What is a Standard Drink?

Students are often surprised to learn what counts as a drink.  The amount of liquid in the glass, can, or bottle does not necessarily match up to how much alcohol is actually in the drink.  Different types of beer, wine, or malt liquor can have very different amounts of alcohol content.

It’s important to know how much alcohol your drink contains.  In the United States, one "standard" drink (or one alcoholic drink equivalent) contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is equivalent to:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol
  • 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol

It can also be valuable to understand that alcohol enters the bloodstream at the first sip.  Alcohol’s immediate effects can appear within about 10 minutes. As alcohol is consumed, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level increases, which is the amount of alcohol present in the bloodstream.  The higher the BAC, the more impaired an individual becomes by alcohol’s effects. 

What is a Standard Drink?

Information from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink