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Just How Many Calories Are Really In That Cocktail?

by Cheryl Forberg, RD on December 31, 2011

We all know by now that drinking and dieting don’t mix too well, but during the holiday season for many of us a few cocktails with friends here and there are inevitable. At one such gathering, where a friend served his delicious homemade egg nog, I stopped to think about what was in the drink I was enjoying. Now, nobody labors under the misconception that egg nog is good for them, but I wondered exactly how many calories were in our glasses.

He shared the recipe and I took it home for some statistical analysis. Made with whole cream, eggs, sugar (many store bought brands are loaded with corn syrup and may be even higher in calories), and rum and brandy the drink weighed in at a whopping 400 calories per 8 ounce glass.

That’s, of course, not anything someone who’s on a calorie budget to lose weight would want to drink, but it’s important for all of us to stop and think about what we’re putting in our bodies and how it might fit into (or not fit into) our diets.

For instance: Each New Year’s toast has 150 calories per 6 ounce flute of bubbly. 

Alcohol is already high in calories: a single ounce of gin,rum, vodka, whisky or tequila has between 50 and 90 calories, while liqueurs (such as Cointreau or Kahlua) may have more than 180 calories an ounce (and the average cocktail contains two ounces of alcohol).

Add in sugary soft drinks and other mixers and the calories start to pile up quickly.

When we are drinking egg nog or hot buttered rum at a party, we’re likely not kidding ourselves that it’s low in calories. But there are even times when we might think we’ve chosen the lighter option when we’re really imbibing a calorie bomb.

Case in point: Did you know that tonic water contains a ton of sugar? In fact, 8 ounces of tonic water has 94 calories and 22 grams of sugar (the equivalent of two heaping tablespoons of sugar).  This can easily double the amount of calories in your cocktail. So, next time you think you’ll have a “light” G & T, you might want to swap the tonic out for soda water (which has zero calories and no sugar) and a twist of lemon.