In the United States, a standard drink is any alcoholic beverage that contains 0.6 fluid ounces (14 grams) of pure alcohol. That equals about 1.2 tablespoons of pure alcohol.
One Standard DrinkThe following are generally considered the equivalent of one standard drink:
- 12 oz. of beer or wine cooler
- 8-9 oz. of malt liquor
- 5 oz. of table wine
- 3-4 oz. of fortified wine (sherry or port)
- 2-3 oz. of liqueur, cordial or apertif
- 1.5 oz. of brandy
- 1.5 oz. of spirits (whiskey, gin, vodka, etc.)
How Many 'Drinks' Are in a Bottle?Unless you are in a bar or restaurant, you are unlikely to purchase your alcohol by the drink, but instead will purchase in larger containers. Here are the number of drinks contained in some popular containers:
Beer - There is one standard drink in a regular 12 oz. beer, but there are 1 1/2 standard drinks in a 16 oz. "tall boy." The new popular "40s," which are made up of 40 oz. of beer, contain 3 1/2 standard drinks.
Malt Liquor - By definition, malt liquor contains more alcohol than regular beer. A 12 oz. can or bottle of malt liquor contains 1 1/2 standard drinks, not one drink. Likewise, a 40 oz. container of malt liquor contains 4 1/2 standard drinks. In other words, one 40 oz. can of malt liquor exceeds the daily guidelines for low-risk drinking.
Wine - No, one bottle of wine is not one drink. The usual 750 ml wine bottle contains at least 5 standard drinks. A bottle of "fortified wine," such as sherry or port, contains almost 8 standard drinks.
Hard Liquor - A standard drink contains only 1.5 oz. of 80-proof liquor. So, that means a half pint of hard liquor contains 4 1/2 drinks and a pint contains 8 1/2 drinks. A fifth (750 ml) contains 17 standard drinks.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "What's a Standard Drink?" Updated 2005.