Importance of understanding alcohol content and standard drink equivalents
You know what you like to drink; for me, it’s a Volans Tequila with a cold Mexican Lager. Maybe it’s your favorite margarita, Paloma, Bloody Maria, or ranch water. Whatever you choose, it is always good to know how much alcohol is in each alcoholic beverage. This post will help you understand how much alcohol is in alcoholic beverages. It will also show you a comparison of how much alcohol is in one shot of tequila vs. a regular beer, or how much alcohol is in one glass of wine vs. one shot of tequila or a shot of whiskey vs. tequila.
To compare beer and tequila equally, we must explain a standard drink.
What is a Standard Drink?
According to the United States based National Institutes of Health (NIH), a standard drink is the gold standard of alcoholic beverages. It’s a drink that contains about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol. Why does this matter? It helps us compare apples to apples (or beers to beers) when measuring our alcohol intake.
So, what does a standard drink look like? A standard drink can be a 12-ounce beer with around 5% alcohol, a 5-ounce glass of wine with about 12% alcohol, or a 1.5-ounce shot of your favorite type of alcohol, like vodka or Volans Tequila, with roughly 40% alcohol. Remember that these measurements are ballpark figures, and the alcohol content can vary depending on the brand and type of cocktail or beer you’re drinking. Knowing what a standard drink is, allows us to make more informed choices about how much we’re drinking and helps us not go overboard.
Alcohol Content in Various Beverages
Here is a list of a few popular standard beers and their alcohol contents:
- Budweiser: ABV (Alcohol By Volume) – 5%
- Heineken: ABV – 5%
- Guinness Draught: ABV – 4.2%
- Corona Extra: ABV – 4.5%
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: ABV – 5.6%
Now let’s put those numbers into a standard drink or a standard serving of beer. At Volans Tequila, we love math but leave the heavy calculations to Felipe Camarena; here is a calculator from the NIAA to help you calculate how many standard drinks are in your beer.
The type of beer matters a lot. If you’re going with a light beer or domestic beer might be one thing, but if you’re drinking an Old Rasputin it’s a whole different deal.
- Budweiser 12 oz beer = 1 standard drink
- Heineken 12 ounces of beer = 1 standard drink
- Guinness Draught 14.9 oz = 1 standard drink
- Corona Extra 12 oz = .9 standard drink
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 12 oz = 1.1 standard drink
The alcohol content in wine can vary depending on several factors, like the type of wine, the region, or the process.
Wine alcohol content typically ranges from 12% to 15% ABV. Some wines can go a bit higher, and some a bit lower. Sparkling wines, Rosé, and some white wines (Riesling, Pino Grigio) can be categorized into the lower alcohol content categories, while Red wines (Pino Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel), and some white wines (Sauvignon Blanc, Madeira, Chardonnay) can contain more alcohol. Check the label on your wine to see how much alcohol content.
One standard glass of wine is 5oz, so if your wine has 12% ABV = 1 Standard Drink. But if you’re drinking a higher ABV wine at 15%, that one glass would be 1.3 standard drinks.
Liquor and Spirits
The alcohol content in spirits or hard alcohol or hard liquor can vary even more significantly than in beer or wine. Here are the general alcohol contents of spirits.
- Tequila – Tequila in the US has to be at or above 40% ABV or 80 proof. Some high-proof tequilas can be up to 55% ABV or 110 proof, but not over. If you buy tequila in Mexico or other countries, you can find tequilas containing anywhere from 35%-55% ABV on each 750 ml bottle.
- Whiskey – This would include Scotch, Bourbon, and Rye, all containing between 40% and 50% ABV. Cask Strength or Barrel Proof whiskeys can go well above 50% ABV.
- Vodka or Gin – Most Vodkas and Gins range from 35% to 40%. But you can find some above 40% and 50% ABV.
- Rum – The alcohol content in Rum can range from 40% to 60% ABV. It’s also worth noting that some darker rums can have a higher alcohol content than light or white rum.
- Brandy/Cognac – Alcohol content in Brandy and Cognac ranges from 35% to 60% ABV. It varies depending on the specific brand and style.
- Liqueurs – These liqueurs are flavored spirits that have added sweeteners. These liqueurs can vary the most in our spirit lineup, ranging from 15% to 40 percent alcohol by volume.
These are only broad and estimated ranges of alcohol content. It’s a good idea to check the label for the actual alcohol content.
Standard Serving Size of Tequila
Because we are talking about tequila, we will focus on that. Here is some detailed information.
- Tequila at 40% ABV
- One shot of tequila (or one standard drink) is 1.5 oz at 40% ABV.
- One bottle of tequila (750ml or 25.4oz) at 40% ABV contains 16.9 standard drinks.
- Tequila at 53% ABV
- One shot of tequila (one standard drink) is 1.1 oz at 53% ABV.
- One bottle of tequila (750ml or 25.4oz) at 53% ABV contains 23.1 standard drinks.
How many beers are in one shot of tequila?
One Corona Extra (12oz) = One oz shot (1.4 oz) of Tequila at 40% ABV
Can I get drunk off one single shot of liquor?
Yes, for sure you can! One shot of tequila at 40% ABV contains .6 oz of alcohol. It also depends on your body weight, what you ate, your metabolism, and other factors. California ABC says your liver can process one shot of tequila or one beer per hour. So if you drink several alcoholic drinks in one hour, your liver can’t keep up, and you’ll start feeling the effects.
Be careful of your Alcohol Consumption.
Alcohol consumption and the number of drinks consumed can significantly affect our health. Please pay attention to your alcohol intake when you’re out having a cocktail; younger adults are more susceptible to the negative consequences of excessive drinking. When it comes to vodka shots, tequila shots, or anything ‘derecho,’ it’s also good to remember that the amount of alcohol in a standard shot (about 1.5 ounces) can vary depending on the alcohol’s strength. The bartender could have also poured you a “Jose Jose” style (super stiff) drink. To enjoy an alcoholic drink with less alcohol content, consider mixing tequila, vodka, or another spirit with lime juice and soda water or opting for lighter options like white wine or craft beer.
Understanding the alcohol content in different drinks is vital to responsible drinking. While a standard shot of vodka or tequila contains almost the same amount of alcohol as a 12-ounce lager beer, the effects can be very different due to how fast you drink and how strong the drink is. Enjoy alcoholic beverages in moderation and be aware of their effects. Binge drinking and consuming large amounts of alcohol quickly, such as through shots or beer cocktails like an Irish Car Bomb, can lead to serious health problems and increase the risk of alcohol poisoning and drunk driving incidents.
Bar managers and individuals organizing special occasions should prioritize creating a safe environment for responsible drinking. Educating customers and guests about the effects of alcohol, encouraging the consumption of food alongside drinks, and promoting alternatives to excessive drinking can help prevent alcohol abuse and the associated health risks. The American Addiction Center and similar organizations provide valuable resources for understanding the consequences of alcohol abuse, including liver damage and its impact on overall well-being. Remember, the bottom line is to enjoy alcohol in moderation and always stay within legal limits to ensure everyone’s safety.