnings

Cons of less sugar:

  • Change distinctive flavor profile
  • Lose differentiation from other drinks
  • Reduce smoothness and drinkability
  • Impact branding and marketing

Reducing the sugar would create a “healthier” long drink but likely compromise traits like the flavor, sweetness, and mixability. For a brand predicated on being a delicious, easy-drinking cocktail, reformulating to lower the sugar significantly could be a risky move. However, some modest adjustments could maintain the key qualities while slightly improving the nutrition facts.


Long Drink clearly contains significant amounts of added sugar at 26g per can, which makes up the majority of its carbohydrate and calorie content. This level of sugar is higher than many low-calorie mixers but on par with most classic cocktails. While the sweetness balances the alcohol bite, it adds empty calories and excess sweetness according to health standards. In the future, slight adjustments to lower the sugar amount while preserving the flavor may appeal to consumers concerned about sugar intake. However, dramatic changes would alter the core identity of Long Drink. Moderation and occasional indulgence remains the healthiest approach for enjoying this sugary canned cocktail.

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