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What is a standard drink?

Number 1.25 revised June 2009
For general audience

An Australian standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol (12.5ml of pure alcohol). By counting standard drinks you can keep track of how much you are drinking and how that compares to the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol.

This fact sheet provides a guide to how many standard drinks are in common containers of alcohol.

For more information about a specific alcoholic drink, read the label on the bottle, can or cask. It will list approximately how many standard drinks are inside the container.

Try pouring a standard drink

Try our interactive tool to see if you can estimate the size of a standard drink.

Adobe Flash Player 8 or later is required to view the ADF Interactive Drink Measure below.  (Please note Adobe Flash is not supported on iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad.)


How many standard drinks are in a…?

Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of how much alcohol you are actually drinking because:

  • glass sizes are not the same in different places
  • different types of drinks contain different amounts of pure alcohol
  • sometimes drinks are mixed with unknown quantities of alcohol, such as in cocktails and alcoholic punches
  • sometimes jugs and casks are shared
  • glasses may be 'topped up' before they are empty.


Some of these problems can be overcome by using a standard measure of the amount of alcohol that is being drunk, called a 'standard drink'.

Pot of beer (285ml)

Full strength (4.8% alc./vol) = 1.1 standard drinks

Mid strength (3.5% alc./vol) = 0.8 standard drinks

Low strength (2.7% alc./vol) = 0.6 standard drinks 

Stubby/can of beer (375ml)

Full strength (4.8% alc./vol) = 1.4 standard drinks

Mid strength (3.5% alc./vol) = 1.0 standard drink

Low strength (2.7% alc./vol) = 0.8 standard drinks

 Red, white or sparkling wine (12% alc./vol)

Small glass (100ml) = 1.0 standard drink

Average restaurant serve (150ml) = 1.4 standard drinks

Bottle (750ml) = 7.5 standard drinks

Fortified wine (18% alc./vol)

Standard serve (60ml) = 0.9 standard drinks

Spirits (40% alc./vol)

'Shot' or 'nip' (30ml) = 1 standard drink

Bottle (700ml) = 22 standard drinks

Ready-to-drink (RTD) or pre-mixed spirits/wine

275ml bottle full strength (5.0% alc./vol) = 1.1 standard drinks

375ml can/bottle full strength (5.0% alc./vol) = 1.5 standard drinks

275ml bottle high strength (7.0% alc./vol) = 1.5 standard drinks

375ml can/bottle high strength (7.0% alc./vol) = 2.1 standard drinks

(Adapted from Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol, Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council, 2009)

 What are the potential problems with drinking too much alcohol?

Drinking in excess of recommended guidelines can have harmful effects on your health.

These risks include:

  • Short-term risks and harms such as hangovers, headaches, nausea, shakiness, vomiting, memory loss, risk of falls and injury, assaults, car accidents, unplanned pregnancy, and accidental death
  • Long-term risks and harms such as cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, brain damage, memory loss and sexual dysfunction.


Excessive alcohol use can also affect many other areas of your life, including family, work and personal relationships. You may feel ashamed and embarrassed by your behaviour while intoxicated. You might experience problems at work or school and legal and financial problems. For example, you might lose valuable items such as mobile phones, spend recklessly while intoxicated, damage your own or public property, or have to take time off work or school due to hangovers.

Remember, there is no safe level of drinking.

More information

  • Fact sheet: Guidelines for low-risk drinking  
  • For more information about standard drinks and the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol visit www.alcohol.gov.au.
  • If you are worried about the amount you are drinking, and would like help to cut down, see your family doctor or contact the alcohol and other drug service in your state or territory.
  • For more information on drugs and drug prevention contact DrugInfo.
 
Information you heard is intended as a general guide only. This audio is copyrighted by the Australian Drug Foundation. Visit www.DrugInfo.ADF.org.au for more