How To Calculate The Alcohol Content In Cocktails

Keeping track of how much alcohol you are drinking can be a bit tricky when you are out and about having a good time. Pubs and clubs have measured serves which makes things a bit easier, but what about home made cocktails like the recipes we regularly supply our readers?

A good rule of thumb is that the body absorbs 7-12 ml of alcohol per hour. A standard drink in Australia is considered to be 10 gms or about 12.5mls of alcohol. So, depending on various factors a standard drink per hour should keep you relatively sober. Please be aware though, that the more alcohol you consume the harder it is for your body to absorb. The first drink you have should be absorbed into your body in about an hour, but the second will take longer. It’s all science related and not an exact science at that!

Now, the type of factors which affect alcohol absorption include the following:

  • How fast you drink
  • The amount of food in your stomach
  • Your weight
  • Amount of fat or muscle your body consists of
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Other medications and drugs in your body
  • Other chemicals in the drink. eg: Jäger Bombs
  • Foods consumed
  • Your drinking history and tolerance
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Current emotional state

With all these variables it’s impossible to know how the alcohol is reacting within your body. Cocktails can be especially tricky, particularly if they are created without a measure. They also consist of a mixture and some have chemical ingredients like caffeine. Since caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, the two can have different side effects. This is what makes them so potent and care should be taken when consuming them. The caffeine itself doesn’t have an alcohol content, but it can affect the alcohol being consumed.

Having gotten through that, I’ll fill you in on an easy way to work out how much alcohol you’re consuming in your cocktails as well as giving you a couple of easy examples to follow.

First look at the percentage of alcohol on the bottle used to make the cocktail. Most have at least 1 regular spirit which is usually 40% alcohol. Next, you need the serving size of the alcohol only, not the serving size of the entire drink. A full nip is usually 30 ml so multiply this with the alcohol percentage. Remember when you multiply a percentage it is not a whole number so you multiply the serving size by the decimal point (0.4). To work out the standard drink size, divide it by the Australian standard of 12.5 ml. Viola!

Here’s a couple of examples:

  • Full nip (30ml) of 40% alcohol bourbon = 30 x 0.40 = 12.00ml alcohol
    12.00ml / 12.50ml = 0.96 standard drinks.
  • 150ml glass of 11.5% alcohol wine = 180 x 0.115 = 17.25ml alcohol
    17.25ml/12.50ml = 1.38 standard drinks

You can use this formula to work out the alcohol content in every drink you consume. The final thing I want to mention which will help you with all this is the oz to ml conversion. You don’t need exact figures so, if you remember 1 oz = 30 ml, you’ll be right!

Now you have all the tools you need to keep track of how much alcohol you are consuming in your cocktails. A final tip is to do calculations before you start drinking for obvious reasons.


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The Harmful Effects Of Alcohol On Your Unborn Baby

Before you reach for that glass of wine or cold beer when you’re pregnant, perhaps think again at what you’re actually doing to your baby.  Everything that you eat or drink goes through your bloodstream and into the placenta which means that when you indulge in a wine your baby will be having a drink too.  The alcohol can then interfere with your baby’s ability to get enough oxygen and nourishment for normal cell development and there has been plenty of research to show that mothers who drink during pregnancy can cause their unborn baby serious harm.  Although it’s not known exactly how much alcohol can affect an unborn baby the safest and recommended option is to drink nothing at all.

Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, otherwise known as FASD, is a term to describe a group of conditions that can occur when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol during pregnancy.  These conditions are not temporary – they are permanent and can affect your child for the rest of their life.  Frequent weekly drinking or binge drinking during pregnancy can greatly increase the chances of your baby developing a serious condition but women who drank very little have also been linked to FASD.

So here is a list of some of the potential problems that your newborn could face if you’ve been drinking throughout your pregnancy:

  • Kidney and urinary defects
  • Heart defects or murmurs
  • Organ abnormalities
  • Mental retardation
  • Learning disabilities
  • Short attention span
  • Irritability in infancy
  • Poor hand eye coordination
  • Small head
  • Small birth weight
  • Near-sightedness
  • Slow development
  • Limited joint movement
  • Facial abnormalities
  • Poorly formed ears
  • Genital abnormalities

This list of potential problems paints a very scary picture of what life could be like for you and your baby in the future so reconsider that drink next time you’re tempted.  Nine months might seem like a long time in the beginning but wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry?

If you think you might have a problem giving up alcohol for the duration of your pregnancy then speak with your doctor or call an alcohol helpline for a confidential chat.

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