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How Strong Is My Cocktail?

by Editorial Team January 2nd, 2014 | Ask the Bartender
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sparkling drink Marja Flick-BuijsI’m familiar with the conversion “1 shot of liquor = 1 glass of beer = 1 glass of wine”.  However, I prefer to drink cocktails.  When they have more than one liquor and the liquors have varying proofs, how can I determine the strength of my drink?

This is a question which I’m hoping many people have pondered.  Unfortunately, I think too many people simply consider how tasty the multi-ingredient cocktail is and don’t consider its effects until it is too late.

First, you need to know what ingredients are in your cocktail, whether you or a bartender is making it.  You also need to know the amount of each ingredient in your drink.  While it may be handy to know if there is soda or juice added for calorie purposes, the non-alcoholic ingredients do not matter when calculating the strength of a drink.  (No, adding such beverages will not weaken the drink or make it less potent.)

Second, you can consult this handy cocktail content calculator to determine how strong your drink is.  Rather than spending time creating mathematical formulas to determine the amount of alcohol you’ll be consuming, you simply enter the type, strength, and amount of alcoholic and non-alcoholic ingredients.  You then are shown how many drinks this one cocktail is actually equal to.

Obviously, you won’t be using this calculator to check each cocktail you order or make, but after using it a few times, you probably will have a better understanding of cocktail strength.  Hopefully, this will help you determine whether to order that cocktail or not, and if you do, whether you should have more than one.

Editor’s note: The cocktail content calculator is provided by the National Institute of Health. 

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