Booze, for all its faults, means escape, relaxation and the shedding of inhibitions (ideally by women in skirts). Still, it’s worth remembering that some drinks are more of a hazard than others. And we’re not talking about long-term liver damage or injuries sustained while attempting to jump over your buddy’s dining room table after six shots of whiskey. We’re talking about your waistline, because some of those beverages are conspiring to make you fatter than, ah, let’s go with Steven Seagal. So before you head out tonight, take note of these seven pitfalls and their streamlined alternatives. Otherwise, your belt buckle will be under siege, your barstool marked for death, your ability to chat up uninhibited women in skirts half past dead and your writing style weighed down with bad action movie puns.
1. Anything and Tonic
“Yes, I’d like a gin and tonic with extra plants, please.”
We all love a good vodka tonic, and a G&T is a bona fide classic, but the clear color belies the caloric load. Tonic water alone boasts over 90 calories per serving and 22 grams of sugar. Add vodka, and three vodka tonics quickly hit you with close to 550 calories. The solution? If you’re going to be drinking a lot, swap out tonic water for club soda and garnish it with a wedge of lime to get that citrus taste. Alternatively, drink all the tonic water you want, opt out of a ride home and go on foot, preferably at a medium to high jogging pace. This option is commonly referred to as “drunk cardio” and is highly effective. At least it seems that way when you’re drunk.
2. Jack and Coke
Do you really want to drink what these guys are drinking, anyway?
First of all, unless you’re a college freshman downing stolen whiskey out of an Aquafina bottle before stumbling into the all-campus mixer, there is no reason for you to be drinking Jack and Coke. Second of all, Coke—whether mixed with alcohol or not—is never a good option if you’re hoping to keep your gut in check. At nearly 100 calories and 30 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving, the stuff is basically liquid people-fattener. If you want to drink whiskey (which you should), man up and order it neat, or with a splash of club soda or water. It’s healthier, and it’ll get you much closer to achieving Don Draper-esque cool than that silly fedora.
3. Dark Beers
We won’t drink anything lighter than high-gravity IPA, so it pains us to write this, but frequent consumption of dark beer is a recipe for fatassery. Guinness Stout—the mainstream poster child for dark beers around the world—brings a hefty 170 calories per pint. Step it up a notch to IPA, and you’re easily topping 200 calories per pint. The most obvious way to avoid this calorie buildup is to switch over to a lighter variety of brew, as in the stuff that says “light” right on the bottle. Of course, taste-wise, light beers tend to be roughly on par with carbonated water at best and roughly on par with carbonated horse piss at worst. So what do you do? Moderation, friends. Drink the good stuff, but pace yourself—at least while you’re still sober enough to care.
4. Energy Drinks
See what happened to Steven Seagal? He had an unlimited supply of his very own energy drink, and now he is Mama Cass. Let this be a warning to you.
We’re looking at you, Mr. Vodka Red Bull. Sure, mixing your booze with an energy drink is a hip, surefire way to kick-start your night and keep you powered up through all manner of drunken antics, but “energy” literally means “calories.” Red Bull packs over 100 calories and 27 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving. With vodka, you’ll be hitting 600 calories before long. That’s about the equivalent of a Big Mac. A Big Mac that makes you spill your life story to people you’ve never met while simultaneously making plans to launch a start-up social network with a guy named Stephan. Those things just don’t work out.
5. Malt-Liquor Energy Blends
Did you know? Four Loko was among the first companies to successfully tap into the coveted “brain-dead asshole” demographic.
Even worse than energy drinks is this new strand of sketchy beverages with names like Four Loko, Sparks and Joose. Never mind the fact that you’re basically purchasing a three-hour blackout when you pick one up at 7-11, the only place that seems morally flexibly enough to carry them. What you should really be concerned about is the 650 calories of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and mystery chemicals. Do your body a favor and upgrade to a drink that doesn’t come in a can, especially one that looks like it was designed by Ed Hardy’s even douchier younger brother.
“I came, I saw, I got hammered and threw up in the back of my friend’s Corolla.”
It’s not the manliest of drinks, but damn if a margarita isn’t the perfect addition to a hot day by the beach. Or a cold night at a Mexican restaurant. Let’s not be picky. Thing is, a man-sized margarita (you know, the kind in those ridiculous fish bowl glasses) typically calls for at least three ounces of tequila and three ounces of triple sec, which translates to a hefty 500 calories, not to mention all the sugar you’re consuming. (Editors note: Do NOT mention this to your girlfriend. She WILL take it the wrong way.) Alternative? Skip the sweet stuff and go for straight tequila shots. Before long you’ll be evicting any excess calories anyway.
7. Long Island Iced Tea
None of this is tea.
Do people actually drink these in real life? If so, they’re consuming perhaps the single most fattening alcoholic beverage you’ll find this side of a Mississippi Mudslide. Composed of equal parts rum, vodka, tequila, triple sec and gin, along with a splash of Coke and a couple ounces of sweet and sour mix, a single one of these suckers can deliver over 700 calories. That’s more than a third of the average non-active-man’s recommended daily intake. All things considered, you’re better off eating a cheeseburger soaked in Jose Cuervo. Which we totally just patented, by the way, so don’t go stealing it.