I’ve been meaning to have a serious talk with you for a while. Now, I am unapologetically pro drink. But what I’m not is pro drunk. I love to have a drink or two over a meal, while hanging out with friends or at my favorite bar. But know this—you can have all that fun without getting sloppy. Sloppy brings on rough next-days, bad decisions and regret. Who has time for all that?
As long as you’re over 21 and not pregnant, not taking medications that may do damage if mixed with alcohol, not about to get behind the wheel of a vehicle or operate heavy machinery, a drink can’t do much harm and, in fact, may do some good. Studies show that three to five drinks a week actually lowers your risk of heart failure by 33%.
But here’s the thing: The research shows that drinking in moderation is beneficial. That phrase “in moderation” is key. Now, we’ve all heard and read that red wine contains procyanidins that are known to protective against heart disease. But really, girl, who do you think you’re fooling with all that wellness talk as you down glass after glass of merlot at book club?
The USDA’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states, “If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men…”
Let’s break that down: When researchers talk about one drink, they mean a standard measure. That’s 12 ounces of beer (at 5% alcohol by volume, or ABV), 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or 5 ounces of wine (at 12% ABV). This standard delivers the same amount of alcohol (0.6 fluid ounces) across all three types of drinks.
It’s also worth considering that 1 in 4 beers launched globally in 2014 had an ABV of 6.5% or higher, notes Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, who notes that wines have also gotten a boost in alcohol content (averaging 13.5%) of late. That means a 12 ounce glass of beer that is 7% alcohol is the equivalent of 1.4 glasses, a 5 ounce glass of 17% ABV wine is equal to 1.3 glasses and, similarly, any distilled spirit that is higher than 80 proof will be the equal of more than a standard serving.
Now I’m willing to bet that what most folks consider to be a serving is way more than that. Don’t believe me? Do a quick check with your favorite wine or beer glass. Grab a measuring cup and fill it with 5 ounces of your wine of choice. Now pour that into your favorite glass. If that’s got you side-eyeing the pour like you’re getting shortchanged at the bar, then you’ve grown accustomed to sipping on a bigger than standard pour. Now multiply that by the number of glasses you enjoyed your last sipping session.
No one’s judging. This is just a reminder that keeping track of how much we’ve consumed can be tricky. That means not only knowing your limits but also being aware of how much you’ve consumed. To help you out, Zelman offers the following tips:
- Do rest your glass on a flat surface when pouring a drink. Trying to eyeball how much is in your highball glass while holding it up at eye level often results in less-than-accurate measurements. “A study found that people poured 12% more wine when holding the glass,” she says.
- Don’t let your glass be refilled until it’s empty. Sure, we all love those brunch spots that serve the bottomless mimosas where the servers keep topping up your flute but really, there’s no way to keep track of exactly how many glasses you’ve had. Instead, set your intention from the start to have one glass, and then a glass of water, before doubling (tripling/quadrupling) up on the booze.
- Do be particularly careful if your glassware leans more towards the big, wide globes. Taller, more narrow glasses help people drink less as they tend to
- Don’t forget that beer, spirits and wine can contain more alcohol than you bargained for. Ask about the ABV of your drink of choice and size your portion accordingly.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I’m on the wagon. I just really wanted you to know that it’s possible to enjoy a drink and not get wrecked—and wreck your night, your next morning or your health in the process. Drink smarter, not harder is the motto at theLUSHiouslife. In fact, the new trend towards lo-alcohol cocktails is perfect for these times. You can enjoy a full flavor experience, with little danger of overdoing it—and you won’t miss the alcohol at all. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this beauty
Link Ray, created by Jim Kearns, head bartender and partner at Slowly Shirley in NYC.
¾ oz. lime
½ oz. cane
2 oz. celery
½ Suze bitters
1 oz Jalepeno infused tequila
Stir, pour into a Collins glass, add celery salt to half the lip, garnish with a celery top and pepper.
At just 115 calories, this cocktail is one you can enjoy guilt-free.