Mike Parker

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, there are plenty of misconceptions, myths and simply incorrect information about what constitutes a “Standard Drink” in the United States. Here’s the bottom line: in the U.S. one standard drink equal approximately 14 grams of pure alcohol.

Yeah, that really helped a lot, right?

The problem is that alcohol comes in so many different forms; beer, wine, spirits, malt beverages, etc., and each type of drink contains different concentrations of alcohol. So, let’s break that down into some information you can actually use.

  • 1 Standard Drink = 1 shot (1.5 fl oz) of 80 proof distilled spirits (40% Alcohol by Volume - rum, whiskey, tequila, gin, vodka, etc.)
  • 1 Standard Drink = 1 glass (12 fl oz) of regular beer (approximately 5% ABV)
  • 1 Standard Drink = 1 glass (5 fl oz) of table wine (approximately 12% ABV)
  • 1 Standard Drink = 1 glass (9 fl oz) of malt liquor (approximately 9% ABV)

If you’re drinking doubles, that one drink is equal to two standard drinks.

If you’re drinking tall boys, that one beer is equal to one and a half standard drinks.

If you’re drinking a boilermaker (a beer cocktail comprised of a glass of beer and a shot of whiskey), that drink is equal to two standard drinks.

Drinking light beer might help with your calorie count, but it won’t do much to lower your alcohol intake. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, some light beers contain approximately 4.2% ABV. And contrary to popular believe, white wine is no lower in alcohol than red wine.

When it comes to consuming alcohol, you need to know your limit; but it also helps to know what kind of drinks, and what combination of drinks, you can consume before you hit that limit. Always drink responsibly.

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