November 28, 2014
Four cocktails in assorted colors garnished with fruit
Ask the Experts

Alcohol in Cocktails

by Berkeley Wellness  |  

Cocktails in restaurants are usually very large. How do they compare to a standard serving of alcohol?

Cocktails have been supersized. While a drink of 80-proof liquor is defined as 1½ ounces—not much, just 3 tablespoons—a cocktail at a bar or restaurant usually contains considerably more. If a martini is 4 ounces, for example, that counts as almost three drinks.

It’s also easy to pour with a heavy hand at home. Use a measuring cup to see how big your normal portion is. You may be surprised.

Moderate alcohol intake is defined as no more than one drink a day for women, two for men. A standard drink is also 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine; all contain about the same amount of pure alcohol (0.6 ounces).

People who drink in moderation have a lower rate of heart disease, compared to teetotalers and heavier drinkers. But they also have an elevated risk of certain cancers (notably oral, esophageal, breast, liver and colon). One likely reason for the cancer risk: many people tell researchers that they are “light” or “moderate” drinkers but actually exceed the limits, partly because they underestimate and underreport how much they’re drinking.