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AICR HealthTalk

Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: How big a glass of liqueur counts as one alcoholic drink?

A: The size that defines “one standard drink” is based on the concentration of alcohol and for liqueurs this can range from one-and-a-half to 3 ounces. For example, some of the anise- or fruit-flavored and sweetened whiskey-based liqueurs contain 40 percent alcohol. That corresponds to 80-proof, which is how you’ll see alcohol content listed on the label. A standard serving size for 80-proof spirits (vodka, gin and whiskey) or liqueurs is one-and-a-half ounces (the size of a “shot glass”). However, other liqueurs, including some of the chocolate, almond and coffee flavors, are lower in alcohol (50- to 60-proof), and liqueurs that contain cream are often about 34-proof. So for these liqueurs that are less concentrated in alcohol, two to three ounces would be considered a serving.

To help prevent cancer and promote overall good health, keep alcohol consumption to no more than one standard drink per day for women, and no more than two for men. If liqueurs are your choice of alcohol, remember that these high sugar drinks may add up to 150 to 240 calories per standard serving. A three-ounce serving of a cream-based liqueur usually contains about 300 calories, compared to about 100 calories in the unsweetened distilled liquors. Excess calories from any alcoholic beverage can lead to weight gain.

If you choose to drink any type of alcohol, keep in mind that large portions or excess servings can add up to both short-term weight control difficulty and a long-term cancer risk.

To read more about alcohol and cancer risk, see The Facts About Alcohol.


The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF).

Published on 02/09/2015

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