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Alcoholic drink with a slice of lemon, macro photo. Credit: Kryzhov / Deposit Photos

Count Your Drinks

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What Is a Standard Drink?

A "standard" drink is any drink that contains about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol. Below are different drink sizes, each containing approximately the same amount of alcohol and counting as a single standard drink. The examples serve as starting point for comparison.

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Standard Alcoholic Drinks Infographic

Standard Alcoholic Drink

While these are reflections of standard drink sizes based on alcohol by volume (abv), it’s important to note that bars don’t always pour according to standard drink sizes. The best way to know how much you are drinking is to look at the abv % and look at the size of the drink (e.g. 16oz, 12oz, etc.). If you know you got a beer that is 6% abv but it was served in a pint size glass and full, then you know you are drinking MORE than a standard drink. Keeping these measurements in mind based on abv of a drink will help you keep count regardless of what alcohol you are drinking and moderate when drinking drinks with a higher abv. 

Measurements and Additional Information

  • Hard Alcohol & Spirits: 40% abv, 1.5oz
  • Wine: 12% abv, 5oz
  • Regular Beer: 5% abv, 12oz
  • Heavier Beers: 7-8% abv, 8oz
  • Hard Seltzers: 5% abv, 12oz
    • A standard drink refers to one 12-oz. beer, one 5-oz. glass of wine, or one 1.5-oz. shot of distilled spirits..
    • For pregnant women, any drinking presents risk to the fetus.
    • Drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal.
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Binge Drinking

Binge Drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher. For the typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks (for a male), or 4 or more drinks (for a female), in about 2 hours.

Binge drinking puts the drinker at risk of negative consequences such as alcohol overdose, drinking and driving incidents, or alcohol dependence. Sometimes these harms can trickle out to effect the community by either putting others in harms way or disturbing their daily activities, or their living space. Colleges and universities across the country are working to reduce the problem of and negative consequences associated with binge drinking.

  • Source: NIAAA Newsletter (NIH Publication No. 04-5346, Number 3, page 3). (Winter 2004). Bethesda, MD: NIAAA Office of Research Translation and Communications, NIAAA, NIH, DHHS.

Red Cups

Where Do Those Red Cups I Find at Parties Fit In?

So, the first thing you should realize... The Red Cup is Big! The typical red cup is 18 oz. (previously 16 oz. but many stores are phasing out 16 oz. cups in favor of these larger versions). To give that some perspective:

Let's say you've had 3 Red Cups of beer, how many "drinks" have you had? 

Depends. If you have a 4.5 % alcohol beer then you've had 4.5 drinks for your 3 Red Cups. But let's say you are drinking a 6.75% alcohol beer (there are many of them, check here) you've just consumed ~7 alcohol drinks for your 3 Red Cups. The problem is compounded when hard alcohol is used. Let's say you make a mixed drink that is half hard alcohol / half juice in a Red Cup.... The drink you just made is not one standard drink! 

Red Cup
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In that one red cup, there are SIX drinks!