Alcohol Basics

Giant Cups

This picture is from an actual college tailgate party. The members of this fraternity (not from Northeastern) had been getting into trouble for not following the chapter's alcohol policy, so they promised they would all obey a "one drink limit" at the event. Despite what these guys tried to pass off as one drink, a drink is not what will fit in any random container.

So what is a 'drink'?

A drink is a standardized serving of alcohol, it's what the average person's body can process in an hour.  This doesn't mean if someone has a drink an hour later they will be 100% sober, but this is considered the pace at which your body can handle alcohol. In any standard drink, there is the exact same amount of alcohol, the only difference between them is the concentration and how much other liquid is present.

1 Standard Drink =  12 oz beer (3-5% alcohol by volume/ABV)

8-10 oz malt liquor (6-10% ABV)

Examples: Smirnoff Ice, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, etc.

4-5 oz wine or champagne (9-16% ABV)
1.5 oz 80 proof liquor (40% ABV)
1 oz 100 proof liquor (50% ABV)
.5 oz Bacardi 151 (75.5% ABV)

1 tsp Everclear/Grain Alcohol (95.5% ABV) For comparison: most rubbing alcohols are 70-80% ABV!

??? 'Jungle Juice'/'Trash Can Punch'

Since there isn't a recipe for Jungle Juice, there's no way to know what a standard serving is. One night a cup-full could have two standard servings, another night it could have five. Our recommendation is to avoid this mystery mix (plus, how clean could it be if it's served in a trash barrel?!)

If you're drinking from a solo or 'party' cup, looks can be deceiving.

A standard solo cup holds 18 ounces, or: 1.5 servings of beer
2 servings of malt liquor
4 servings of wine
12 servings of 80 proof liquor!

Here's what a standard drink looks like in a regular solo cup:

Red Solo Cup

Why do we tell you this?

Have you ever had one or two drinks and ended up drunk but don't know why? Were you drinking out of a solo cup? Now that you know what a standard drink looks like in a solo cup, you can understand that there was likely a lot more than one drink in there! If you choose to drink, keep these markers in mind next time and know what you're getting when you fill a solo cup. You can easily monitor how much you're getting and avoid some of the negative consequences of alcohol. If you want to know more about how to avoid these negative outcomes, take a look at the Green Zone section of Alcohol and Drugs 101.


For more information, check out our alcohol brochure.