The holiday season is upon us, and that inevitably means two months straight of indulging—in that slice of pie, those Thanksgiving mashed potatoes and, of course, festive cocktails at endless holiday parties. It’s not always easy to make healthy choices this time of year, and when it comes to libations, it can be even more challenging.
Some of the worst of the worst cocktails are loaded with so many calories and so much sugar that you may as well just finish the platter of cookies instead. If you’re looking to sip guilt-free this season, take a look at the list below and make note of the drinks to avoid. And if you’re looking for healthier options, check out these five low-calorie cocktails you should choose instead.
You may not have had one of these incredibly boozy drinks since college, and, well, that’s OK. Combining four different liquors—equal parts vodka, tequila, light rum and gin—with Coca-Cola (and absolutely no tea, by the way), this mixture creates a powerful potion that’s known to go down way too easy and be the source of many hangovers. Between the calories from all of the alcohol, sugar from the soda and the fact that it’s normally served in a larger glass than most cocktails, this is one to stay away from.
To be blunt, this is an adult milkshake. It’s dessert. Made with vodka, Kahlua, 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—elsewhere, that can run up to 800.
The Dude loves it, but your health doesn’t. Made with vodka, Kahlua and heavy cream, you can expect to down this drink for about 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.
Another cocktail that will magically transport you to sandy beaches and tropical waters, this drink won’t get you your bikini bod. Similar to the Piña Colada, the Daiquiri is often 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 will average you a whopping 1,000 calories, half of the recommended daily calorie intake for an average person.
Though a simple Margarita you make from scratch would 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.
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 from the restaurant Bahama Breeze will run you 560 calories—that’s more than a Big Mac.