During the summer months, there’s nothing like a cold beverage on a patio in the afternoon, or while watching a beautiful sunset in the evening. Nowadays, I’m a fan of white wine, but not too long ago when out with friends, my beverage of choice was a martini (or two). Clients often ask me: When out for drinks with friends, are some drinks better to have than others?
First, let’s go through the pros and cons (or, the good, the bad and the ugly) when it comes to your basic bar options: wine, beer and cocktails.
We’ve all heard by now that red wine is actually good for us, primarily due to its heart healthy antioxidant-compound resveratrol, which is found in the skins of grapes. OK, sure. But, just like dark chocolate, you can have too much of a good thing with wine. Between one and one-and-a-half glasses daily for women or up to two glasses per day for men is the amount health guidelines recommend as the upper limit for wine (for that matter, any standard servings of alcohol). Anything beyond that and you’re really just drinking for sport.
Although it can be extremely refreshing on a hot day, beer is deservedly notorious for its contribution to body fat — hence the infamous “beer belly.” This beverage packs 150 calories per 341 mL bottle; if you’re drinking pints (500 mL) then it’s 200 calories. Plus, the bubbles mean you are swallowing more air, which is one of the major contributors to bloating and gas.
Cocktails are sneaky. They can be the lowest in calories: for example, gin and tonic provides about 70 calories. If you enjoy cocktails blended with a sweetened mix, juice or regular pop, these bevvies end up being loaded with sugar, and that boosts the calorie count significantly. A long island iced tea can have up to 276 calories — that’s more than a chocolate bar!
Since the coming of the nought decade, North America’s most widely prevalent cocktail is the martini, so I’m going to give it special attention here. I don’t know if it was Sex and the City that turned me on to martinis, but I guess it doesn’t matter; the point is, for quite a while, they were my drink of choice. Of course, I always seemed to go for the sweetest one on the menu. Packing about 200 calories each, multiplied by three over the course of the evening, meant drinking a dinner’s worth of calories. Were they enjoyed? Most definitely. Might I have preferred dessert instead? Yes. Ahh… decisions, decisions.
So is there really a good, bad and ugly choice when it comes to which beverage to have on that hot summer day on a patio? The simple answer is: Not really. Beer, wine, cocktails — they are all liquid calories. These days, I prefer (and enjoy!) chewing my calories instead of drinking them.
If you must choose one? Your best option is indeed one: a single glass of wine.