Diet Busters: 10 High-Calorie Holiday Drinks

Watch out for these diet-destroying beverages this holiday season.

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on September 25, 2008
From the WebMD Archives

Holiday celebrations can translate into lots of extra calories from drinks you don't normally consume, including the obligatory eggnog as well as other alcoholic and non-alcoholic favorites. And of course, there's the array of festive holiday concoctions found at coffee chains across America, including peppermint mochas and pumpkin spice lattes.

The most popular holiday drink at Starbucks is a perfect example. According to Alisa Martinez, communications manager for Starbucks Coffee Co., the No. 1 holiday drink at Starbucks in November and December is the peppermint mocha. A regular 16-ounce serving with all the trimmings comes to 470 calories and 22 grams of fat (including 13 grams of saturated fat). But the news isn't all bad for Starbucks fans: Make it a 12-ounce peppermint mocha and order it with nonfat milk and no whipped cream, and you're down to 220 calories and 2 grams of fat (none of which are saturated).

The peppermint mocha is by no means the only contender for the high-calorie holiday drink title. There are several other holiday drinks that are so high in calories and/or fat, they should either be avoided or considered your big dessert for the day. Some are actually higher in calories and fat than premium ice cream!

Here are 10 of the highest-calorie drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, that you're likely to come across this holiday season.

1. Peppermint Mocha (coffeehouse), made with whole milk and whipped cream.

Per 16-ounce serving:

470 calories

61 g carbohydrate

22 g fat

13 g saturated fat

80 mg cholesterol

2. Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino (coffeehouse), made with pumpkin spice flavors, milk, ice, and whipped cream.

Per 16-ounce serving:

470 calories

74 g carbohydrate

13 g fat

7 g saturated fat

50 mg cholesterol

3. Hot Buttered Rum, made with butter, brown sugar, spices, whipped cream, and rum.

Per serving:

418 calories

35 g carbohydrate

17 g fat

11 g saturated fat

51 mg cholesterol

4. Pumpkin Spice Latte (coffeehouse),made with pumpkin spice flavors, espresso, steamed milk, and whipped cream.

Per 16-ounce serving:

410 calories

51 g carbohydrate

17 g fat

10 g saturated fat

55 mg cholesterol

5. Margarita, made with limeade, tequila, triple sec, and ice.

Per serving (about 9 ounces, not including ice):

408 calories

25 g carbohydrate

0 g fat

0 g saturated fat

0 mg cholesterol

6. White Russian, made with vodka, coffee liqueur, and 1 1/2 ounces liquid light whipping cream.

Per serving:

355 calories (or 286 if you use half-and-half instead of whipping cream)

14 g carbohydrate

13 g fat (5 if using half-and-half)

8 g saturated fat (3 if using half-and-half)

47 mg cholesterol (16 with half-and-half)

7. Eggnog (regular store-bought, not including any added liquor)

Per 1-cup serving:

350 calories

34 g carbohydrate

19 g fat

11 g saturated fat

149 mg cholesterol

8. Hot Chocolate (coffeehouse), made with steamed milk, mocha syrup, vanilla syrup, and whipped cream)

Per 12-ounce serving:

320 calories

38 g carbohydrate

16 g fat

9 g saturated fat

50 mg cholesterol

9. Mud Slide, made with vodka, Kahlua, Bailey's Irish cream, and half-and-half.

Per 4-ounce serving:

295 calories

20 g carbohydrate

8 g fat

5 g saturated fat

15 mg cholesterol

10. Brandy Alexander, made with brandy, dark creme de cacao, and half-and-half.

Per 4-ounce serving:

246 calories

8 g carbohydrate

9 g fat

6 g saturated fat

20 mg cholesterol

A Few More Favorite Holiday Drinks

Champagne is the classic toast at many holiday parties, and martinis are another popular standby. But Matt Raftree, beverage and bakery operations manager for Cheesecake Factory Inc., says the Mojito is, across the board, their top bar beverage.

While these aren't the highest-calorie drinks around, it's still essential to watch your portions. One drink won't break the 200-calorie mark, but two or three will put you quickly in the 360- to 540-calorie range.

Here's the rundown:


Per typical serving (2 1/2 ounces gin, 1/2 ounce vermouth, 1 cup ice, and 1 green olive):

185 calories

1 g carbohydrate

0.5 g fat

0 g saturated fat

0 mg cholesterol


Per 1-cup serving:

182 calories

5 g carbohydrate

0 g fat

0 g saturated fat

0 mg cholesterol


Per typical serving (1 1/2 ounces rum, 4 1/2 ounces club soda, 1/2 lime, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar):

180 calories

22 g carbohydrate

0 g fat

0 g saturated fat

0 mg cholesterol

When it comes to alcoholic drinks in general, Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, advises: "Don't drink on an empty stomach!" To cut calories, she also recommends drinking a no-calorie beverage in between your alcoholic drinks (like water, coffee, tea or diet soda).

Holiday Drinks Without All the Calories

The good news is that you can now find lower-calorie versions of many classic holiday drinks. Here are three options:

Light Lattes

For every high-calorie latte, there's usually a lighter latte. Take the pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks, for example. Order the 12-ounce pumpkin spice latte with nonfat milk and no whipped cream and suddenly you're talking about just 200 calories, 0 grams fat, 5 mg cholesterol, and 38 grams of carbohydrate (and 40% Daily Value for calcium is the bonus).

For those who like their festive drinks well chilled, a 12-ounce Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino LIGHT (blended creme) without whipped cream has 140 calories, 0 grams fat, 5 mg cholesterol, and 30 grams of carbohydrate (along with 30% of the Recommended Daily Value for calcium).

Light Eggnog

You can find light eggnog in supermarkets across the country. One cup will give you 240 calories and 5 grams of fat (2 grams saturated). This may sound like a lot, but it's a lot less than regular eggnog.

Sparkling Cider

"Our sales of sparkling cider more than triple over the holidays," says John Martinelli, president of Martinelli's, which sells its sparkling apple cider and cider-and-fruit blends all over the United States. If you serve it in champagne or wine glasses instead of regular glasses, 8 ounces will seem like a full serving (instead of 12 ounces). An 8-ounce serving of sparkling cider has 140 calories.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Alisa Martinez, communications manager, Starbucks Coffee Co., Seattle. Matt Raftree, beverage and bakery operations manager, Cheesecake Factory, Inc., Calabasas, Calif. Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD; certified diabetes educator, national spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association. John Martinelli, president, Martinelli & Co. Watsonville, Calif. Starbucks web site. web site. ESHA Research Food Processor Nutritional Analysis Software.

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