Most adult New Zealanders enjoy a drink, but few know how much their body can actually handle. Research shows that the vast majority of New Zealanders aren’t as smart as they think when it comes to drinking alcohol, so we’ve pulled together our Top 3 Tips to help you drink smarter and become one of the enlightened few.

We are not like robots. We are all different and that means we need to make our own informed choices about if, when and how we consume alcohol. While the liver is primarily responsible for processing the alcohol we drink (click here and here if you want to know more), it needs to be supported by the rest of the body to do its job and that is why we all feel the effects of alcohol differently. Because we’re all different, you need to think about how many drinks it takes before you start to feel impacted by what you’re drinking.

A pretty good indicator that you’re drinking more than your body can handle, is when you start saying or doing things you wouldn’t normally do, so here are some top tips for drinking smarter in 2020 and beyond:



Get to know what a standard drink looks like for your favourite tipple – spoiler alert …’s not always one bottle or glass. Why is this important?  Well a healthy adult liver can only process 1 standard drink (10gms of pure alcohol) per hour and there is no way to speed this process up. Here is a quick Standard Drinks guide to give you an idea of how much you’re really drinking but you might also like to check out our Standard Drink Calculator:

  • 100mls 12-14% wine = 1 Standard drink
  • 255mls of 5% beer or cider = 1 Standard drinks
  • 30mls spirit = 1 Standard drink
  • 180ml 7% RTD = 1 Standard drink

That is why experts say “one an hour” is a good rule of thumb for most adult drinkers. It’s made even easier by the fact that every bottle of alcohol sold in NZ must have the number of standard drinks printed on the label, so if you have a can or bottle in your hand, you have the key info you need to make a smarter drinking choice, right at your fingertips!


This information is telling you how long it is going to take your body to process (or metabolize if you want the technical term) the alcohol in that bottle or can. So, if the label on your bottle of beer says 1.3 standard drinks, that means it will take you 1.3 hours to process the alcohol in that one bottle. A bottle of Sav Blanc at a BYO dinner will be more like 7.4 hours if you drink it alone! Food for thought isn’t it?


Knowing what a standard drink is and that your body can only process 1 standard drink per hour is the key to smarter drinking, so think before you drink!


The number 1 tip here is don’t drink too fast, so your body has time to process each drink. Remember, the adult liver can only process one standard drink (10gms of pure alcohol) per hour and the more you drink, the more your body and mind will be affected.  Don’t try to keep up with other people – be yourself and drink at your own pace.


Take a moment now to think about what a reasonable pace is for you to drink at, so you can stay in the zone and last the distance in style. How often do you drink at this pace? How might you be able to do it more often?

Remember – how your day starts tomorrow depends on how tonight ends, so keep count of your drinks and be aware of your glass being topped up – this is a sure-fire way to wake up with a sore head in the morning!

Our next hot tip here is to make smarter drink choices. There are plenty of drinks you can choose to help slow down your alcohol intake. The most obvious of these is a regular glass of water or non-alcoholic drink, but even a Light beer (1%-3% ABV) or wine (8%- 9.5% ABV) is going to be better for you than the full-strength equivalent. They look exactly the same in the glass or bottle, but your body will thank you for it tomorrow. If you want something a bit more exciting – check out our awesome drink suggestions here, here, and here – they’re are all less than 1 standard drink a pop!


This is where you think about how you can space your drinks out to make sure you remember the occasion for all the right reasons. Eating is a great way to do this as it slows your drinking pace and helps your body to absorbs some of the excess alcohol while your liver catches up on the processing.

Other options might include a dance without a drink in your hand, a game of pool with a mate, or more water. If you want to be the host with the most at your next event, think about what activities you can set up to help make the occasion less about drinking and more about relaxed socialisation and fun.


At Alcohol&Me, we call this our SIZE, PACE, SPACE mantra and it’s a great thing to recite to yourself, before and during a drinking occasion to help keep yourself in check.

All in all, if you choose to drink, the best way to make the good times last when you’re socialising is to remember to eat well, keep count of your standard drinks, give your body time to process them and have plenty of water to pace yourself and stay hydrated.

Cheers to thinking before drinking!


Alcohol&Me Team