Mixed drinks you shouldn't be drinking

Take a look at any bar's cocktail menu and you're faced with a dizzying array of choices. Strong, sweet, sour, pink, green — you name it, you can probably find a drink that matches just about any description. But how do you choose? Are some better than others? 

When it comes to mixed drinks, we're sorry to say it, but they're not all created equal. And it's not just because of the astronomical calorie count some of these drinks contain or the inordinate amount of sugar you're slurping through a straw. Some cocktails are best avoided for other — more surprising — reasons.

Take those dollar cocktails some chain restaurants tout — are they even worth a measly 100 pennies? Do Moscow mules come with a hidden health risk? And what makes sangria so deceptive? See, there's plenty to uncover in the world of mixed drinks, and you might actually need one to steel yourself against these revelations. Fair warning: If your favorite cocktail comes out of a slushie machine, run. The reason for avoiding those pre-made frozen drinks falls into the "disturbing" category.

Mojitos, when you're out

Mojitos — they sound like the perfect choice for bar patrons looking for a light, refreshing libation that still packs a boozy punch. Before you order your next minty drink, though, consider this: Cocktails that require fresh ingredients, like the mint for that mojito, can be a risky order in many bars. 

Adam Levy of The Alcohol Professor told Money that bars don't serve enough mojitos to keep the freshest mint on hand, so you could very likely end up with week-old herbs in your cocktail. Everyone who's ever sipped a mojito knows that fresh mint is a must for a great one, and browning, dried up mint won't cut it. There's also a little matter of those spoiled mint leaves potentially carrying bacteria. Hard pass on that.

One more reason not to order a mojito: Your bartender will probably hate you for it. That's because they take significantly longer to make with all the muddling and shaking involved, and, if you're in a crowded bar, they're definitely on the do-not-order list. Some bartenders might flat-out refuse to indulge your mojito whims, depending on the size of the crowd. Bartender Noah Esperas told SFGate, "Honestly, if I am slammed at 1 a.m. and someone asks for four mojitos, I won't make them." Don't be that customer. Make your mojitos at home instead.

Mudslides every day

When you're looking for dessert in cocktail form, you turn to the mudslide. There's no doubt that this frozen drink is delicious — it's got Kahlua, Bailey's, vodka, and, depending on which recipe you follow, it's got milk, heavy cream, or vanilla ice cream. For good measure, it probably boasts a hefty swirl of chocolate sauce on the inside of the glass, and it comes topped with plenty of whipped cream and even more chocolate sauce. Like we said, it's delicious.

But all that decadence does come with a few calories — 662, to be exact. For the sake of comparison, that's not too far off the calorie count of a medium chocolate shake from McDonald's, but the shake surprisingly comes in at 32 calories less than a mudslide. What we're saying is, you probably don't think it's a great idea to drink a Mickey D's chocolate shake every day, so you probably don't want to drink a mudslide every day either.

Dollar cocktails

There's a certain chain restaurant out that that's known for their dollar cocktails. It may or may not rhyme with Schmapplebee's. Okay, fine, it's Applebee's. They trot out a new dollar cocktail offering just about every month — things like the Dollarita, the Dollar L.I.T., and the Dollarama. The question is: Are these cocktails worth even one of your hard-earned dollars?

According to an Applebee's insider, they decidedly are not. Darron Cardosa, aka The B*tchy Waiter, who's dedicated to pulling back the curtain on the underbelly of the food industry, has received plenty of evidence from an alleged Applebee's bartender that proves these dollar cocktails are pretty much exactly what you'd expect them to be (via Vice).

In a video that shows the Dollarita-making process, the bartender explains that it all starts with a big ol' bucket, to which one gallon of margarita mix concentrate, one gallon of bottom-shelf tequila, and three gallons of tap water get added. For those of you keeping track, that's one part booze, 4 parts not booze. The L.I.T is made with a similar ratio of water to pre-made mix that "smells like rubbing alcohol mixed with playdough." Mmm.

Can you get drunk on dollar cocktails? Apparently you can… around L.I.T number five. Which only proves the dollar Long Island isn't worth its salt. As strong as they typically are, it definitely shouldn't take five to feel a buzz.

Pina coladas

No drink makes you feel like you're in a tropical paradise more than the piña colada. They're creamy and dreamy, sure, and those super-cute mini umbrellas are hard to beat, but they're also a bit of a sugar bomb. That tall 12-ounce frozen beverage you're sucking down faster than your bartender can make them? Yeah, they have 84 grams of sugar each. The American Heart Association says that women should limit their sugar intake to 25 grams per day, and men should have 37.5 grams at most. You don't have to be a math whiz to see that one piña colada is more than three days worth of sugar for the ladies.

