What Is a “standard drink”?
The “standard drink” is a useful way to keep track of how much someone is drinking.
All of these would be considered one standard drink:
- 12 ounces of 5% alcohol by volume (ABV) beer
- 5 ounces of 12% ABV wine
- One shot (1.5 ounces) of 40% ABV spirits
A standard drink contains 14 grams or 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol.
A quick way to calculate how many standard drinks a particular drink is equivalent to is to multiply the number of ounces by the ABV percentage and then divide by 60. For each of the standard drink types given above, this calculation will give you “1” since each is equivalent to one standard drink.
Variances On Standard Drinks
Many drinks have more alcohol than is found in a standard drink. For example:
- The alcohol by volume in craft beers can vary greatly, sometimes reaching levels above 10%.
- Fortified wines, such as port, may have ABV values up around 20%.
- A mixed drink may have more than one shot of a spirit, increasing the amount of alcohol in it. Spirits may also have a higher alcohol concentration than the standard 80 proof, which is 40% alcohol.
Here are examples of drinks that contain more alcohol than one standard drink:
When serving customers alcohol, it is important to consider not just the number of actual drinks they’ve had, but the number of equivalent standard drinks, because this will give you a more accurate sense of how much alcohol they have consumed.