Calories in Alcoholic Drinks: Long Island Iced Tea, Mai Tai, Margarita

Calories in Alcoholic Drinks: Long Island Iced Tea, Mai Tai, Margarita

High-calorie cocktails and alcoholic beverages to avoid and their lower calorie alternatives.

Calorie control for weight loss is not just about what you eat but what you drink. Aside from skim milk and/or meal replacement smoothies (homemade) drinkable calories can add up quickly, especially those with added sugars and alcohol. Alcohol, at 7 calories per gram, offers more energy (in the form of calories) than either protein or carbohydrates. Most would agree that eating a meal that provides 500 total calories is more satisfying than gulping down a beverage that contains the same amount of calories. Though a glass of wine, champagne or mixed drink will not likely derail your diet, many popular cocktails are calorie bombs, a blend of fruits and/or fruit juices, alcohol as well as cream and other ingredients. Beware of these cocktails. Instead, choose lower-calorie, but very tasty, substitutes to celebrate your special occasion. These are three high calorie alcoholic drinks to avoid, particularly if you are trying to lose or even maintain your weight.

Long Island Iced Tea

Popular and very potent, Long island iced tea (LIT) is loaded with alcohol (four types of hard liquor) as well as sugar from a drink mix and soda. Ingredients include vodka, tequila, rum, gin, sweet & sour mix and cola. Depending upon the exact recipe and size of the drink, average calorie counts for one serving range between 500 and 700 calories or at least 33% of many women’s recommended energy intake.

You can reduce the calorie content of this drink by skipping the drink mix and using diet cola as a mixer; or choosing a lower-calorie but tasty beverage, such as a Mojito (about 215 calories per 8 oz.), an 11 oz. bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade (about 85 calories) or a Mimosa (about 75 calories per 4 oz. serving).

Mai Tai

Mai Tai is another exotic tropical drink that tastes sweet and fruity. Ingredients for this favorite include spiced and coconut-flavored rums, orange and pineapple juices, Grenadine syrup and ice. Recipes vary and some call for sour mix and/or triple sec. Though not high in fat, it is high in sugar and a 6 oz. serving weighs in at about 350 calories, give or take a few.

Lower the calorie content of your Mai Tai by minimizing the juices/using low-calorie juice cocktail blends and omitting the sour mix. Lower calorie alternatives include a simple cosmopolitan (200 calories for 4 oz.), a diet Coke and rum (100 calories for 8 oz.) or a simple glass of champagne, white or red wine (about 120 calories for 5 oz.)


Margarita in a pint glass is another exotic tropical drink that includes high-calorie ingredients such as margarita/sour mix, triple sec and sugar in addition to the lime juice and tequila. Its distinctive flavor makes it hard to replace. A pint-sized serving (not uncommon) provides about 550 calories. Recipes vary and although it is not high in fat, the sugar content is significant.

Lower the calorie content of your margarita by skipping the sour mix and choosing a very modest serving size. Though a pint-sized cocktail is large, an 8 oz. margarita still provides about 280 calories. Lower calorie alternatives include a Skinnygirl margarita (100 calories per 4 oz. serving), a green apple martini (150 calories per 4 oz. serving) or a vodka-diet tonic with a twist of lime which provides about 100 calories per 8 oz. serving.


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