Here's How Many Shots Are In Most Standard Mixed Drinks

A stiff cocktail at the end of a long day is always a treat. But unlike beer and wine, it can be tough to know just how much alcohol you're drinking if you didn't mix that cocktail yourself. Ordering drinks at the bar or at a restaurant may have you drinking more than you intended to, simply because most menus don't list out the alcohol content of their mixed drinks. Luckily, most cocktails contain a fairly standardized amount of alcohol from bar to bar. Most standard hard alcoholic beverages have 1.25 ounces of liquor in them, or one standard shot. 

Of course, specific cocktails sometimes have more, such as margaritas, which contain around one and a half shots; martinis, which have two shots; and Long Island iced teas, which are notoriously boozy and contain a whopping four standard shots. While there's room for variation between different establishments and bartenders, if you follow this rule of thumb, you'll at least have a general idea of how much alcohol is in which drink.

What is a standard drink?

So, what is a "standard drink," and is it different from a standard shot? A standard drink in the United States, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, contains the equivalent of a standard shot: 1.5 oz of a 40% ABV hard liquor. Standard drinks also apply to beer and wine. A standard drink for beer is 12 ounces of 5% ABV beer; for wine, it's 5 ounces of 12% ABV wine.

ABV, which stands for alcohol by volume, does vary between beverages and brands, so it's important to remember that not all beer, wine, and hard alcohol are made the same. But using this information as a guide can help you to keep tabs on alcohol consumption over the course of a night, especially when you're not the one behind the bar. A single drink isn't always a "standard drink," and in many cases could be significantly more.

Simple standard drinks to make at home

Having a few drinks out can be fun, but there are some benefits to mixing cocktails at home. For one, it's much easier to control what goes into each drink, from ingredients to the number of shots in each serving. To make standard drinks that are easy and delicious at home, we've got a few recommendations. 

Plenty of cocktails are just a mix of a shot of alcohol, simple syrup, and fresh juice. Try a gimlet, which is a shot of gin, an ounce of lime juice, and an ounce of simple syrup. If gin isn't your thing, you can go for a simple daiquiri, made with a shot of light rum, half an ounce of lime juice, and half an once of simple syrup. 

You can adjust these recipes as desired, if you prefer a boozier drink; then, simply shake well and serve over ice.