Summer has just started and we’ve already had our fair share of margaritas. Why not? It’s warm out, and they’re the perfect way to cool off. But — and you probably don’t want to be reminded of this — margs are sugar bombs, just loaded with carbs. It’s not just margs, either; there are plenty of cocktails out there you’d be wise to consume sparingly, especially if you’re worried about your carb intake. Just take a canned pina colada, for example. It contains not only 526 calories but also 61 grams of carbohydrates!
One way to cut back on the delicious, carb-loaded cocktails is by sticking with certain types of alcohol, specifically vodka and rum.
No flavoring, no carbs
Vodka and rum are distilled spirits, which means they only contain alcohol — and have zero carbs. So, instead of skipping the cocktails and heading straight for the wine or beer, think twice. Five ounces of wine has a carb count of 5, while 12 ounces of beer has 11. Champagne has 1.6 grams (so, better than wine and beer), while light beer has 7 grams.
As a general rule of thumb, flavored vodkas with a proof of 80 or above are carb-free.
But what about carbs in flavored vodka and rum?
Carb counts vary for flavored vodkas. Many clock in at zero carbs, while others are as high as 11 grams per serving (like Hpnotiq).
For the most part, many flavored vodkas are zero carbs, including Absolut Vodka, which doesn’t contain carbohydrates, proteins or fat. According to its website, only natural ingredients from berries, fruits and spices are used and no sugar is added.
Here are a few flavored vodkas we found with higher carb counts:
- Magic Moments’ green apple flavor: 7 g
- Pinnacle Vodka’s whipped cream flavor: 8 g
- Jeremiah Weed’s sweet tea flavor: 9 g
Rum is a different story.
While straight rum has zero carbs, flavored or spiced rums do contain carbs. For example, Captain Morgan Parrot Bay rum contains 7 g carbs per fluid ounce and Malibu Rum has 1 g carbs per fluid ounce.
As far as flavored rums go, it ranges, much like flavored vodkas do — from zero to 16 g. Here are some of the higher carb counts we found on MyFitnessPal:
- Calico Jack cherry rum: 7 g
- Bacardi O orange-flavored rum: 3 g
- RumChata: 16 g
- Cruzan strawberry rum: 6 g
- Cruzan black cherry rum: 15 g
If you want to stick to unflavored vodka and rum, choose the right mixers. Here are some mixer suggestions for vodka:
- Soda water or club soda (with a squeeze of lemon or lime for taste)
- Unsweetened iced tea
- Club soda with mint leaves and a no-calorie sweetener
- Low-sugar sodas
- Diluted cranberry juice or lemonade
As for rum, if you want to drink it straight, here’s one tip: The darker the color, the richer the flavor. Or you can use one of the following mixers:
- Fresh grapefruit juice with lime juice
- Lime juice and mint
- Ginger beer and lime juice
Cheers to healthy drinking this summer!
A version of this article was originally published in September 2007.