How Much Alcohol Is There in a ‘Standard’ Drink? These 11 Countries Disagree from How Much Alcohol Is There in a ‘Standard’ Drink? These 11 Countries Disagree

How Much Alcohol Is There in a ‘Standard’ Drink? These 11 Countries Disagree

American guidelines define one drink as a serving containing 14 grams of ethanol; that definition is certainly not universal
beer wine

Photo Modified: Flickr / julie corsi / CC BY 4.0

How Much Alcohol Is There in a ‘Standard’ Drink? These 11 Countries Disagree

beer wine

Photo Modified: Flickr / julie corsi / CC BY 4.0

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans discuss alcohol consumption, stating that women can enjoy one standard drink daily while men can enjoy two. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism lists a standard drink as 12 ounces of beer (roughly five percent ABV), five ounces of wine (at about 12 percent ABV), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. These drinks all contain 14 grams of pure alcohol (ethanol). For men, that’s a daily total of 28 grams of alcohol, while women can have up to 14 grams per day. With that being said, it’s obvious that consuming more than these suggested quantities could be detrimental for your health and your waistline. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

Outside of the United States, it gets a little more complicated. Standard sizes of alcoholic beverages tend to vary in other countries. One drink equaling 14 grams of ethanol isn’t an idea accepted worldwide. In fact, the World Health Organization says that a standard drink should be slightly less boozy, containing just 10 grams of alcohol. The Philippines, Chile, Grenada, and Mexico, however, agree that 14 grams is standard. In some places, there’s no debate about a standard serving size; alcohol is illegal in these 10 countries.

What about others? You may be surprised to see the size of some of the “standard” drinks enjoyed in other countries. Follow the jump for our slideshow on How Much Alcohol Is in a ‘Standard’ Drink? These 11 Countries Disagree.

Australia

Australia

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The Department of Health in Australia provides a comprehensive list of standard drink sizes. This guide shows that one 285-milliliter glass of 4.8-percent ABV beer is equivalent to 1.1 standard drinks. If 12 ounces is a standard beer in America, Australia's 285-milliliter brew measures slightly less than 10 ounces. One standard glass of wine is also smaller in Australia,  measuring 100 milliliters or 3.4 ounces — but the average ABV is considered to be 13 percent to our 12. And a standard serving of 80-proof liquor is one ounce as opposed to the American 1.5-ounce standard. The government recommendation is that both men and women may enjoy a total of 20 grams of pure alcohol daily — so the women get a little more than their American counterparts and the men get a little less.

Click here to see why you need to be careful while crushing beer cans in Australia.

Austria

Austria

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According to The Guardian, “a drink is not a drink in Austria unless it has 20” grams of pure alcohol. That equates to 17 ounces of beer, seven ounces of wine, or two ounces of distilled spirits. You’ve got us beat, Austria.

Click here for In Austria, You Can Soak in Beer-Filled Hot Tubs​.

Canada

Canada

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Canadian mental health and substance use information provider Here to Help shows that our neighbor to the north has a slightly smaller standard size than America does. That’s 12 ounces of beer (five percent ABV), five ounces of wine (12 percent ABV), and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (80-proof or 40 percent ABV). These sizes all contain 13.6 grams of pure alcohol.

Here's the story behind when one Angry Man Sued Guinness Because It’s Sometimes Brewed in Canada, Not Ireland.

China

China

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According to the International Center for Alcohol Policies, China’s standard drink is significantly larger than America’s. In early 1997, the Beijing Technology Supervision Bureau listed one liter (nearly 34 ounces) as a standard serving size for beer. That’s about 40 grams of ethanol per drink, almost triple the standard 14 grams in America. If you're playing jiuling while in China, you probably won't be concerned with standard sizes.

France

France

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France complies with the World Health Organization’s standard drink size guidelines. When you’re in France, you’ll find that one drink contains 10 grams of ethanol.

Click to see why one French restaurant has banned bankers but welcomes dogs.

Germany

Germany

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Thinking about drinking in Germany inspires images of lederhosen, waitresses carrying trays full of giant mugs, and long, crowded tables of happy beer-drinkers. Oktoberfest doesn’t last all year, but the German standard drink size of 10 grams of ethanol does. While this is slightly less than American standards, German men and women are allowed the same daily dose of alcohol (two drinks for men and one for women) as Americans. Unlike Americans, however, German citizens are encouraged to take two alcohol-free days per week.

Want to feel like you’re in a German-style beer garden without leaving the country? You may want to take a trip to San Francisco.

Ireland

Ireland

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The American image of Irish drinking culture is, admittedly, fueled by stereotypes and perhaps a few too many Guinnesses. In reality, the standard Irish drink contains the World Health Organization’s suggested 10 grams of ethanol. This doesn’t matter much, though, as Ireland’s Your Drinking says that Irish women can have 11 standard drinks per week while men can have up to 17. That’s four more drinks per week for the lasses and three more for the lads of Ireland than those of us in America.

Italy

Italy

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Reducing Alcohol Related Harm lists a standard Italian drink as one which contains 12 grams of ethanol.

Click to find out what happened when Italy’s Chianti Vineyards Were Under Attack by Wild Boars.

Looking for a classic Italian cocktail? Try Antica Pesa’s Classic Negroni.

Japan

Japan

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Like China, Japan’s standard drink is significantly higher than the American norm. A standard Japanese drink contains 19.75 grams of ethanol, according to the International Center for Alcohol Policies. This translates to standard drink sizes that are just slightly smaller than the ones listed for Austria.

Russia

Russia

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A 2011 piece in The Moscow Times on Russian alcohol consumption reveals some interesting information, albeit a bit dated. “Every week, the average drinking Russian man downs 13 bottles of beer and more than two bottles of vodka,” it says. “That’s the average. Week in, week out, two bottles of vodka and 13 bottles of beer for every drinking man across Russia. Or think of it this way: almost a third of a bottle of vodka and two beers every single day.”

The bottles of vodka mentioned contain one-half liter (or roughly 17 ounces) of booze. This vodka is 80-proof (40 percent ABV), the same proof standard American drinks are measured by. If there are 14 grams of ethanol in 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, then Russian men are drinking 317 grams of pure alcohol weekly (45 grams daily) without factoring in the alcohol contained in those 13 bottles of beer. If an American man were to drink both of his standard drinks seven out of seven days during the week, he’d consume 196 grams of ethanol in one week (28 grams daily).

See where Russia ranks on our list of the 10 Countries With the Biggest Drinking Problems.

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

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Recently, the United Kingdom’s chief medical officers implemented a new set of alcohol guidelines stating that men shouldn’t consume any more than five pints of beer (five percent ABV) per week. One standard drink contains eight grams of alcohol in the United Kingdom, which is significantly smaller than the 14 ounces in an American drink. Even with its smaller serving size, the fact that Burger King Is Selling Beer With Its Burgers in the UK suggests that alcohol consumption is much more casual there.