People put a lot of thought into the drinks they order—but don’t always consider the pitfalls. Some cocktails are sneaky diet busters; others pack a hidden punch. Then there are dive-bar items that might make your stomach turn. If you want to kick back without unexpected regrets, these are the drinks you should stay away from.
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Frozen drinks may be fun, but they’re also filled with sugary juices and other caloric mixers—and are often served in festive oversize glasses, says Keri Gans, RDN, author of The Small Change Diet. The typical piña colada has nearly 500 calories, compared with 120 for a glass of white wine, according to the National Institutes of Health.
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Draft beer in a dirty bar
Should you order draft beer at a dive? N.Y.C. comedian and bartender Timothy Dunn says he checks the bathrooms first. His logic: Bars that don’t clean their bathrooms regularly may not be maintaining their keg lines either. And who wants to drink contaminated beer?
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Mojitos seem like a harmless refreshment, but the drink could be carrying bacteria from spoiled mint leaves. The problem, says Adam Levy, writer of the popular blog the Alcohol Professor, is that most bars don’t serve all that many mojitos, so it’s rare they keep fresh mint on deck. The upshot: It’s a better drink to make at home or to order at a specialty bar where it’s a signature cocktail.
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Cocktails like White Russians are made with cream or milk—ingredients that don’t keep long and that bars may forget to restock. “It’s never quite cold enough in beer fridges, which keep opening and closing all night long,” says Dunn.
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Long Island Iced Tea
This tornado of half a dozen liquors with a splash of cola contains well above the suggested amount of alcohol you should consume per hour, says Leslie Bonci, RD, owner of Active Eating Advice in Pittsburgh. Plus, while the recipes vary, some could have as many as 780 calories, says Jenna Braddock, RDN, blogger at Make Healthy Easy.
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Red Bull mixed with...any booze
A different set of health hazards attend any beverage mixed with Red Bull. The energy drink may mask both the taste of liquor and the feeling of being drunk, giving you a false sense of security. “Alcohol is a depressant, and caffeine is a stimulant,” says Bonci. “The caffeine negates the inebriation effect of alcohol, and people end up drinking far more than they should.”