The amount of alcohol in a drink is measured by units. One unit is 10ml or 8g of pure
alcohol; this is roughly the amount of alcohol that an average adult can process within
‘ABV’ which stands for alcohol by volume informs you of how much pure alcohol is contained
within a drink, some alcohol beverages may use the word ‘vol’ instead. For example, a wine
bottle that says it has 14% ‘ABV’ or ‘vol’ will contain 14% of pure alcohol.
The government has advised that people should not regularly drink more than the daily unit
guidelines which are 3–4 units of alcohol for men and 2-3 units of alcohol for women.
‘Regularly’ means drinking every day or most days of the week. It has also been suggested
if you have part taken in a heavy drinking session you should take a break for at least
Drinks poured at home are quite often more generous than those you are given in a pub. Why
not use a measuring jug to work out just how much alcohol you are actually pouring.
You can work out how many units there are in any drink by multiplying the total volume of a drink (in ml) by its
ABV (which is measured as a percentage) and dividing the result by 1,000.
- Strength (ABV) x Volume (ml) ÷ 1,000 = units.
For example, to work out the number of units in a pint (568ml) of strong lager with an ABV of 5.2%:
- 5.2 (%) x 568 (ml) ÷ 1,000 = 2.95 units.
There is one unit of alcohol in:
- Half pint (284 ml) of ordinary strength lager, beer or cider (3.5% ABV).
- A very small (125 ml) glass of wine (8% ABV).
- A pub measure (50 ml) of fortified wine such as sherry (20% ABV).
- A single pub measure (25 ml) of spirits - gin, whisky, rum, vodka (40% ABV).
Can you work out how many units are in:
- One litre (1000 ml) of spirits at 40% ABV.
- One standard size bottle of wine (750 ml) at 12 % ABV.
- One 500 ml can of super strength lager at 9% ABV.
- One 330 ml bottle of lager at 6% ABV.
For more information see:
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"There are no safe drinking guidelines for young people (under 18)"