alcoholic units

Last edited 10/2019

These are measures related to the alcoholic content of different drinks. A unit of alcohol is 10ml of pure ethanol - that is, near enough 8g of alcohol (equivalent to 10 mL of pure ethanol) (1).

Calculating units of alcohol:

  • alcohol by volume or ABV is used to measure the amount of  pure alcohol as a percentage of the total volume of liquid in a drink
  • number of units in a drink = total volume of a drink ( in milllitres) x ABV (%)/  1000
  • units calculator to find out how many units there are in a single drink or in a number of drinks is available at
  • the amount of units will vary based on different preparations of beer/lager. Some additional information regarding units of alcohol with respect to different beverages is presented below (2):
    • a pint of ordinary strength lager (Carling Black Label, Fosters) - 2 units
    • a pint of strong lager (Stella Artois, Kronenbourg 1664) - 3 units
    • a pint of ordinary bitter (John Smith's, Boddingtons) - 2 units
    • a pint of best bitter (Fuller's ESB, Young's Special) - 3 units
    • cider
      • a pint of ordinary strength cider (Woodpecker) - 2 units
      • a pint of strong cider (Dry Blackthorn, Strongbow) - 3 units
    • one small (125 ml) glass of wine at 9% is one unit - however a 175ml glass of red or white wine is around 2 units
    • an alcopop (eg Smirnoff Ice, Bacardi Breezer, WKD, Reef) - around 1.5 units
    • one small sherry 1 unit
    • one measure of spirit 1 unit
    • one bottle of vodka 32 units
  • today the labels of many bottled drinks will tell you how many units of alcohol are in the bottle

Emphasising relationship between %ABV and volume of alcohol consumed (3):