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What is a Standard Drink?

When you hear the term ‘standard drink’ your first reaction may be to think of a drink served in a standard glass.

It is in fact incorrect to use the terms ‘standard drink’ and ‘standard glass’ interchangeably since they mean two completely different things.

By definition, a standard drink contains approximately 10 grams of alcohol.

60 ml. of port and 100 ml. of red or white wine contain the same amount of alcohol. You may wonder how that’s possible. It is just that the alcoholic content of a drink depends on the kind of drink. So a small glass of port is as strong as a pot of beer. For those unfamiliar with the term, a 285 ml glass of beer is known as a ‘pot of beer’ in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania. On the same lines, a ‘Scotch and Coke’ typically contains as much alcohol as a 100 ml. glass of wine. In other words, 60 ml of port, 100 ml of wine, and 285 ml of beer can all be called standard drinks.

Based on the same calculation, a 200 ml glass of wine (which is usually considered a standard glass) contains 20 grams of alcohol, which roughly translates to two standard drinks. A Bacardi Breezer surprisingly contains 1.2 standard drinks while a full strength pot of beer contains just one standard drink! 375 ml of light beer contains just 8 grams of alcohol, which is about a 0.8 standard drink. A shot of spirits and a glass of port each constitute a 0.9 standard drink. Cocktails but naturally, comprise a combination of multiple standard drinks.

To make it easier to calculate the number of standard drinks contained in a bottle, can or cask of liquor, Australian law makes it mandatory to mention the exact number of standard drinks as well as the percentage of alcohol by volume on the container.

The next time you are drinking, try and mentally calculate how many grams of alcohol you are consuming – you may just be astounded by the results.

Practice Test: 

Which of these servings of drinks contains the most alcohol?

A. 375 ml light beer
B. Pot of full strength beer
C. 200 ml white wine
D. 60 ml port

Correct answer: C

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