The Easiest Way to Calculate Your Cocktail’s ABV

The Easiest Way to Calculate Your Cocktail’s ABV

Most years, at least a couple of my friends participate in Dry January. The last few years have not been like most years. I don’t know a single person (who wasn’t already sober) who is abstaining from alcohol completely this month, but I do know a few who are trying to drink less, or at least drink more thoughtfully.

Drinks are drinks, and low- and no-proof beverages deserve the same amount of care, respect, and menu real estate as martinis. To encourage a more holistic approach to drinking, Portland bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler has created a handy calculator to help bartenders and patrons figure out the ABV of their cocktail, and be more intentional about the volume of alcohol they’re consuming:

I’m sure this has been done by others before, but I’m making a big push for a new sort of cocktail menu this year: a menu where the alcohol-by-volume is listed alongside the ingredient list and price. As thoughtful drinkers, how awesome would it be to be able to make informed choices throughout our time in the bar? And as bartenders, how awesome would it be to really know how much alcohol our guests have consumed, and make thoughtful choices about how our drinks are impacting them and everyone around them?

The calculator is actually a downloadable spreadsheet, and it’s quite elegant. Every time I have written “proficient in Excel” on a résumé (or curriculum vitae), it has been a lie, and yet even I am able to work this one. (OK, I did email Jeff a very stupid spreadsheet question, but I can’t be good at everything! It wouldn’t be fair!)

Screenshot: Joel Cunningham
Screenshot: Joel Cunningham

You can download the spreadsheet here, then plug in and play with your ABVs and pour volumes. There are eight pre-loaded cocktails, but you can change the values/ingredients as you see fit. (There’s even a spot to account for “dilution percentage,” which factors in ice melt-age from shaking, stirring, or building your drink right in the glass.) Play around with it, and you might be surprised by how potent your favourite potable really is. Like, I knew martinis were stiff, but I didn’t know they were “over four times the ABV of an Aperol Spritz” stiff.

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