Is a piña colada really worth it? For as much sugar as you get from just one coconut-y cocktail, you could eat eight glorious glazed doughnuts from Krispy Kreme. Or you could savor a 20-ounce chocolate Frosty from Wendy's (with a few fries for dipping, obviously). Or you could eat 18 Oreo cookies. What we're saying here is that, for all that sugar, there are plenty of other (possibly better?) things to eat and drink.

Bottomless drinks

Brunch with bottomless drinks. It doesn't get much better than that, right? Actually, it does. In what really shouldn't be surprising news, it turns out that bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys don't stack up when it comes to alcohol content or quality. Come on, did you really think a restaurant was going to serve you unlimited drinks for $15 and use the good stuff?

According to Jordana Rothman, who penned "The Complete Guide to Hating Brunch" for First We Feast, "The average bargain mimosa consists of a half to two-thirds pour of OJ and a few glugs of bottom-rack sparkling wine to make the thing foam up. The juice is mostly a mask for acrid, poor-quality bubbly— and its added sugar content means that a late-day hangover is a lock." And while you can drink several of these cocktails, you won't achieve a "serious buzz" without effort, which means you'll "be taxing your bladder even more than your liver." And Rothman added not to "get [her] started" on bloody Marys.

A novelty, yes. But worth even the lowest price? Probably not.

Moscow mules in a copper mug

Moscow mules, served in those oh-so-trendy copper mugs, are one of the easiest-to-drink cocktails around. The combination of ginger beer, vodka, and lime can actually be a bit dangerous — before you know it, you've knocked back a few too many mules and brunchtime suddenly turns into naptime. So what's the problem with this light and refreshing drink, other than its ability to sneak up on you?

That trendy copper mug is the problem — or it could be, anyway. In 2017, an advisory bulletin from Iowa's Alcoholic Beverages Division suggested that the Moscow mule's serving vessel of choice could lead to copper poisoning due to the fact that "foods that have a pH below 6.0" should not come into contact with copper, and "the pH of a traditional Moscow Mule is well below 6.0." The memo continued, "High concentrations of copper are poisonous and have caused foodborne illness. When copper and copper alloy surfaces contact acidic foods, copper may be leached into the food." 

Snopes chimed in on the issue, reporting that, yes, acidic liquids will reportedly cause copper to leach into your drinks in unlined mugs, but it's unclear how much it would take to affect a person or how long the drink would need to sit in the mug for there to be a problem. 

You can avoid any risk whatsoever by skipping the copper mug — it'll still taste good in glass, we promise. 

Frozen drinks from a machine

We've all ordered a yard o' margaritas at some point in our lives — probably when we were roaming the Las Vegas strip or chilling poolside in Cancun on spring break — either way, that yard of frozen drink sounded like the very best idea at the time. But near the end of three full feet of liquid, there's nothing but regret and the realization that it definitely wasn't the very best idea, for the singular reason that you feel totally water-logged.

Potential for bloating aside, there's another good reason to avoid any and all frozen drinks that get dispensed from a machine, regardless of their size. According to bartender Tim Dunn, who spoke to PureWow about what cocktails you should never order, those pre-mixed margaritas and daiquiris have a couple problems. For starters, because bartenders are constantly refilling the machine with mix and booze, there's no telling how much of one you're actually getting. Are you willing to drop $10 on what amounts to a virgin daiquiri? Perhaps the more compelling reason to avoid slushie cocktails, though, Dunn says, is that those machines likely don't get cleaned very often. Who's up for a margarita on the rocks instead?

Anything with top-shelf liquor

Mixed drinks just aren't the place for the priciest booze you can get your hands on. Why not? Take it from this bartender of Reddit: "You don't pay top $$ for good whisky to overpower it with Coke. It's like pouring ketchup and mustard on Kobe beef steak. It's simply … wrong."

Another Redditor agreed, using a top-shelf cognac to illustrate their point, saying, "Hennessy is a wonderful beverage. Smooth as silk, easy to drink, and like all brandy (cognac is brandy, folks) it takes on the flavor of whatever you mix it with. So Hennessy and Coke tastes about the same as just Coke. In which case why even order the Hennessy instead of just well brandy? You're just throwing an extra $4 at the drink price because it's top shelf now."

