November 15, 2021

What is a standard drink?

standard drinks on a bar

Different types of alcoholic drinks contain different amounts of pure alcohol. If you’re somebody who chooses to drink alcohol, this can make it tricky to keep track of how much you’re actually drinking.

In fact, one serving is usually more than one 'standard drink'. 

For example, a 375ml stubby of full-strength beer is usually around 1.4 standard drinks.

An Australian standard drink contains 10g of alcohol (12.5ml of pure alcohol).

It’s handy info to know, because Aussie health experts recommend no more than 4 standard drinks a day and no more than 10 standard drinks in any given week.1

Why? Because each extra drink can increase the risk of injury and accidents and impact on long-term health. This is not to say drinking alcohol will inevitably cause these kind of issues for every person – but it does increase the risk.1

So, if you’re somebody who drinks and would like to keep an eye on your drinking, keeping track of the number of standard drinks in your beverage is one way to do this.

Our handy standard drinks guide can help:

  • Spirits 40% alcohol, 30ml nip
  • Wine 13% alcohol, 100ml average serving
  • Sparkling wine 13% alcohol, 100ml
  • Full Strength Beer 4.9% alcohol, 285ml glass
  • Light Beer 2.7% alcohol, 425ml glass
  • Cider 4.9% alcohol, 285ml glass
Know your standard drinks

Keeping track of your drinks

Other factors that make it difficult to track how much you’re drinking include:

  • varying glass sizes at different venues
  • drinks mixed with unknown quantities of alcohol, e.g. in cocktails and alcoholic punches
  • shared jugs and casks
  • ‘topping up’ glasses before they’re empty.

You can also keep track of how many standard drinks you’re having by:

  • reading the label — all alcohol containers in Australia must show the number of standard drinks they contain
  • using an online calculator — check out the Drinks Calculator or the Standard Drink Calculator
  • asking the bar or restaurant staff — if you’re drinking a cocktail or other type of mixed drink, the bar staff should be able to tell you how many standards are in it.

Why count standard drinks?

For some people, counting standard drinks can be used as a way to help reduce their drinking and stick to the healthier Australian drinking guidelines.

By following the Australian drinking guidelines and having no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 in one day, you can reduce your immediate risk of injury and accidents and your risk of developing cancers, including breast, stomach and bowl.1 Read the guidelines here

Counting your drinks can also help track your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels and help determine whether you’re OK to drive. As a general rule, if you’re planning on drinking, you should drink no more than 1 standard drink per hour.2 You can read more about this here.

Want to know more about standard drinks? Check out the standard drinks guide on the Department of Health website.

  1. National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. Canberra: Australian Government; 2020.
  2. Nadalin T.BAC explained: Everything you need to know: RACV; 2020 [12.11.2021]. 

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