How many times a week do you find yourself asking the question, “To happy hour or not to happy hour?” With the warm weather picking up in New York City, the internal struggle with this age old question is only going to become even more frequent and more difficult to deal with. Before you panic about the downside of after-work drinks, like calorie counts and being unproductive the next day, let’s talk about something positive: why happy hour is good for your health. In the past few years there have been a number of studies declaring the benefits of drinking alcohol, ranging from its ability to prevent osteoporosis and colon cancer, to preventing aging and reducing depression. The more we read, the more it becomes evident that the answer to any future happy hour invite should always be, yes.

Now that that’s settled, we’ve put together a list of what drinks to order and the health benefits associated with each. Please note: these recommendations are based on having a happy hour, meaning fun and coherent moderate drinking with friends and coworkers, as suggested by “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.” Bottoms up!

Gin & Tonic
Nothing’s classier than a good old G&T, not to mention it contains high antioxidant levels and diuretic ingredients that fight kidney and liver disease, combats bad coughs and lung congestion, and can jump start a late period. A new gin on the block known as Anti-a-Gin claims it is the “alcoholic equivalent of a facial,” with the ability to reverse the aging process while you drink. Mind blown.

With a 128 calorie count per 12 ounces, this St. Patrick’s Day staple has been proven to have similar antioxidant properties as red wine, is full of nutrients from its abundance of whole grains, and helps reduce blood clots and heart problems. So basically, they weren’t pulling one over on you with their old advertising slogan “Guinness is good for you!”

Ah, tequila, the exception to every dietary rule. It’s been found that having one shot before dinner will stimulate your appetite, and later aid in digestion after you indulge. This agave-based alcohol “helps people feel full longer, which could lead to lower calorie intake and eventually result in weight loss.” Most importantly, tequila doesn’t give you a hangover. If you need to be productive the next day, go for the gold stuff.

Red Wine
Wine as much as you want because there are so many benefits of red wine that you will spend a large portion of the rest of your day wondering why you haven’t ventured down the road to becoming a wine connoisseur sooner than later. Where do we even begin? Studies on red wine consumption have found it to prevent lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer, improve lung function, act as an anti-aging agent, combat damage from strokes and dementia, reduce risk of depression, and raise levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Moral of the story: have some vino and live a little longer.

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