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What is the pour line?

3 min read

What is the pour line?

Two out of three people believe the pour line on a glass you see in restaurants and bars is equal to 1 standard drink. Is that you?

The pour line (or plimsoll line) is often misunderstood. It is used to pour a single serving which varies from restaurant to restaurant. It’s not uncommon for it to be as much as 1.5x or 2x a legal standard drink volume. Confused?

So let's demystify this. 

The Standard Drink Company - Myths


Good ol' Vino

Often restaurants pour 150mL for a serving of wine. To help the server be consistent, a pour line at this volume is applied to the glass. However, this is not regulated and it is up to restaurants to determine how much they serve in a glass, and studies have shown it can vary widely. So how does this relate to recommended alcohol consumption, measured in standard drinks*?

  • Well if you are enjoying a glass of white wine, sparking wine or rose, they often have 10-11% alcohol, which means roughly 125mL will make up one standard drink.
  • Red wines and richer wines like pinots, merlots often have 13-14% alcohol, which means roughly 100mL will make up one standard drink. 
  • For fortified wines, desert wines, ports etc, often contain 18-20% alcohol, which means roughly 70mL will make up one standard drink. 

Just a heads up, it is quite common for restaurants in the top end of town (i.e. lots of hats) to serve 100mL. You will need to observe closely on the menu, as it is difficult to tell based on looking at the glass. When this happens you have to re-calibrate your estimates of the number of standard drinks again.

The Standard Drink Company Glasses

What about spirits you ask?

Well, vodka, gin, bourbon, whiskey are typically 35-40% alcohol, which means roughly 30mL or one shot is equal to one standard drink. As the alcohol content is rarely marked on the menu you cannot be confident how many standard drinks you have consumed. Particularly if you are enjoying a cocktail, there is no requirement to give an exact shot of each spirit that made up the delicious concoction you are consuming. Shame.

Fortunately for beers

Beer served from tap is regulated and you can be confident you are getting exactly the same serving volumes provided you stay in the same state. Oh, did I forget to mention that each state have slightly different serving sizes? But I digress. If you can find out the alcohol percentage of the beer, you can do some mental gymnastics to calculate the number of standard drinks in your cold one.

But really, when we are out enjoying a glass with friends or after work drinks with colleagues, the last thing on our minds is standard drink arithmetics. 

Pour a standard drink with The Standard Drink Company glassware

So join the movement to mainstream standard drink serving sizes in restaurants and bars. Imagine a day when you can order a glass by one or two standard drinks. Every movement begins at home. Switch to The Standard Drink Company drinkware and never be in doubt again whether you poured one, two or three standard drinks. The multi-plimsoll line standard drink pour system helps you pour a standard drink regardless of the type of alcohol. Drinking mindfully and on your terms, has never been easier. With a standard drink in every glass, it certainly takes the thinking out of drinking. Cheers to that! 


Click to learn how our glassware help you pour a standard drink: 

The Standard Drink Co Multi Pour Line System



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