You have heard this before: alcohol is just empty calories – meaning, you get no nutrition, no vitamins, no minerals, no gut helping roughage from them. So they are bad enough for us. But there is something that’s worse actually – cocktails. Yes, those pretty pretty drinks inflict even bigger damage, as many of them are loaded with sugar, fruit syrups, fruit juice, sugarcoated berries, myriad other concoctions, and often and even ice cream. Yes! Transcending the calories and fat right into the stratosphere.
So the idea should be to know the good and the bad (calorie wise) about cocktails and then make a judicious choice.
Yes, pick your umbrella glass carefully!
Here’s What NOT to Drink
This is actually more of a dessert (or a milkshake) but with lots of alcohol: Kahlua coffee liqueur, Bailey’s Irish cream and ice cream (and chocolate syrup drizzled on top). Whoa!
Calorie Meter: Between 600-850 calories
Long Island Iced Tea
Made usually with the three or five different kinds of alcohol – vodka, tequila, rum, gin and triple sec, sugar and cola, there is no actual tea in this. Absolutely none!
Calorie Meter: 800 calories per glass
This lethal combination of tequila, sweetened premix and triple sec is quite a favourite, but they are truly a nutritional nightmare.
Calorie Meter: Over 700 calories
This white-chocolate flavoured thin mint blended with vodka sounds super good to you but comes with a rather hefty calorie count.
Calorie Meter: 500 calories plus
A delicious drink made from rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice, brown sugar… Difficult to resist, I know, but maybe leave this for the day you really, really want a splurge!
Calorie Meter: 650 calories
Vodka, coffee liquer, heavy cream.
Calorie Meter: 425 calories
A potent mix of two kinds of rum (light and dark), crème de almond, triple sec, pineapple juice, sweetened premix or sugar.
Calorie Meter: About 350 calories per glass
What To Drink
With drinks, the calories add up really fast. So learn to mix carefully and smartly. There are two basic rules to make them healthier: use fresh ingredients instead of an overkill of sugar and artificial flavours. Try to max the antioxidants, vitamins, and fibre. For example, throwing a half-cup of pineapple chunks into a piña colada gives you twice as much filling fibre than if you used syrup or juice. It also adds volume, texture, and a more natural flavour.
This is my recommendation No. 1. Three ounces of club soda and 3 ounces of wine and you are sorted (and the smartest in the room).
Calorie Meter: 60 calories
Wash a lime, cut it in 8 cubes, and put it in a shaker. Add 2 teaspoons of jaggery and 30ml of Brazilian Cachaca/vodka. Crush the lime until all the lime juice is pressed out. Fill with ice cubes. Shake it all up and top with soda.
Calorie Meter: 100-odd calories
This is a treat! Made with 15ml lime juice, 1 teaspoon sugar and 45ml green apple vodka.
Calorie Meter: Less than 140 calories
Spoon peach puree to the bottom of a champagne flute and fill to the top with champagne. Cheers!
Calorie Meter: 120 calories
Fresh fruit, club soda and wine – such a delightful drink.
Calorie Meter: 80 calories
Calorie Meter: About 100 calories per shot!
A standard BM would take you back by 120 calories but look at it this way, it will fill you up on antioxidants. (Those who need to watch their salt intake should be careful though.)
Calorie Meter: 120 calories
A good pick mostly. Made with rum, club soda, limejuice, sugar, and a few fresh mint sprigs; if you can keep sugar down then this one is a calorie conscious guy’s first choice.
Calorie Meter: 140 calories
One part fresh orange juice and one part champagne. This is a vitamin C loaded option.
Calorie Meter: 130 calories
This is one classy cocktail where you can control the damage. When made with 1.5 oz vodka it is affirmatively not to be missed at 150 calories. But be careful, as they can vary in size and alcohol content.
Calorie Meter: Around 150 to 200 calories
Finally, the best option according to me:
Gin and tonics. Well, they do have a slightly bitter taste, but it’s nothing a wedge of lime can’t cure. And yes, you can add the prettiest umbrella to the glass.
(All calorie counts are approximate and may vary)
(Kavita Devgan is a weight management consultant, nutritionist, health columnist and author of ‘Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People’.)