Monday, March 28, 2011

How Many Calories in My Cocktail?

At a party, a happy hour or a night by the fireplace, a drink is such a natural accompaniment that sometimes we forget about the calories we’re consuming. Big mistake: Calories from alcohol add up quickly. Our bodies don’t register liquids in terms of fullness, so the reason you gain weight from alcohol is that you don’t compensate by eating less later. You still eat the same amount, regardless of whether you had the drink.

Remember this too: Even though the screwdriver you order at brunch has vodka and orange juice, mixed drinks provide little to no nutritional value – only calories. Alcohol is not an essential nutrient, it has a diuretic effect on the body. Even if you mix it with orange or cranberry juice, you are more likely to flush the nutrients out of your system.

To help you learn what’s really in your drink, check out the following guide to the ingredients and the calorie and carb counts in some of the most common alcoholic beverages.

Ingredients: Processed, fermented and brewed grains, most commonly barley; hops (which are from the hop plant, related to hemp) to give the brew its distinctive bitterness; and malt. Beer can range from light ales to dark stouts depending on the proportions of malt and barley. As a rule of thumb, the darker the color of the brew, the higher the calorie count.
Stats: One regular 12-ounce beer has 13 grams of carbohydrate and 150 calories; a 12-ounce light beer has 5 carb grams and 100 calories.

Ingredients: Fermented grapes. Wine varies in flavor, smoothness and color, due to the type of grapes, climate, soil and production methods. Red wine is made from red grapes; white wine from green; and rose, or blush, from red (not a mixture of red and white, as some people believe). Research has found that red wine helps with blood circulation and, in moderation (one 4- to 6-ounce glass daily) is good for the heart
Stats: One 6-ounce glass of white wine has 1.4 carb grams and 120 calories; 6 ounces of red has 3 carb grams and 128 calories; 6 ounces of rose has 2.5 carb grams and 128 calories. A 6-ounce glass of sweet dessert wine, such as Riesling, with 21 carb grams, has 270 calories.

Ingredients: A sparkling white wine from the French region of Champagne, the bubbly gets its taste, allure and carbonation from slightly acidic grapes, fermented and distinctly cultivated. A sugar mixture is added to most sparkling wines before final bottling, which explains their’ sweetness (and extra calories).
Stats: One 6.5-ounce flute has 6.5 carb grams and 163 calories.

Straight Up and Mixed
A 1.5-ounce shot of any 80-proof liquor – vodka, rum, tequila, gin, etc. – has 100 calories; if your straight shot is 100 proof, it’s 124 calories. (The proof number is twice the alcohol content of the beverage: i.e., 80 proof means the liquor is 40 percent alcohol; 100 proof is 50 percent.) But when a shot is combined with a prepared mix, juice or soda, the calorie count can go a lot higher. To wit (all nutrient statistics are based on 80-proof liquor):

Vodka is distilled from a mash of grain, such as rye or wheat, or potatoes.
Stats: Vodka Collins (1.5 ounces vodka, 3 ounces sweet-and-sour mix, 3.5 ounces club soda): 17 carb grams and 175 calories. Bloody Mary (1.5 ounces vodka, 4.5 ounces Mr & Mrs T Bloody Mary Mix): 5 carb grams, 123 calories. Vodka and cranberry (1.5 ounces vodka,’4 ounces cranberry juice): 18 carb grams, 172 calories.

Rum is a fermented sugar-cane product.
Stats: Daiquiri (1.5 ounces rum, 5 ounces Mr & Mrs T daiquiri mix): 49 carb grams, 314 calories. Rum and Coke (2 ounces rum, 4 ounces cola): 13 carb grams, 182 calories. Rum and diet Coke (2 ounces rum, 4 ounces diet cola): 0 carb grams, 133 calories.

Tequila is made from the agave plant.
Stats: Frozen margarita (2 ounces tequila, 4.5 ounces Jose Cuervo margarita mix, salt): 27 carb grams, 246 calories. Margarita on the rocks (1.5 ounces tequila, 1 ounce Triple Sec, 1 ounce fresh lime juice): 8 carb grams, 182 calories. Long Island iced tea (3/4 ounce each tequila, rum, gin and vodka; 1/2 ounce Triple Sec; splash of lemon juice; 2 teaspoons sugar; splash of cola): 4 carb grams, 275 calories.

Gin is distilled from various grains and flavored with aromatic berries, such as juniper.
Stats: Gin and tonic (2 ounces gin, 4 ounces tonic water): 21 carb grams, 178 calories. Martini (2.5 ounces gin, splash of dry vermouth): 0 carb grams, 175 calories.

Whiskey is made from distilled grains such as rye, corn and barley, and includes scotch, bourbon and rye.
Stats: Whiskey sour (1.5 ounces whiskey, 3 ounces sour mix, splash of cherry juice and bitters, if desired): 17 carb grams, 175 calories: Manhattan (2.5 ounces whiskey, 1 ounce sweet vermouth, dash of bitters): 4 carb grams, 210 calories.

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