Whether it's a fancy New Year's Eve party, or a family celebration at home, there's often a lot of discussion about the cocktails. And frequently it's not only "how many" but "how many calories."
It's well known that liquid calories add up fast, and that's especially true for alcoholic beverages. Health guidelines recommend up to one drink per day for women, and up to two for men (that's a body size, not gender issue!) — already providing built in portion control. But it's still important to know your numbers when it comes to alcohol. You definitely can balance those holiday calories with foods you enjoy — a celebration for all seasons.
Take my cocktail quiz to test your knowledge about which of these popular holiday drinks has the fewest calories and is a better pick to enjoy a happy and healthy New Year:
1. Eggnog vs. pomegranate sangria
While the pomegranate sangria is a fruity, sweet wine and is no calorie bargain at around 190 calories (6 ounces), the same serving size of eggnog (with alcohol) rolls in at about 300 calories. When it comes to calories, save these drinks for a special indulgence.
2. Wine cooler vs regular beer
With around 145 calories, a 12-ounce beer has fewer calories than a wine cooler that's the same volume and rings in around 220 calories. You can trim the calories further with a "light" beer, with about 110 calories.
3. White wine vs Brut Champagne
They're both "white drinks," but a 5-ounce glass of Champagne contains about 85 calories—that's the same as a 3-ounce serving of white wine. If you prefer white wine, you can also stretch your calories by adding 3 ounces of seltzer, creating a "spritzer."
4. Gin martini vs. gin and tonic
The martini is the better calorie bargain. At 115 calories (for 1½ ounces), you'll cut the calories by about 35% compared to a gin and tonic. While the alcohol is the same and the same calories (about 90), the tonic water is loaded with sugar. It's a clear mixer, but with the same sugar content as a cola. Another calorie bargain is a jigger of vodka mixed with seltzer or club soda – both calorie-free mixers.
5. Bloody Mary vs mimosa
For New Year's Day brunch, opt for a mimosa. This Champagne drink, mixed with a little orange juice trims the calories to about 100, while the Bloody Mary has about 140 calories. And the bubbles from the Champagne slow down how fast you drink it!
6. Spanish coffee vs. Irish coffee (both topped with whipped cream)
A hot holiday drink is a must. At about 140 calories (7 ounces), the Irish coffee has fewer calories, because it has only one type of alcohol: Irish whiskey. The Spanish coffee contains around 250 calories, because it contains both rum and coffee liqueur.
P.S. Remember that the "real" serving size is the biggest factor in figuring out the calories in your favorite cocktail. It's not the size of your glass that makes a single serving — it's the defined national guidelines that do, so adjust accordingly. One "drink" equals a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1½ ounces (a jigger) of spirits.
Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD is NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.