No cocktail order is wrong per se—but some are better than others if you’re trying to slim down for beach season. Unfortunately, figuring out which drinks are actually waistline-friendly may be harder than you suspect. Some cocktails masquerade as healthier than they really are. Here, a few unexpected diet-killers.
While a human bartender might shake up a diet-friendly mix of tequila, fresh lime juice and agave syrup, the slushy Margaritas that emerge from a machine are more sugar bombs than cocktails. They might seem like icy, okay-for-you treats, but a giant goblet-ful of the lime-flavored snow clocks in at over 150 grams of sugar and 600 calories. Tread carefully, especially when the slushy Margs are listed on menus next to items like Doritos Locos Enchiladas and a picture of an anthropomorphized cactus wearing a sombrero.
Strong, Stirred Drinks
Since a neat pour is about the healthiest you can get with full ABV booze, it would be fair to assume that booze-forward stirred drinks like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan are fairly healthy. But the world isn’t fair, and these cocktails are not your diet’s friend. Not only is there a whole sugar cube lying at the bottom of that Old Fashioned and a brandied, candied cherry at the bottom of that Manhattan, but there are two to three (or more, depending on how friendly your bartender is) ounces of straight alcohol in there. Have more than one and you’ll start racking up calories fast. Plus, you’re more liable to get tipsy and start craving those Doritos Locos Enchiladas you saw at yesterday’s happy hour.
Coconut is the ingredient de rigueur in every “healthy” smoothie or grain bowl nowadays—but not all coconut is good for you. Coconut cream (and coconut milk) rivals any dairy cream when it comes to fat content, so don’t think you’re getting off light by swapping in a coco-based substitute. Any drink with Coco Lopez or its ilk will clog your arteries quicker than a blender churns out a frozen cocktail. That Painkiller may not be so painless after all.
Skyscraper-Tall Soda Drinks
Dark fizzy soda cocktails all tend to look the same, but the caloric beasts lurking within are not all equal. Though some may say a ginger beer-filled Chilcano or Coke-topped Cuba Libre won’t do any more damage to you than a standard bottle of soda, the fact is the more alcohol you add to soda, the worse it gets for your waistline. Take the Long Island Iced Tea, a decorum-defying mixture of all the booze topped with lemon and Coke, for example. The drink has a reputation for its extremely high ABV and propensity to get the party started, but all those ingredients—often including pre-made sour mix and soda—give way to one seriously calorie and sugar-packed drink. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Energy Drink Cocktails
A little (or a lot of) caffeine in your cocktail isn’t such a health faux pas. After all, we could all use a little help rousing the energy for that 3 a.m. rave session that everyone is going to. But go light on the energy drinks and Vodka-Redbulls—researchers have found that the combination of intense uppers and downers affects your brain much like cocaine. Plus, all that late night raging will likely lead to even later night drunchies. Our advice? Stick to an Irish Coffee if you need an energy boost.
It comes in the tiniest of cups and takes but a moment to drink—what damage could a tiny shot do to anybody? It turns out, more than you think. There are about 100 calories in the average 1.5-ounce shot of vodka, but that number quickly rises when sugary liqueurs get involved: The B52, for one, packs more calories than an entire glass of neat spirit. A night rarely ends in a single round of shots, so while an individual toast may not set back your gains at the gym, more than that may gang up on you in a serious way. Shots may be tiny, but they’re seriously deadly.