Searches like ‘What is a nip?,’ ‘How much is a pour for alcohol?’ and ‘What is a Standard drink?’ consistently appear in the Top 10 list for Alcohol&Me so we’ve pulled together this simple guide to help you understand what they each mean.

What is a Nip?

According to the Collins dictionary, a Nip is a small amount of a strong alcoholic drink but in everyday Kiwi terms, a nip refers to that small, funny looking metal or plastic spout that you may have seen on the top of a bottle of spirits in your local pub or in your grandparents cupboard. It’s designed to measure out exactly 15mLs of alcohol at a time therefore a Nip is 15mLs of alcohol. In NZ, most spirits (e.g. a Gin & Tonic, Vodka & Soda, Rum & Coke) are sold as a double unless you are told otherwise. This means they will be a two nip pours or 30mLs of spirit or liqueur. Originally introduced as a tool for publicans to make sure their bar staff weren’t being heavy handed on their pours, nips are not as common these days with most establishments instead using jiggers or other measures (see below).

What is a measure?

Like standard pours (see below) measures will change depending on a number of factors including the country you are in, the size of the glasses and in the case of mixed drinks, the recipe being followed which means there is no single answer to this question.


The most common measure for an alcoholic beverage is mLs or millilitres. In NZ most packaged beers and ciders are 330mLs (approx. 1-1.5 std drinks) in size but if you are drinking tap beer, they can range from 250mL to over 500mL (approx. 2 std drinks) depending on the glassware. For wine, typical NZ bottles are 750mLs (approx. 7.1-7.5 std drinks) but if you are buying by the glass, they can range from 125mL to approx. 220mLs (2.2 std drinks). When it comes to mixed drinks, cocktail jiggers or measuring cups like the silver ones seen on the bar in this image are common tools that help with these free pour measures. They typically have a larger( 30mL/ 1 std drink) and a smaller (15mL) end with fill lines so bartenders can easily see exactly what they are pouring.

What is a standard pour?

In NZ, there is no such thing as a standard pour so again there is no simple answer to this question. Every outlet has its own shapes and sizes of glassware so don’t be fooled. For instance, here in NZ, a pint of beer or cider typically refers to the biggest glass available whereas in the UK a Pint must be 560mL and in the US it is approximately 470mL.


If you are drinking at home, a standard pour of wine for you might be a full glass, which is likely to be 250mL (2.5 std drinks). At a bar or restaurant in NZ, a standard pour will typically be 150mLs (1.5 std drinks) so they can get 5 perfect serves out of a 750mL bottle of wine without any waste.

As mentioned above spirits in NZ are typically sold as Doubles (30mLs/ 1 std drink) unless you ask otherwise but there are plenty of cocktails and other mixed drinks that would have considerably more than this and it will differ from bar to bar so check with the Bartender if you have concerns.

What is a standard drink?

This is an easy one – a standard drink is a drink that contains 10g of pure alcohol and this is the maximum amount of alcohol a healthy adult liver can process in 1 hour. Standard drinks are the only fool proof way to know exactly how much alcohol you are consuming. Because alcoholic drinks come in different strengths and sizes, Standard Drinks are the easiest way to tell how strong your drink is, and can also help you to make comparisons between your drink choices.

You can find out everything you need to know about Standard Drinks here or check out our Standard Drinks calculator on you next night out. Remember, if you drink faster than 1 standard drink per hour your body and mind will be affected so think before you drink!

As you can see, these common alcohol related terms are all quite different and they are definitely not interchangeable for each other. If you want to drink smarter the best number to commit to memory is Standard Drinks. Knowing how many standard drinks you have had and that it will take your body 1 hours to process each of those standards, means you’re well equipped to make the drinking choices that are right for you. #youdrinkyou


Alcohol&Me Team