Party Hearty: Alcohol & Your Health

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

     Tis the season to be jolly but lots of cheer may actually help you add a few pounds before the New Year.  It’s amazing how many calories alcohol can add to your daily calories if you are not careful. Plus, most of the time when you are drinking and socializing, you may be eating high calorie foods as well.

The Health Benefits of Alcohol

Moderate alcohol use does have some health benefits if you are an older adult or high risk for heart disease but if you don’t drink don’t start hoping you will get some extra health benefits. The health benefits include: reducing your risk of developing heart disease, reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack, possible lower your risk of strokes,  lower your risk of gallstones, and maybe reduce your risk of diabetes. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that one drink a day for women or two a day for men is considered a moderate amount of alcohol. One drink, as defined by AICR, the USDA and other health organizations is: 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

But…Alcohol Can Add Calories which Might Mean Gaining Weight

Check out how many calories are in alcohol, beer and an assortment of popular alcoholic drinks below. If you want to help prevent a new ring around your waist in 2013, you may want to strategize on how to cope with the extra calories that are found at many of the holiday parties.

Strategies to Prevent the Ring Around the Waist

After this Year’s Holiday Parties


  1. Nurse one drink all night.
  2. Drink light beer instead of regular beer.
  3. Mix your alcohol with water or diet drinks.
  4. Cut down on your snack calories by getting away from the buffet table.
  5. If these strategies, don’t work for you, then choose your drink, like a Cosmopolitan (my favorite) which is 200 calories. So, before the party you can walk for 40 minutes or run for 20 minutes to burn about 200 calories.

Calories in Alcohol

Alcohol* Portion Calories
Gin, 90 Proof 1.5 fl oz jigger 110
Rum, 80 proof 1.5 fl oz jigger 97
Vodka, 80 proof 1.5 fl oz jigger 97
Whiskey, 86 proof 1.5 fl oz 105
Red wine 5 oz 106
Rose wine 5 oz 103
White wine 5 oz 100
Dry dessert wine 5 oz 185
Sweet dessert wine 5 oz 225


Calories in Beer

Beer Facts* Portion Calories
Beer 12 oz 146
Beer, light 12 oz 99
Ultra light beer 12 oz 64 – 95
O’Doul’s non-alcoholic 12 oz 70
O’Doul’s Amber non-alcoholic 12 oz 90


Calories in Liqueurs

Liqueurs* Portion Calories
Coffee, 53 proof 1.5 fl oz 175
Coffee, 63 proof 1.5 fl oz 160
Coffee w/cream, 34 proof 1.5 fl oz 154
Crème de Menthe, 73 proof 1.5 fl oz 186


*From Bowes & Church’s Food Value of Portions Commonly Used. 18th edition. Jean A.T. Pennington & Judith Spungen Douglass.
How Many Calories in Popular Cocktails**?
So just how many calories are in your favorite cocktail? These calorie counts for popular alcoholic drinks are approximate, based on popular recipes, but may vary depending on ingredients and portions.

Popular Cocktails Portion Calories
Pina Colada 6 oz 378
Mojito 8 oz 214
Cosmopolitan 4 oz 200
Chocolate Martini (2 oz vodka, chocolate liqueurs, cream, ½ oz crème de cacao, chocolate syrup) 4 oz 438
Margarita 8 oz 280
Green Apple Martini (1 oz vodka, sour apple, apple juice) 2.5 oz 148
Martini (gin, vermouth) 2.5 oz 160
Port wine 3 oz 128
Bloody Mary (tomato juice, vodka, lemon juice) 5 oz 118
Champagne 5 oz 106 -120
Wine spritzer 5 oz 100
Eggnog with rum 8 oz 370
Eggnog with whiskey, 86 proof, 1.5 fl oz jigger 8 oz 404
Hot chocolate with Peppermint Schnapps 8 oz 380
Gin and Tonic 7 oz 200
Mai Tai (1.5 oz rum, ½ oz cream de long, ½ oz triple sec, sour mix, pineapple juice) 6 oz 350
Hot Buttered Rum 8 oz 292
White Russian (2 oz vodka, 1.5 coffee liqueur, 1.5 oz cream) 5 oz 425
Long Island Tea 8 oz 780
Spiced Cider with Rum 8 oz 150
Screwdriver 8 oz 190
Mimosa 4 oz 75
Mulled Wine 5 oz 200
Vodka & Tonic 8 oz 200
Rum & Coke 8 oz 185
Rum & Diet Coke 8 oz 100
Mike’s Hard Lemonade 11 oz 98
Daiquiri (rum, lime juice, sugar) 5 fl oz 280
Manhattan (whisky, vermouth) 5 fl oz 320
Tequila Sunrise (orange juice, tequila, lime juice) 7 fl oz 240
Tom Collins (club soda, gin, lemon juice, sugar) 7 fl oz 113
Whisky Sour (lemon juice, whiskey, sugar) 7 fl oz 284
Popular Mixers Portion Calories
Orange juice 4 fl oz 55
Light Orange Juice 4 fl oz 25
Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice 4 fl oz 70
Ocean Spray Light Cranberry Juice 4 fl oz 25
Ocean Spray Diet Cranberry Juice 4 fl oz 3
Red Bull 4 fl oz 55
Sugar Free Red Bull 4 fl oz 5
Coke 4 fl oz 53
Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut 4 fl oz 520
Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut Lite 4 fl oz 440
Master of Mixes Sweet n’ Sour Mixer 4 fl oz 110
Master of Mixes Lite Sweet n’ Sour Mixer 4 fl oz 10
Master of Mixes Margarita Mixer 4 fl oz 130
Master of Mixes Lite Margarita Mixer 4 fl oz 10
Master of Mixes Strawberry Daiquiri  Mixer 4 fl oz 190
Master of Mixes Lite Strawberry Daiquiri  Mixer 4 fl oz 20





How to figure out how many calories are in your drinks?

Add the calories up with all the ingredients so you can figure out how many calories are in the drink.  Example,

The Authentic Pina Colada

Regular                                                                                                  Lite

2 fl oz Coco Lopez 260 calories 2 oz low fat Coco Lopez 220 calories
2 fl oz pineapple juice 35 calories 2 oz pineapple juice 35 calories
1 ½ fl oz Rum 97 calories 1 ½ fl oz Rum 97 calories
Total 392 calories 352 calories


Beer                                        146 calories

Light Beer                              95 – 117 calories


Pina Colada                            392 calories

Lite Pina Colada                    352 calories


Margarita                              280 calories

Lite Margarita                      71 calories


Sweet n Sour                         284 calories

Lite Sweet n Sour                62 calories


Strawberry Daiquiri             250 calories

Lite Strawberry Daiquiri     71 calories


**Adapted from:

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition,, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 12 grandchildren.    

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