# Alcohol Amount in Cocktails

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I have the choice between 2 drinks:

1 12oz can of a pre-made cocktail which is 5% alcohol by volume

1 drink that is 3oz of vodka (45% alcohol by volume) and 12oz of seltzer (0% alcohol by volume)

Which contains more alcohol by volume? Which contains more alcohol in total? Also, if you could show your work that would be great as a resource for the future when trying to see how much is in a drink. I have a low tolerance, so I like to know how much I’m drinking when in social situations.

In: 0

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This sounds too much like a homework problem. I will definitely not provide any work because of this.

You know the percentage of alcohol by volume and the volume of each drink. Calculating the alcohol content is therefore trivial.

This sounds too much like a homework problem. I will definitely not provide any work because of this.

You know the percentage of alcohol by volume and the volume of each drink. Calculating the alcohol content is therefore trivial.

This sounds too much like a homework problem. I will definitely not provide any work because of this.

You know the percentage of alcohol by volume and the volume of each drink. Calculating the alcohol content is therefore trivial.

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Your 12oz can is 5% (0.05) x 12 oz = 0.6 oz alcohol. Which is convenient, because a “standard drink” is generally considered to be about 0.6 ounces of alcohol.

Your 3 oz of vodka is 45% (0.45) x 3 oz = 1.35 oz alcohol. Which is slightly over 2 standard drinks. This tracks, because we generally consider a single shot to be about 1.5oz of 40% (80proof) liquor – you’re having a double vodka, and the vodka is slightly stronger than normal.

And of course, your 12oz seltzer has 0 alcohol.

In general, the math to keep in mind is that a 12 ounce, 5% beer is a standard drink. 5 ounces of wine at 12% is a standard drink. And 1.5 ounces of 40% liquor is one standard drink. And those are pretty typical serving sizes – 12 ounces is a standard can, 5 ounces is a standard wine pour, and 1.5 ounces is a standard shot.

Obviously not all alcohol sticks to these levels, but most stick fairly close. Wine only varies by a few percent (unless you get into fortified or dessert wines), and liquor tends to be in the 40-50% range (again, unless you go into the non-standard stuff like Everclear), which is still pretty easy to estimate. Beer, of course, varies by quite a bit – light beers can be half the alcohol of a standard, and high-alcohol craft beers can easily be double. But you can always estimate relative to that 5% standard.

Let’s say I’m having a pint of strong, 11% craft beer. I know that 11% is more than double 5%, and I know that a pint is 16 ounces instead of the standard 12oz can. Even without actually doing the math, I can easily guess I’m having somewhere between 2.5 and 3 standard drinks – and if I do the math ([0.11 (abv)*16 oz] divided by 0.6 for my standard drink), I know it’s actually 2.93 standard drinks – fairly close to 3. By keeping an eye on things relative to my standard drink measurement (and knowing my own limits very well!), I can keep an eye on my intake and know when I should slow down or cut myself off.

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Your 12oz can is 5% (0.05) x 12 oz = 0.6 oz alcohol. Which is convenient, because a “standard drink” is generally considered to be about 0.6 ounces of alcohol.

Your 3 oz of vodka is 45% (0.45) x 3 oz = 1.35 oz alcohol. Which is slightly over 2 standard drinks. This tracks, because we generally consider a single shot to be about 1.5oz of 40% (80proof) liquor – you’re having a double vodka, and the vodka is slightly stronger than normal.

And of course, your 12oz seltzer has 0 alcohol.

In general, the math to keep in mind is that a 12 ounce, 5% beer is a standard drink. 5 ounces of wine at 12% is a standard drink. And 1.5 ounces of 40% liquor is one standard drink. And those are pretty typical serving sizes – 12 ounces is a standard can, 5 ounces is a standard wine pour, and 1.5 ounces is a standard shot.

Obviously not all alcohol sticks to these levels, but most stick fairly close. Wine only varies by a few percent (unless you get into fortified or dessert wines), and liquor tends to be in the 40-50% range (again, unless you go into the non-standard stuff like Everclear), which is still pretty easy to estimate. Beer, of course, varies by quite a bit – light beers can be half the alcohol of a standard, and high-alcohol craft beers can easily be double. But you can always estimate relative to that 5% standard.

Let’s say I’m having a pint of strong, 11% craft beer. I know that 11% is more than double 5%, and I know that a pint is 16 ounces instead of the standard 12oz can. Even without actually doing the math, I can easily guess I’m having somewhere between 2.5 and 3 standard drinks – and if I do the math ([0.11 (abv)*16 oz] divided by 0.6 for my standard drink), I know it’s actually 2.93 standard drinks – fairly close to 3. By keeping an eye on things relative to my standard drink measurement (and knowing my own limits very well!), I can keep an eye on my intake and know when I should slow down or cut myself off.