The thing is that top-shelf liquor is typically best enjoyed on its own, without sickly sweet soda or overpowering citrus to mute its carefully crafted flavors. When it comes to mixed drinks, if the other ingredients don't complement the flavor profile of that $20 per shot of bourbon you've asked to be used, you're no better off than if you'd had the drink made with the bottom-shelf stuff. As mixologist Ian Cox told Eater, "As long as your bartender is making the cocktail properly, there just isn't a need for a higher-end spirit…"

Long Island iced teas

Can you think of a single night when Long Island iced teas were the drink of choice that ended well? Probably not. The LIIT is the drink you order when you're looking to get — excuse us for this — lit.

There's good reason a Long Island gets you buzzed and fast — it boasts 3.75 ounces of alcohol. Considering a shot is 1.5 ounces, that means you're sucking down what amounts to two-and-a-half shots in no time flat. By LIIT number two, you're well on your way to doing things you're probably going to regret in the morning.

Extra booziness aside, Patrick Williams, beverage director at Punch Bowl Social, told Thrillist there's another reason you shouldn't be drinking Long Islands, and it has more to do with quality than quantity. "It's a lot of booze, but usually the lower-shelf stuff — the well products," Williams explained. "It gets thrown into the glass with not a lot of care or effort." Plus, they could have as many as 780 calories each, and, according to The Alcohol Professor's Adam Levy (via Money), "You look like an idiot drinking it over [age] 25."

Pro tip: For those of you who are going to keep right on ordering LIITs anyway… don't ask for it to be made with no ice in the hopes that you'll get more alcohol. Says one bartender on Reddit, "You don't get more booze, you get more sour mix. Which is awful. Enjoy your heartburn."

White Russians, from a bar

Another cocktail that goes on the "don't order anything with fresh ingredients" list is the White Russian. Sure, it's a perfectly tasty after-dinner drink, and you should definitely make them at home with fresh cream. But that fresh cream is where the problem lies when you're ordering this coffee-infused delight at a bar.

As with the fresh mint, cream is one of those ingredients that bars just don't use a lot of, and, as a result, there's a good chance it's more funky than fresh. Bartender Timothy Dunn told Money that there's a good chance the cream or milk you're sipping in your cocktail is expired and possibly even well on its way to going sour. Think about it — cream only lasts for about a week, and, unless there's a big run on White Russians, it's unlikely that a jug is going to get used in that amount of time.

Sangria

When you're scanning a cocktail menu looking for the so-called healthiest option, it's understandable why you would stop at sangria. Red wine, a little brandy, and fresh fruit? That's practically the green juice of the cocktail world, isn't it? It turns out that sangria can be a bit deceiving, though, and it could have a lot more sugar and more calories than you might expect from a wine-based drink. 

"Don't be fooled," registered dietitian Keri Glassman told Fitness Magazine. "Although I love the benefits of red and white wine, sangria often has additional fruit juice, simple syrup, and table sugar mixed in, making this cocktail very caloric."

Since bulk batches of sangria are likely already mixed by the time you order your pitcher, it's hard to know exactly how much of what went into the concoction. That's why, if you're watching your sugar intake, it's probably best to skip the sangria.

Any, depending on where you are

Can you waltz into a dive bar and order the latest, trendiest mixed drink that consists of ingredients most people have never even heard of, let alone know where to procure them? Sure. Will you get said craft cocktail placed in front of you with a garnish of edible gold leaf and rose water mist? Not a chance.

But that doesn't stop dive bar patrons from trying. New York bartender Will Benedetto recounted a similar story to Food & Wine of a customer who tried to order "a short ride in a fast machine" from his dive bar, explaining that it contained "duck-fat washed gin, Vermouth caviar, and something called 'sea foam.'" Asks Benedetto, "Why would you think a dive bar has gins fat-washed with exotic meats, caviar anything, or sea foam?" That's a very good question, and it proves the importance of reading the room, so to speak. Don't be that customer ordering a complicated craft cocktail when a bar clearly can't accommodate it.

As one bartender on Reddit advises: "Just know what type of bar you're in, that's it. If [you're] in a dive bar don't ask to see the wine list or order craft cocktails. If it's a busy club/party bar don't order an Old Fashioned or other multi step drink (the quality will suck regardless). If you're at a craft bar don't order Long Islands or generic beer. Don't go to [an] Irish bar and order a margarita." Simple enough, no?