It’s not always easy to make healthy choices, and when it comes to libations, it can be even more challenging. Many bars and restaurants, major chains in particular, offer oversize drinks made with mixes that come loaded with sugar. In many cases, the cocktails in their best and purest form—the way they’re served at a typical high-end cocktail bar—are fine, but the way they’re typically made at restaurants renders them higher in calories than a slice of cheesecake.
If you’re looking to sip guilt-free, take a look at the list below and make note of the drinks to avoid.
Long Island Iced Tea
You may not have had one of these incredibly boozy drinks since college, and, well, that’s OK. Combining five different liquors—equal parts vodka, tequila, light rum, gin and triple sec—with Coca-Cola and citrus juice (and absolutely no tea, by the way), this mixture creates a powerful potion that’s known to go down way too easily and be the source of many hangovers. Between the calories, the sugar from the soda and the sheer quantity of alcohol involved, this is one to stay away from.
To be blunt, this is an adult milkshake; it’s dessert. Made with vodka, Kahlúa, Baileys and cream or ice cream, this cup of sweet deliciousness is unfortunately also a cup of fat and cholesterol. As an example, your neighborhood Red Lobster will serve you a mudslide punching in at 540 calories, and elsewhere, that can run up to 800.
The Dude loves it, but your health doesn’t. Made with vodka, Kahlúa and heavy cream, this drink has the same amount of calories in a medium Dairy Queen blizzard: around 500 calories. Using low- or non-fat milk will cut these back but in reality also make it much less tasty.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
The Daiquiri is a relatively healthy, and perfectly delicious, drink in its classic form, incorporating fresh lime juice. But too often it's made from a sugar-filled premade mix and served in a huge goblet. You know those famous frozen Daiquiris in New Orleans? A 20-ounce to-go cup—an unacceptably massive portion size, to be sure—averages a whopping 1,000 calories, half of the recommended daily calorie intake for an average person. Stick to ordering the classic version, made with fresh lime juice and no premade mix in sight, at your favorite craft cocktail bar or make it yourself.
Made with rum, curaçao, orgeat and lime juice, this tropical drink is an ideal vacation beverage but not one you should drink regularly. With multiple liquors and sugar- and calorie-laden orgeat, it’s a pretty but sinful package if served in an oversize vessel.
If you like Piña Coladas, sorry to be the bearer of bad news: This drink, made with rum, coconut cream, coconut milk and pineapple juice, is packed with calories, sugar and fat. The coconut cream—that creamy ingredient that sends your worries away and your mind to the beach—is loaded with saturated fat. To give a sense of the damage done with this drink, ordering one of these in a large glass from the restaurant Bahama Breeze will run you 560 calories—that’s more than a Big Mac.
Though a simple Margarita you make from scratch will only run you about 200 calories, those served at restaurants or hotels are often loaded with sugar and served in a massive glass lined with salt. These can easily run more than 500 calories, and the tasty fruit options—think strawberry, mango and peach—make it even worse. Olive Garden’s Strawberry Mango Margarita contains 52 grams of sugar alone, about equal to a Cinnabon.