Alcohol equivalence

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Alcohol equivalence is a system of standard drink sizes of various alcoholic beverages. The amount of alcohol (i.e., ethanol) that is contained in a standard drink varies widely by country.


In Canada, the independent Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) defines a standard drink to be the same as does the United States of America.[1]

Standard Drink Chart
Beverage Amount (mL) Amount (fl. oz.) Colloquial amount Alcohol (% by vol.)
Spirits 44 1.5 one shot 40
Wine 142 5 one glass 10–12
Fortified wine 85 3 one glass 16–18
Beer 341 12 one glass 5

New Zealand[edit]

In New Zealand one standard drink, as defined by the Alcohol Advisory Council, contains 10 grams of ethyl alcohol which is approximately 12.7 mL.^ This is approximately "a 330 mL can of beer or a 100 mL glass of table wine or a 30 mL glass of straight spirits".[2]

United Kingdom[edit]

In the UK, one standard drink or "unit" of alcohol is defined as 10 mL or 8 g of pure alcohol (ethanol). This equals one 25 mL single measure of spirits (ABV 40%), or a third of a pint of beer (ABV 5-6%), or half a standard (175 mL) glass of red wine (ABV 12%).[3]

United States[edit]

In the United States, a standard drink is defined as 0.6 fluid ounce (18 mL or 14 g) of pure alcohol.[4] In the United States, therefore, one standard drink is contained in:

  • a 12-ounce bottle or can of typical (5% ABV) beer
  • a 5-ounce glass of typical (12% ABV) wine
  • a 1.5-ounce shot of typical (80-proof, 40% ABV) liquor (either straight or in a mixed drink)

Alcohol equivalence is emphasized as being important for drinking in moderation by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), American Dietetic Association, National Consumers League, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Standard Drink Chart (US)[5]
Beverage Amount (mL) Amount (fl. oz.) Colloquial amount Alcohol (% by vol.) Alcohol (per drink)
80-proof liquor 44 mL 1.5 fl. oz. one shot 40 0.6 fl. oz.
Wine 148 mL 5 fl. oz. one glass 12 0.6 fl. oz.
Beer 355 mL 12 fl. oz. one can 5 0.6 fl. oz.

See also[edit]