Cocktails are alcoholic drinks. They consist of one or more types of spirits mixed with other ingredients. They are sometimes called mixed drinks. Beer and wine are other forms of alcoholic beverages.
Cocktails contain extra calories that you may not have been counting if you are trying to lose weight. Cutting back on how much you drink and choosing lower-calorie options may help to avoid undesired weight gain and improve your overall health.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines a standard drink as a drink containing roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol. This amount can be found in:
- 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol
- 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE OPTIONS
For beer and wine, try choosing lower-calorie options, such as:
- 12 ounces (oz), or 355 mL, light beer: 105 calories
- 12 oz (355 mL) Guinness Draught beer: 125 calories
- 2 oz (59 mL) Sherry wine: 75 calories
- 2 oz (59 mL) Port wine: 90 calories
- 4 oz (118 mL) Champagne: 85 calories
- 3 oz (88 mL) dry vermouth: 105 calories
- 5 oz (148 mL) red wine: 125 calories
- 5 oz (148 mL) white wine: 120 calories
Limit higher-calorie options, such as:
- 12 oz (355 mL) regular beer: 145 calories
- 12 oz (355 mL) craft beer: 170 calories or more
- 3.5 oz (104 mL) sweet wine: 165 calories
- 3 oz (88 mL) sweet vermouth: 140 calories
Keep in mind that "craft" beers often contain more calories than commercial beers. This is because they may have more carbohydrates and extra ingredients that add up to a richer flavor -- and more calories.
To get an idea of how many calories are in a can or bottle of beer, read the label and pay attention to:
- Fluid oz (serving size)
- Alcohol by Volume (ABV)
- Calories (if listed)
Choose beers that have fewer calories per serving and pay attention to how many servings are in the bottle or can.
Beers that have a higher ABV number will have more calories.
Many restaurants and bars serve beer in a pint, which is 16 oz and therefore contains more beer and calories than a 12-ounce (355 mL) glass. (For example, a pint of Guinness contains 210 calories.) So order a half pint or smaller pours instead.
Distilled spirits and liqueurs are often mixed with other juices and mixes to make cocktails. They are the base of the drink.
One "shot" (1.5 oz or 44 mL) of:
- 80-proof gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, or tequila each contain 100 calories
- Brandy or cognac contains 100 calories
- Liqueurs contain 165 calories
The calories in common mixed drinks as they are typically served are below:
- 9 oz (266 mL) Piña Colada: 490 calories
- 4 oz (118 mL) Margarita: 170 calories
- 3.5 oz (104 mL) Manhattan: 165 calories
- 3.5 oz (104 mL) Whiskey sour: 160 calories
- 2.75 oz (81 mL) Cosmopolitan: 145 calories
- 6 oz (177 mL) Mojito: 145 calories
- 2.25 oz (67 mL) Martini (extra dry): 140 calories
- 2.25 oz (67 mL) Martini (traditional): 125 calories
- 2 oz (59 mL) Daquiri: 110 calories
Pay attention to the size of your drink since this will affect its caloric content.
Mixers can add up in terms of calories. It is best to choose fresh, mixed drinks with low-sugar sweeteners, herbs, whole fruits, and vegetable mixers. If you enjoy mixed drinks, think about how you can use fresh, low-calorie mixers for taste. Almost anything can be put in your blender and added to a distilled spirit.
TIPS FOR WATCHING YOUR CALORIES
Here are some tips for watching your calories:
- Use diet tonic, no-sugar added juices, and low-sugar sweeteners, such as agave, to reduce sugar content, or use a calorie-free mixer such as club soda or seltzer. Lemonade and lightly sweetened iced tea, for example, have fewer calories than regular fruit drinks. Diet options have even lower amounts of sugar.
- Avoid sugary, powdered drink mixes. Use herbs or fruit or vegetables to add flavor.
- Have a plan for ordering low-calorie cocktails at restaurants.
- Ask for extra ice.
- Make half drinks, or mini-drinks, in small glassware.
- If you choose to drink alcohol, have only 1 or 2 drinks per day. Women should have no more than one drink a day. Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day. Pace yourself by alternating alcoholic beverages with water.
Look for nutrition facts labels on bottles and cans of alcohol.
WHEN TO CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR
Talk with your doctor if you are having trouble controlling your drinking.
Low-calorie spirits; Low-calorie mixed drinks; Low-calorie alcohol; Low-calorie alcoholic beverages; Weight loss - low-calorie cocktails; Obesity - low-calorie cocktails
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Rethink your drink. www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/drinks.html. Updated June 7, 2022. Accessed June 13, 2022.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. What is a standard drink? www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink. Accessed June 13, 2022.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Alcohol calorie calculator. www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/tools/calculators/calorie-calculator.aspx. Accessed June 13, 2022.
Review Date 6/22/2022
Updated by: Stefania Manetti, RD/N, CDCES, RYT200, My Vita Sana LLC - Nourish and heal through food, San Jose, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.