There are just 64 calories in a 1.5-ounce shot of vodka, according to various sources on the internet.
At first glance, that sounds pretty reasonable. An apple has 95 calories, after all. And internet-famous avocados average 322 calories a piece!
Well, sure. But fruits and vegetables have considerably more vitamins and minerals than spirits, and few people eat an entire avocado in one sitting.
Unfortunately, even without ill-conceived produce comparisons, that vodka figure is misleading. The USDA reports that vodka, tequila, whiskey, rum, and gin all approximate 98 calories per 1.5-ounce pour. “Different brands and types of beverages differ in ingredients … and vary in their actual calorie content,” reads footnote three of 13 in an appendix to “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020,” a site managed by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
One reason for the discrepancy is alcohol content, with which calories increase in tandem. Vodka that is 80-proof, or 40 percent alcohol by volume, starts at 64 calories per shot. Standard-issue Absolut, Smirnoff, Grey Goose, Ketel One, Seagram’s, and Tito’s are all 80-proof.
Higher-proof vodkas include 100-proof Absolut 100 and Stolichnaya 100°, as well as niche labels such as New Jersey’s Devil’s Springs (151 proof) and Balkan 176, a 176-proof vodka made in Bulgaria.
The caloric content of cocktails is similarly varied. Vodka Sodas made with 80-proof vodka and calorie-free soda generally clock in at 100 calories or less. A Vodka Tonic, however, comprises an additional 83 calories and more than 20 grams of sugar per serving.
A Screwdriver has approximately 164 calories. While no one is calling it a health beverage, an 8-ounce pour of orange juice can contain up to 124 milligrams of vitamin C and is a decent source of potassium.
A vodka Martini starts at 124 calories and goes up to 140, depending on how it is prepared. Meanwhile, your average 14-ounce Bloody Mary starts at 200 or so, provided it isn’t topped with a slice of bacon (43 calories).
“It doesn’t take much to change the calories in vodka,” Marcia Frost writes sagely in LiveStrong.com.
All things considered, counting calories is a limiting way to approach nutritional health, let alone alcohol consumption. Whether you’re sidling up to the bar to order a Vodka Soda or plate of Buffalo wings, remember two things: Life is short, and moderation is key.