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Drink · January 7, 2015

Served Neat: How to Cut Calories and Still Drink Like a Gentleman


Most people assume that wines have a consistent caloric content, but a glass can run the gamut from 90 to 150 calories, depending on several factors. The most important variable is alcohol by volume (ABV), since most of the calories in wine come from the alcohol itself. Red wines tend to be stronger than whites, but dont rely on that rule alone: Check the label for an ABV around 10-11%. Bordeaux, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc are all reliable options.

A second potential factor is the sweetness of the wine: More sugar, as expected, means more calories. Be careful with fortified wines like port and sherry, and look for the brut or extra brut variety (aka dry or very dry) when choosing champagne. That said, ABV is a far more important factor: A Riesling might taste sweet, but its lower ABV still makes it a healthy option.


As with wine, the caloric content of beer is tied to ABV. This can lead to some rude awakenings: Youd expect a crisp wheat beer to be healthier than a stout, but one bottle of Sam Adams Imperial White (10.3%) packs a whopping 328 calories, while a Guinness Extra Stout (5%) clocks in at 153 calories. However, carbs from residual sugar do factor in as wella thick 7% ABV porter will have more calories than a light 7% ABV pilsnerso check this comprehensive list to compare your favorite brews.

Liquor and Cocktails

Ah, the final frontier. Liquor presents an interesting challenge, as its not only what you drink, but how you drink it that matters. Youve probably figured out that ABV plays a factor: Anything over 80 proof will have a corresponding increase in calories. Sugar can also cause a major jump in calories, so avoid sweetened liqueurs like schnapps, Chambord, or Baileys.

The same general principle also applies to cocktails. Many popular drinks are packed with unhealthy ingredients (a White Russian comes out to 425 calories), but there are plenty of classic cocktails that wont run up a calorie tab. The healthiest choice of all is a simple scotch and soda, but bloody marys, martinis, gin and tonics, sazeracs, and French 75s are all solid options that wont break 200 calories. Once again, an exhaustive list will help.