Nobody wants to admit it, so I’ll just come out and say it for the good of everyone: alcohol has calories…lots of them.
But when you’re counting down the minutes to happy hour on a Friday night, the last thing on your mind is how that one hour (ok, more like two hours) will blow your workout progress for the past few days. Your boss was such a pill this week! You earned those 2 for 1 margaritas, damn it, and you’re going to have them both!
Bethenny Frankel set out to solve this problem with her Skinnygirl Margarita and the cocktails, wines, and liquor that followed. Skinnygirl Cocktails claim to let you drink without the guilt. To clarify, they’re only talking about weight-related guilt and make no claims to prevent hangovers or drunkenness. But unless you’re consulting a calorie-tracking app before you order, you really don’t know how many calories those drinks are actually saving you.
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We decided to find out how much a Skinnygirl Cocktail will actually save you when its original counterpart is swapped out. We used the information on the company’s website along with slightly more specific data available on the purchasing website, ReserveBar.com. Here is how it all breaks down:
Here are how the Skinnygirl Cocktail products stack up against the real things:
Margarita: 18 – 150 calories saved
Skinnygirl = 150/6 oz. glass
Average Margarita = 168/6 oz. glass
Average Frozen Margarita = 300 calories/16 oz. glass
When we talk about margaritas, we first have to admit that the frozen concoctions we’ve come to know and love just barely resemble the real deal. Our happy hour margaritas are usually pre-mixed, sugar-filled slushies served in glasses bigger than 6-ounce tumblers. Skinnygirl actually does a good job of bringing the margarita back to its roots, or should I say, back to its rocks. When you don’t have all that crushed ice diluting the liquor and sweeteners, you won’t need as much of that stuff to make a quality drink.
That said, the calories saved by Skinnygirl if you’re subbing it in for a quality margarita on the rocks isn’t that impressive. 18 calories? Come on! You can burn that off by walking home instead of driving. Subbing in Skinnygirl for the frozen margarita actually seems like a better deal because two Skinnygirl Margaritas have 300 calories in 12 ounces. The frozen has the same calorie content and four more ounces! So either stick to the classic on the rocks, or drink two Skinnygirls for the price of one frozen.
Piña Colada: 230 calories saved
Skinnygirl = 150/6 oz. glass
Average Piña Colada = 380 Calories/6 oz. glass
In a complete departure from its margarita, the Skinnygirl Piña Colada is nothing like the real thing. A traditional Piña colada is creamy because it’s made with fatty coconut cream, rum, and fruit juices. All of that makes it delicious, but full of sugar and fat. If you can live without the creamy texture, SG’s Piña Colada will save you the most calories, though you definitely miss out on the flavor of the real thing. You can have two and a half Skinnygirl Piña Coladas for less calories than one traditional colada.
Mojito: 26 calories saved
Skinnygirl = 189 calories/8 oz. glass
Average = 215 calories/8 oz. glass
I really thought the Skinnygirl Mojito would save more calories because a traditional mojito starts out with pure sugar in the bottom of the glass. Since the website doesn’t list the ingredients, I don’t know what they’re putting in their concoction other than the specified Cruzan Rum, but it’s not a lot of savings. If you absolutely love a classic mojito, it doesn’t seem worth the switch unless you drink more than 2 in a night.
Cosmo: 118 calories saved
Skinnygirl: 95 calories/ 4 oz. glass
Average = 213 calories/4 oz. glass
Since the Skinnygirl Cocktails website doesn’t list all of the ingredients for its beverages, I can only guess that what makes its White Cranberry Cosmo so diet-friendly is the lack of sugary cranberry juice and the possible use of a lower-proof alcohol (more on that when we get to Skinnygirl vodka). This is definitely a worthwhile substitute.
Wine: 20 calories saved
I haven’t tried Skinnygirl wine, but for an extra 20 calories per glass I’d rather buy something I know I like or take a chance on a wine from a region I enjoy instead of wondering what Skinnygirl has possibly done to their wine in order to make it “diet.” If you are counting calories, just have a little less, don’t go for diet wine.
Sangria: 12 calories saved
Skinnygirl: 132 calories/5 oz. glass
Average: 144 calories/5 oz. glass
This is a tricky one because it completely depends on how you, or your bar of choice, makes sangria. The average count is based on a standard recipe of red wine, fruit, and brandy or liqueur of choice. But because the recipe for sangria can be so liberal, it’s easy to get a little crazy. Adding things like Sprite, triple sec, and more than a splash of liqueur will all add more calories. So if you’re counting calories, drinking Skinnygirl is a way to know exactly what you’re getting. If not, then I would apply the same philosophy we did to the wine and go with something you know you’re going to like.
Vodka: 12 calories saved
Skinnygirl = 75.8 calories/1.5 oz.
Smirnoff Citrus = 87 calories/1.5 oz.
We’re comparing the Skinnygirl line of vodkas with Smirnoff because their alcohol content is similar – Skinnygirl has a lower alcohol by volume content than most popular brands — it’s 60 proof (30% alcohol/volume) and Smirnoff is the closest at 70 proof (35% alcohol). If you’re concerned about 12 calories per shot, I must ask: how many shots are you doing? If your answer is more than “a few”, I will take the liberty of guessing that you’re not drinking to savor the flavor. You’re probably trying to reach a certain state of inebriation and the fact is, it will take you more of the Skinnygirl vodka to get there than the Smirnoff, and those extra shots will just negate all the calories you’re trying to save.
In conclusion, Skinnygirl Cocktails may lessen your guilt, but they won’t completely eliminate it. Some of the products will save you more calories than others, but you still have to exercise portion control. Great, that’s one more thing to think about after the week you’ve had! Sorry to be the one to state the bitter truth, but if you’re trying to lose weight, swapping your usual margarita for the Skinnygirl version isn’t going to do you as much good as swapping happy hour for an hour at the gym. So just drink what you like!
Mara Montalbano is a multimedia journalist living in New York City. She loves drinking wine and driving her Mini Cooper…but not in that order. Follow her @MaraMontalbano.