Say Cheers to Slimmed Down Cocktails

Now that you're watching your calories, are you worried you'll be the only person not toasting on New Year's Eve? Worry no more. There's no need to be a teetotaler on the most festive night of the year. All you have to do is make wise choices when it comes to drinking.

"One drink" doesn't mean a jumbo-size frozen strawberry margarita with an extra shot of tequila. Standard drinks are 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer and 1-1/2 ounces of liquor or spirits. And while it's easy to know what you're drinking when you choose wine or beer, mixed drinks are often a mystery when it comes to portions and ingredients. Most bars and restaurants are liberal with their drink pours, so it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with what these serving sizes look like. In addition, here are 12 tips every calorie counter needs to know about cocktails:
  • Choose a lower proof liquor. All liquors with the same "proof" (percentage of alcohol by volume) have roughly the same calories. The lower the proof, the fewer calories a liquor has (and the less potent it will be). For example, 80 proof vodka (and other 80-proof liquors) has 65 calories an ounce; 100 proof liquor has about 80 calories an ounce.
  • Stay far, far away from frozen drinks. Chain restaurants serve oversize drinks that often have more calories than a dessert!
  • Avoid premade drink mixes, which are usually nothing more than corn syrup and artificial flavors and sweeteners. Make your own so you can control the calories and choose healthier ingredients.
  • Skip the mixer and save calories by ordering a flavor-infused liquor (such as raspberry vodka or coconut rum) over ice or with a squeeze of lime.
  • Make the switch to soda water if you're a vodka or gin and tonic fan. Tonic water has 90 calories per cup, but soda water is calorie-free. A lime or lemon can add flavor without calories.
  • Dilute your wine with soda water to make a wine spritzer. You'll stay hydrated, and a spritzer made with three ounces of wine only has 60 calories.
  • Alternate between alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages (like water or juice) to keep yourself hydrated. You'll drink fewer calories with this technique and allow your body more time to metabolize the alcohol.
  • Avoid fancy cocktails and martinis. They're calorie bombs! All the bells and whistles that go along with a martini—the flavored sugar on the rim, the syrup decorating the glass, and the garnishes—add extra calories. While a regular martini (vodka or gin with a bit of vermouth) has about 130 calories, a key lime martini can have 230 calories, and a chocolate martini can add up to a whopping 450 calories. That's like drinking a dessert!
  • Stick with clear (non-creamy) martinis. While flavored martinis like Key lime are delicious, they contain two tablespoons of heavy cream in each glass.
  • Choose low-calorie or calorie free mixers. The following chart can help you make diet-friendly choices:
Mixer (serving size) Calories
Diet soda 0
Diet tonic 0
Coffee or tea 0
Sugar-free syrups 0
Sugar-free margarita mix 0
Sugar-free sweet 'n sour mix 0
Light lemonade (8 oz) 5
Lemon or lime juice (0.5 oz) 10
Light cranberry juice (8 oz) 40
Light orange juice (8 oz) 50
Orange juice (8 oz) 85
Cranberry juice (8 oz) 140

  • Stretch your sparkling wine and save calories with these low-cal champagne cocktails (you can use any type of sparkling wine in place of the champagne):
 Drink  Ingredients  Calories
 Mimosa  1 oz orange juice, 3 oz champagne 75
 Poinsettia  1/4 shot triple sec, dash cranberry juice, 3 oz champagne 90
 Bellini  2 oz peach puree, 4 oz Prosecco 105

  • Beware of these high-calorie cocktails, including a few seasonal drinks that pack a big punch:
 Drink (serving size)  Calories
 Pina Colada (8 oz)  505
 Chocolate martini 450
 Hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps (8 oz) 380
 Eggnog with rum (8 oz) 370
 Coffee liqueur (3 oz) 348
 Godiva chocolate liqueur (3 oz) 310
 Hot buttered rum (8 oz) 300
 Long Island Iced Tea (8 oz) 290
 Margarita (8 oz) 280
 White Russian (6 oz) 250
 Mojito (8 oz) 215
 Cosmopolitan (4 oz) 215
 Martini (2.5 oz) 160
 Screwdriver (made with 80 proof vodka) 160
 Green apple martini 150
 Spiced cider with rum (8 oz) 150
 Manhattan (made with 80 proof liquor) 130

Now that you know what you're sipping, enjoy your evening! New Year's Eve only comes around once a year, so make the most of it. Eat (moderately), drink (responsibly), and be merry! Cheers!