# Here's How Many Standard Drinks Are In A Mixed Drink

In the U.K., they have a pretty straightforward way of calculating their alcohol intake: They use alcohol units, which equate to 10 milliliters or 8 grams of the pure stuff, approximately enough for an average-sized adult to metabolize in an hour's time. Here in the U.S., we use the more ambiguous term "drinks." The CDC does offer guidelines, though, stating that a single drink contains 0.6 ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol. That amounts to one 12-ounce beer at 5% ABV, a 5-ounce glass of 12% ABV wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof (40% ABV) liquor. A mixed drink with a single shot of standard liquor, then, would most likely equate to one drink as defined by the CDC.

Even so, the vague nature of the word lends itself to the kind of humor where someone will claim that they're cutting back and only having one drink, then holding up a cocktail glass the size of a 5-gallon bucket. Exaggerated as that may be, underlying the premise is the fact that the amount of alcohol in a mixed drink may vary wildly depending on the overall composition and spirits used. If your drink is made with overproof liquor, it'll have a much higher amount of alcohol than the standard version. (If it's made with Everclear, just say no.) Some drinks, like the Long Island Iced Tea, are made with a bunch of different types of booze. The answer to the question of how many drinks are in a cocktail is ... get out your calculator.

## ABV isn't everything

You can calculate your cocktail's ABV using a not-so-simple formula. (Multiply the volume of each boozy ingredient by its respective ABV to find out the individual amounts of alcohol they contain, add the values, and divide the sum by the total volume of drink.) However, this is only going to get you so far. And while it's nice that some bars have started posting the ABV of their mixed drinks on the menu, this information alone won't let you know how many standard drinks you're consuming.

If you do have access to a drink recipe, calculating the alcohol units is actually a bit simpler than determining the ABV because you don't need to include nonalcoholic mixers in the equation. Using a slightly modified version of our Between the Sheets as an example, add up the booze in the drink: 1 ounce of cognac, 1 ounce of rum, and half an ounce of triple sec. Assuming the first two are 40% ABV and the last one just 20% ABV, this equates to 2.25 ounces of 80-proof alcohol per drink. Since the CDC's standards allow for 1.5 ounces at this level, divide the amount by 1.5 and you'll find that each cocktail is the equivalent of 1 ½ standard drinks. If you were to use 151-proof rum, however, that spirit would count for double the units, making the overall cocktail a little over two drinks' worth.