What’s the “healthiest” drink at the bar? Your 4 best bets

Happy hour is one of my favorite pastimes, and our blender at home gets a lot of use. (Margaritas.) But I’m always wary of drinking too much because a) sloppy drunk looks good on no one; b) hangovers make me want to die; and c) THERE’S A LOT OF SUGAR IN ALCOHOL. Luckily, Claire of Eat Well. Party Hard. is here with a few suggestions on the best drinks to order at the bar when you want to treat your body right (while still having fun).

healthy drinks at the bar

To get straight to the point, I like to drink.

Drinking is fun, whiskey tastes great and, in the right context, alcohol catalyzes the kind of crazy adventures* that spark new friendships and solidify old ones.

However, it’s common knowledge that from a physical standpoint, drinking night after night is extremely taxing—on your waistline, your digestive system and your ability to wake up without a painful, productivity-killing headache the next morning.

This isn’t great news if your career and/or social pursuits place you in bars several nights a week.

That used to be my life.

Those of us who spend a significant amount of time in alcohol-heavy environments have to get crafty when it comes to juggling the social situation and our health. So to avoid unknowingly consuming buckets of creepy chemicals, artificial ingredients or a few hundred (sometimes thousand) extra calories, here are your four best boozing bets for a fun, relatively healthy night.

1. Craft or locally brewed beer—but only if you’re having one or two.

Beer—especially beer with real flavor to it—is high in empty calories and carbs. Several “light” options are typically available (your Bud Lights, Miller Lites, Michelob Ultras, etc.) for between 90-100 calories per 12-oz serving, but virtually all commercially brewed beers are laden with sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup or dextrose, additives like caramel coloring and a huge array of other chemicals. Food Babe actually asked spoke one-on-one with several mainstream breweries about what their beers contain, and her findings are pretty depressing. Sierra Nevada, Heineken and Amstel Light appear to be the only major companies who don’t use artificial ingredients, stabilizers or preservatives in their brews.

To avoid the chemical trap of commercial beers, it’s best to stick with craft beers and microbrews, or to opt for a German beer if available (the Reinheitsgebot purity law in Germany requires all beers to be produced with only a core ingredient list of water, hops, yeast, malted barley or wheat). However, with the knowledge that these choices are significantly higher in calories than the cheap-o “Lite” stuff, be mindful of how many calories are in that mug o’ tastiness.

2. Wine

Wine is lower in calories and carbs than beer, though like beer—or any other mass-produced food or drink—commercial wines are made to a specific taste; this ensures that the second bottle of Yellowtail pinot grigio you open will taste just like first. This uniformity is achieved, of course, by heavy processing, chemical manipulation and the use of various additives. So be aware that at the bar, your glass of wine won’t likely be as pure as those that come from small-scale vineyards, but at least the carb count is lower than the Bud Light your friend ordered.

3. Your favorite liquor + club soda + lime

Calorically speaking, liquor is the best bang for your buck at around 100ish calories per 1.5-oz serving—the mixers that go with them, though, get real dangerous real fast.

Though old-school versions of most drinks are relatively harmless, bars more often than not are stocked with pre-mixed versions of the classics—and once again, commercially packaged = tons of sugar, coloring and chemicals. According to WebMD, a 6-ounce piña colada packs on about 380 calories, and an 8-ounce mojito is 214 calories.

Rather than pulling out a calculator at the bar, order your preferred liquor with club soda/seltzer (not tonic water, which is super high in sugar) and a splash of lime—the fizz and citrus will keep it interesting.

4. Your favorite liquor, straight

If you dig the taste of your chosen liquor on its own, try ordering it on the rocks or neat. Too strong? Dilute it with some water as you acquire the taste.

What’s your favorite healthy(ish) drink?

*Said adventures are too numerous to list fully, but do include many nights running around New York ’til sunrise, snagging a cop’s hat and posing for photos on said cop’s motorcycle (with said cop present) and skinny dipping at Coney Island, among others.

 

Claire SullentropeMake sure you check out Claire’s blog, Eat Well. Party Hard. for more kickass posts like this one. (Seriously. She’s one of my favorites.) You can also follow here on Twitter and Instagram.

Slow the eff down

Sound familiar? A lot of us feel like we’re moving at a hundred miles a minute but not accomplishing nearly enough. That’s why Claire is here to tell us how sprinting from one task to the next is killing your productivity and making you feel like crap. (Luckily, there’s a solution.) Listen up!

slow the eff down

As I type this, I am trying to move at 100 miles a minute, in about 20 different directions.

