It depends on what part of "cholesterol" and how much you drink.
Moderate alcohol consumption, and by that, I mean 1-2 drinks (12 oz of beer, 6oz of wine, 1 oz of spirits) per day has been shown in studies to decrease LDL (the "bad" cholesterol or low-density lipoproteins) and raise HDL (the "good" cholesterol" high-density lipoproteins).
Much more than 1-2 drinks per day can greatly increase your triglyceride levels (also part of the cholesterol family of lab blood tests), which if high predispose you to a number of different diseases, including pancreatitis and can contribute to atherosclerosis.
Hope this helps.
To your health,
If you're triglycerides are high (greater than 200 mg/dL), I recommend limiting alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day (Neil MD indicates what equals 1 drink above). If your triglycerides are greater than 500 mg/dL, I recommend eliminating alcohol altogether until you gain control of the numbers.
Alcohol, along with sugar, has the greatest impact on triglyceride levels. If your triglycerides are fine, moderate alcohol consumption shouldn't negatively impact you cholesterol levels.
Here's a side note: Alcohol provides 7 calories/gram and the extra calories can add up quickly. If you're overweight, weight loss will have a positive impact on your cholesterol. Alcohol can work against your weight loss efforts.
All the best,
Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
Tips to Lower Cholesterol