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What's a Standard Drink?

A standard drink in the United States is any drink that contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol (about 0.6 fluid ounces or 1.2 tablespoons). Below are U.S. standard drink equivalents. These are approximate, since different brands and types of beverages vary in their actual alcohol content.

12 oz. of beer or cooler8-9 oz. of malt liquor
8.5 oz. shown in a 12-oz. glass that, if full, would hold about 1.5 standard drinks of malt liquor
5 oz. of table wine3-4 oz. of fortified wine
(such as sherry or port) 3.5 oz. shown
2-3 oz. of cordial, liqueur, or aperitif
2.5 oz. shown
1.5 oz. of brandy
(a single jigger)
1.5 oz. of spirits
(a single jigger of 80-proof gin, vodka, whiskey, etc.) Shown straight and in a highball glass with ice to show level before adding mixer*
An image of a  12 oz. can of beer or wine cooler.

~5% alcohol

12 oz.

An image of an 8.5 oz. glass.

~7% alcohol

8.5 oz

An image of a 5 oz. glass.

~12% alcohol

5 oz.

An image of a 3.5 oz. glass.

~17% alcohol

3.5 oz.

An image of a 2.5 oz. glass.

~24% alcohol

2.5 oz.

An image of a 1.5 oz. brandy glass.

~40% alcohol

1.5 oz.

An image of 1.5 oz. highball glass.


1.5 oz.

The percent of “pure” alcohol, expressed here as alcohol by volume (alc/vol), varies by beverage.

Although the "standard" drink amounts are helpful for following health guidelines, they may not reflect customary serving sizes. In addition, while the alcohol concentrations listed are "typical," there is considerable variability in alcohol content within each type of beverage (e.g., beer, wine, distilled spirits).

Many people don’t know what counts as a standard drink and so they don’t realize how many standard drinks are in the containers in which these drinks are often sold. Some examples:

  • For beer, the approximate number of standard drinks in

    • 12 oz. = 1
    • 16 oz. = 1.3

    • 22 oz. = 2
    • 40 oz. = 3.3

    • For malt liquor, the approximate number of standard drinks in

    • 12 oz. = 1.5
    • 16 oz. = 2

    • 22 oz. = 2.5
    • 40 oz. = 4.5
    • For table wine, the approximate number of standard drinks in

    • a standard 750 mL (25 oz.) bottle = 5

    • For 80-proof spirits, the approximate number of standard drinks in

    • a mixed drink = 1 or more*
    • a pint (16 oz.) = 11

    • a fifth (25 oz.) = 17
    • 1.75 L (59 oz.) = 39

*Note: It can be difficult to estimate the number of standard drinks in a single mixed drink made with distilled spirits. Depending on factors such as the type of spirits and the recipe, a mixed drink can contain from one to three or more standard drinks.


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