Apr 08 2013

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What’s in your drink really?

Most Harvard students (we hope) know that a standard drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5
ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. But do you know that not all beers, wines, and
hard liquors are made the same? Knowing the alcohol content of the can or solo cup you’re
holding is just as important to judge how many drinks you have had.

For example, in college, you may come across a range of beers. Your typical Bud Light has
4.2% alcohol by volume, which is only 0.8 standard drinks. The closest to a standard drink
would be a Blue Moon at 5.4% alcohol by volume. But if you pick up a Natty Ice, which has
5.9% alcohol by volume, you have 1.2 standard drinks. And a Mike’s Hard Lemonade at
7.0% alcohol by volume is about 1.4 standard drinks.

Alcohol content in hard liquor can also vary greatly. On the bottle, you will see it written
as “proof”, which is double the alcohol by volume percentage. So what we understand
as a standard drink of hard alcohol is 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor, or 40% alcohol by
volume. The handle of Smirnoff you may pour from is 80 proof, so a shot of that is one
standard drink. The new Tennessee Honey Jack Daniels is only 70 proof, so a 1.5 ounce shot is around 0.8 standard drinks. And Bacardi’s 151 rum is 151 proof, so a 1.5 ounce shot is
actually 1.8 standard drinks.

Next time you are out, just check the label quick, and remember that not all 12-ounce beers
pack the same punch and shots are not created equal. Be mindful of what kind of beverage
you are enjoying so that you can keep track of your night. You’re smart. Party smarter.beer

Hard liquor

Post by Hilary Hayssen, CEO ’13

Permanent link to this article: http://www.harvarddapa.org/2013/04/whats-in-your-drink-really/

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