Cocktail Cheat Sheet

The same healthy approach you apply to food holds true with cocktails: be aware of what you're putting in your body. Know the ingredients of your favorite mixers before you down your drink.
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"Bartender, I'll have one—" stop and think before you finish that sentence.

"So what'll it be?" asks the bartender. Most any man will have a proud answer. Your personal cocktail says a lot about you: A Manhattan man revels in old-school class, while a margarita man knows how to enjoy a fiesta. But what you might not know is that having a few of your favorite mixed drinks (which, more often than not, lead to a few more) can cause serious damage to your weight-loss efforts.

Despite what seems like common sense, less volume does not necessarily translate to fewer PointsPlus® values. To help make sense of the madness, we've researched 28 popular cocktails to help you compare and contrast to get the biggest bang for your PointsPlus value buck. Just have a crack at our interactive cheat sheet and find out for yourself.

Choices like the gin and tonic are quite reasonable — others, like the frozen mudslide, are downright PointsPlus value bombs. But don't call your buddies to cancel happy hour just yet.

Get to know your favorite cocktails with our interactive bartender. As long as you understand that that piña colada will cost you more PointsPlus values than three screwdrivers, we'll consider that a victory.

When you're on a weight-loss plan, you obviously want whatever you eat or drink to be of the best quality and have the most flavor. "Fresh juices are the key to tasty spirits," says Van Flandern. "Using fresh lime juice instead of sweetened, colored, artificial lime juice makes a tremendous difference in taste. I also use only fresh cane sugar in my sweet cocktails — because it's stronger and more palatable than artificial sweetening syrups, you can use less."

Here's a basic rule of thumb: While liquor has a relatively high PointsPlus value of about 4 per 1.5 ounces, there's practically no caloric variance among the different varieties. An ounce of whiskey is equal to an ounce of rum, gin and so forth. "However, you definitely want to avoid liqueurs like blue Curaçao and triple sec," says Van Flandern." Most are artificially flavored or colored and loaded with high fructose corn syrup, which is packed with calories."

You should also watch out for drinks that combine different liquors. For example, an 8-ounce Long Island iced tea, which contains gin, rum, tequila and vodka (not to mention cola and sour mix), will set you back 15 PointsPlus values. On the other hand, your basic 4.5-ounce rum and coke (no big secret about the ingredients there) will only cost you 5. The monstrous 12-ounce frozen mudslide combines vodka, coffee liqueur and Irish cream with two scoops of chocolate ice cream. No wonder it's 29 PointsPlus values!

The size of the glass is also a huge factor in determining the PointsPlus value of your drink, as is the amount of ice. In our interactive tool above, we show you the PointsPlus values of drinks served in 4- and 6-ounce glasses, the most common sizes offered. But if a waiter or bartender hands you a suspiciously large glass or has a heavy hand with the booze bottles, you will have to adjust the PointsPlus values, or you can request the particular size you want.

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