What is One Drink?

Many people are surprised to learn what counts as a drink.  The amount of liquid in your glass, can, or bottle is not necessarily equal to how much alcohol is actually in your drink.  Different types of beer, liquor, or malt liquor can have very different amounts of alcohol content.

That’s why it’s important to know how much alcohol your drink contains.  In the United States, one “standard” drink equals:

  • Beer – One 12-ounce beer—normal-strength beer (5% alcohol). ** Some light beers: (4.2% alcohol).
  • Liquor – 1.5 ounces of liquor (40% alcohol or 80 proof). This is how much whiskey, vodka, gin, tequila, brandy, cognac, etc. is in a measured mixed drink or in a standard-size shot glass. Remember that mixed drinks may not be measured and often contain far more than 1.5 ounces of alcohol.
  •  Malt liquor – Ranges from 6-9% alcohol, so 12 ounces of malt liquor = 1.5 drinks; 40 ounces of malt liquor = 4.5 drinks.
  • Grain alcohol (Everclear) – 95% alcohol or 190 proof and some rums like Bacardi 151 are 151 proof or 75% alcohol.  These liquors are banned in many states because of their high alcohol content.
  • Wine – 5 ounces of standard wine (12% alcohol). This is most table wines: white, red, champagne.