How strong is that drink? Calculator helps figure
How strong is that piña colada? Depending on how it's made, it could contain as much alcohol as two glasses of wine.
The National Institutes of Health is trying to spread the word: Take a look at its online alcohol calculator to see how much you're really drinking with those summer cocktails.
A “standard drink” is the amount of alcohol in a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. It's a useful way to track alcohol consumption. But the multiple ingredients of mixed drinks make for a harder count.
“Most people don't realize how much alcohol is actually in a drink,” said Dr. George Koob, director of the NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
“Obviously, it depends on the bartender and who's mixing the drinks,” Koob adds.
Recipes matter: The calculator's piña colada example, for instance, assumes it contains 3 ounces of rum. Plan on using 2 ounces instead? The calculator adjusts to show it's like 1.3 standard drinks.
What about a margarita? The calculator concludes it's the equivalent of 1.7 standard drinks, if made with 1.5 ounces of tequila, an ounce of orange liqueur and half an ounce of lime juice.
A mojito? 1.3 standard drinks. A martini, extra dry? 1.4 standard drinks.
Other favorites? Type them in: rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/ToolsResources/CocktailCalculator.asp
Beyond beverage choice, Koob, who specializes in the neurobiology of alcohol, has some tips:
Heat increases thirst, but alcohol is a diuretic, Koob notes. So, in addition to the usual advice to pace yourself — no more than one standard drink an hour — Koob says to stay hydrated by alternating some water or club soda with the alcohol.
Women's bodies react differently to alcohol, and not just because they tend to weigh less than men. They don't metabolize alcohol as quickly, and their bodies contain less water. On average, it takes one fewer drink for a woman to become intoxicated than a man of the same weight, Koob says. The NIAAA's definition of low-risk drinking for women is no more than seven drinks a week and no more than three drinks on any single day, while for men, the limit is no more than 14 drinks a week and no more than four drinks on any single day.
Beyond drinking and driving
Alcohol also doesn't mix with boating, or swimming and diving, Koob warns. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol use is involved in up to 70 percent of adult and adolescent deaths associated with water recreation.
Holding your alcohol
What determines why one drink is plenty for one person while another routinely downs two or three? Genes play a big role. So does getting used to drinking a certain amount. That tolerance is a balancing act, Koob says. He cites research showing the person who can drink others under the table is at higher risk for alcohol problems later in life than is someone more sensitive to its effects.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.