Mojito cocktail on dark stone table. Top view with space for your text, Alcoholic drinks

Types of Alcoholic Drinks and their Alcohol Content

Have you ever wondered why some drinks lead to a drunker night than others? You know that liquor is stronger than beer, but isn’t a shot a shot no matter what alcohol you choose? As it turns out, that isn’t always true. Here’s the alcohol content of various types of drinks and how they can affect you. 

Varying ABV

ABV stands for “alcohol by volume” and determines how much of the substance is entering your body at once. The higher the ABV, the faster you get drunk. While there are several factors that go into the process of getting drunk, like tolerance or whether you ate prior, higher percentages will still induce a drunken state faster. 

It’s a common misconception that all liquor is roughly the same strength. While you can find plenty of bottles that share proofs and percentages, each type of alcoholic beverage can vary by how it is created. Here are the most common categories and their ABV:

  • Beer: 4-8%
  • Malt Beverage: 15%
  • Fortified Wine: 16-24%
  • Liqueurs: 15%
  • Whiskey: 36-50%
  • Tequila: 50-51%
  • Rum: 36-50%
  • Vodka: 40-95%
  • Gin: 36-50%

So, a 40% vodka isn’t going to get you as drunk per shot as a 50% tequila. However, choosing an 80% bottle of vodka will most certainly have you stumbling long before any tequila you could purchase. Gin and whiskey, on the other hand, can be relatively low percentagewise. Keeping these numbers in while drinking is the best way to ensure you can safely drive after, according to a DUI attorney in Boulder

Measuring by ABV

Those numbers are also how bars measure the amount of alcohol served. Beer from the tap comes in a twelve-ounce serving, often resting around 5% ABV. Wine comes in at 12% per every five ounces, and liquor retains the highest percentages even though you’re only getting one and a half ounces. Each shoot contains roughly 40% ABV before you head into higher content bottles. 


While the math is simple when sticking with one type of drink, things get complicated when you begin mixing alcohol. It isn’t uncommon to mix shots and beer or mix several types of liquor together in a mixed drink. However, these combinations are a fast track to a car accident when not handled responsibly. 

Calculating your percentage isn’t the easiest of mathematical equations, especially when you’re drinking, but there’s a formula you can follow to make things simpler. Keep in mind that percentages change depending on how hard the bartender shakes the drink, how much liquor they add, and how much non-alcoholic mixer they add. The formula is:

  • (Alcohol Content x Liquor Volume / Total Drink Volume) x 100 = ABV

That’s just for one cocktail, though. Measuring your blood alcohol concentration after shots and beer or wine is far more complicated. Instead of puzzling your brain with complex math problems, follow the rule of thumb. Don’t have any more than two drinks, no matter the type, in the span of an hour.