This is not a joke. Since beginning this post, I have:

  • Eaten an after-dinner snack (okay, several after-dinner snacks)
  • Done laundry
  • Answered emails
  • Made tea
  • Scrolled through Instagram roughly 47 times

Honestly, though? None of these tasks were done well, and just as importantly, none of them have made me feel the way I want to feel.

For all of the time I’ve spent trying to keep myself busy, clean and satiated this evening, I’ve accomplished embarrassingly little.

How many of your days look exactly like this?

If you, like me, spend your precious time struggling to complete what really counts toward accomplishing your Big Life Goals, it may be time to:

Slow down. Take a breath. Look more closely at whose agenda you’re following.

When I say “whose agenda,” here, I’m not implying that you’re taking orders from another person; what I actually mean is that you’re allowing a noisy little voice in your head to run the show.

Because believe it or not, we’re all catering to two agendas: our own, and our egos’.

Our own agendas are full of inspiring, life-changing plans, like:

  • Create a work of art that truly moves someone
  • Treat my body with the love and respect it deserves, so that it looks and feels awesome
  • Build a career that’s challenging, fulfilling and makes a difference in the world

Our egos’ agendas are full of self-centered, instant-gratification plans, like:

  • Binge-watch Orange Is the New Black
  • Get some Very Important Email Answering done
  • Take a nap

Neither of these agendas are inherently good or bad; they both simply revolve around a core of desired feelings. The major difference, however, is that our agendas are rooted in bravery and the embracing of challenge, while our egos’ agendas are rooted in comfort and the avoidance of pain.

Creating a work of art—or, in this case, a blog post worth reading—will ultimately bring me satisfaction, pride, and the joy of collaboration with a writer I deeply admire (hi, Cassie!). First, however, it has brought feelings of fear that what I write will be crap, and frustration at the fact that the words aren’t materializing as easily as I’d like.

Only by slowing the fuck down, feeling those scary emotions and moving through them do I have any chance of accomplishing my goal tonight.

Instead, however, I’ve chosen to run from them for the past three hours. And my ego has happily stepped in to help me.

This irritating little ego still wanted to feel proud and productive, but it didn’t want to deal with the tough stuff. So it picked easier options. How about the laundry? it said. Oh, and look, you have new Facebook notifications. Those are probably important. You should check them off the list!

And so I did. And now I have clean underwear and know that three people “liked” a photo I posted yesterday.

But have I really accomplished anything? Have I connected with anyone? Did it matter?

Um, resounding NOPE up in here.

To experience the deep fulfillment and feelings of helpfulness that spring from creating something worthwhile, I’ve first had to:

  • Admit to myself that yes, I’m scared, and yes, I’m frustrated.
  • Actually FEEL those feelings for a minute. Hang around with them. Let them wear themselves out.
  • Put my fingers on the keyboard and do the damn work.

By sloooooowing doooooown and accepting those emotions you’re so used to running from—those flutterings of dread before a workout, the overwhelm of launching a new product, the nervousness that no one will connect with your art—you’ll actually be able to get more done, and you’ll be better at what you’re doing.

Keep trying to numb those feelings, and your ego will gleefully help you overeat, put that new product on hold indefinitely, send lots of tweets, texts and snapchats, then settle in for a nap.

And you. will. be. stuck.

The next time you’re feeling busybusybusy but aren’t actually getting anything done, stop for a second. Put down the phone/laptop/cookie.

Ask yourself: How do I feel right now? And how do I want to feel?

If “how do I feel?” results in a negative answer—afraid, frustrated, hurt, angry—don’t rush to block it out. Let it wash over you. Try to live inside it for a second; what does it feel like, physically? Is your stomach clenched? Are your knuckles white? Do you need a few seconds to punch your pillow, or to cry it out? Do what it takes to get comfortable with that emotion—once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to move through it in peace.

Once that’s finished, you can focus on the good stuff: if you want to feel accomplished, you’re smart enough to know that a nap won’t provide that result. If you want to feel healthy and vibrant, the package of Oreos does not hold the answer.

You know what needs to happen to move closer to your dream life. Rushing from one activity to the next in an effort to avoid discomfort is not it. 

I’d love to know, though—what is?

What plans from your agenda are you going to tackle today, and what plans from your ego’s are you going to happily kiss goodbye?

 

 

Claire Suellentrop

Claire Suellentrop wants to live in a world where her friends pursue their bucket list dreams with reckless abandon, where they give their all to doing what they love, and where their health and well-being aren’t compromised in the process. As the health coach behind Eat Well. Party Hard., she’s passionate about creating opportunities for people to grow and thrive, and fuels her own crazy life with a plant-based diet, black coffee and whiskey. Her ebook, Killer Confidence: Anywhere + At Any Weight is available (for free!) right here.