Okay, okay, so we all know that our happy-hour habit isn’t exactly helping our waistlines. However, we’re way more tempted to imbibe an extra-decadent cocktail this time of year (when we’re armored in layers of denim, knits, and wool) than when we’re ordering from the swim-up bar and wearing, well, close to nothing. With tempting holiday drink menus around every corner (and the hordes of other cookies, cakes, and sweets that taunt us on a daily basis), it’s easy for any previous amount of self-control to get thrown out the window. Yes, you can (and should!) have your favorite holiday brew, but simple calorie awareness—along with some balance and moderation—is key. So, go ahead and savor that eggnog martini; just skip the greasy mozzo sticks, yeah?
Keep scrolling for your favorite holiday cocktails, ranked!
Brandy, cream, eggs, milk, and sugar—oh my! It’s no secret that this holiday staple is a nightmare for dieters and a total calorie bomb. Though sinfully delicious, the traditional ’nog is basically made with everything we try to avoid—as in tons of excess sugars and calories from fat (most of which are saturated, thanks to the milk, cream, and eggs). It’s okay to indulge, but be realistic and mindful when it comes to your portion size, since the drink is the number one worst pick when it comes to cocktail hour this season.
Sugar: 40 grams
This wintry and creamy classic is about as delicious as it is dangerous (um, for the waistline). Loaded with cream, coffee-flavored liquor, and vodka, this little guy packs a powerful punch when it comes to calories, sugar, and fat. Consider yourself warned.
Fat: ~13 grams
It’s safe to say that our love affair with the margarita is strong all year long—and with its seasonal variations, such as pomegranate and cranberry, can you really blame us? However, this time of year, the tequila- and triple sec–based cocktail gets a little more offensive, in terms of its nutritional profile. Why? The traditional lemon or lime is subbed out in favor of more-festive (albeit sugary) fruit juices.
Sugar: ~38 grams
As the darling of all cocktails, the martini (typically made with gin and vermouth) will usually only set you back approximately 130 calories. However, come the holiday season, we’re tempted by the drink’s more decadent (and sugar-laden) cousins: Chocolate, eggnog, gingerbread, peppermint—we’ve seen it all. Sweet additions like cream, sweeteners, and flavored syrups and liquor add up quickly, creating a drink that is more of a dessert than anything else.
Sugar: ~30 grams
The mixture of rum, butter, cider, sugar, and spices (served warm!) is basically sugarplums, snowflakes, and Frank Sinatra served in a glass. Though usually considered a “lighter option” (due to the absence of any heavy creams), the brew is actually one of the worst, due to its high sugar and fat content (hi, butter).
Fat: ~17 grams
Also known as “glogg,” mulled wine is a wine lover’s dream once the temperatures start dropping. Served warm, the drink combines antioxidant-rich red wine with other yummy (and soul-warming) ’tis-the-season ingredients such as honey, cinnamon, cloves, zest, and juice. Since the majority of added flavorings come from spices and other natural flavorings, this is one of the better choices on the menu.
Sugar: ~17 grams
Berry and bubbly, unite! A deliciously decadent variation of the Kir, this French cocktail is basically what our happy-hour dreams are made of. Traditionally consisting of crème de cassis (a sweet, dark red liquor made from black currants), which is then topped with champagne—it’s a light and refreshing option for the holiday season. Since the drink is made sans any punishing additives like extra liquors, syrups, and creams, you can sip relatively guilt-free.
Sugar: ~15 grams
A holiday favorite, hot toddy is typically a warmed mix of whiskey, honey, water, and some added herbs and spices. When prepared without added juices or flavorings (which ramp up extra sugars and calories), this traditional drink is one of the smartest choices you can make at the bar (or Grandma’s place), due to its comparatively low calorie content.
Sugar: ~17 grams
Do you have any tips for lightening up your favorite holiday cocktail? Sound off below!