With how Many Tequilas do I Get Drunk? Responsible Intake

por Karina Sánchez Karina Sánchez | Jan 4, 2022 5:57:20 PM

How many tequilas to get drunk

In my 10 years of experience in the distilled beverage industry and my 5 years of experience as an Ambassador for the brand, I am often asked what is the amount of tequila that a human being can consume without getting drunk.

There are many myths around this issue and here are the answers that you've been looking for. To be able to talk about the amount of alcoholic beverages that a human can actually drink without getting drunk, we would have to start by defining some basic concepts and processes that would help us better understand the composition of alcoholic beverages and specially, tequila.

In order to formally measure how much alcohol we can drink, a Standard Drink unit has been established in Mexico. In this article, you will find out how this final measurement was calculted. Based on it, we now know that an adult man should not consume more than an ounce and a half of alcohol per hour and a woman an ounce per hour. We suggest that you to read the whole article so you know how was this amount of alcohol calculated.

How much Ethanol do alcoholic beverages have?

Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, is a colorless, strong smelling, volatile and flammable chemical compound. It is obtained by the distillation of fermented products of sugary or starchy mixes such as grapes, molasses, beet or potatoes. Beverages such as wine, beer and tequila -among others- contain ethanol.

Under normal pressure and temperature conditions, ethanol is a liquid that has a boiling point of 78.4 ° C and is miscible in water in any proportion. Its chemical formula is: CH3-CH2-OH (C6H6O). It is the main chemical compound of alcoholic beverages such as wine (13%), beer (5%), liquors (up to 50%) and tequilas (55%). It is important to mention that ethanol is the only alcohol suitable for human intake.

How is ethanol obtained in tequila?

Any elaboration process of an alcoholic drink, either distilled or fermented, starts with the growing and farming of the raw material that, depending on the drink, will be used. For example, wine comes from grapes, while vodka comes from potatoes, whiskey from grain distillates such as wheat, barley or corn, beer comes from barley and tequila from agave.

Each beverage is processed differently depending on the kind of drink we are trying to produce in the end, on their specific characteristics and profiles.


How is tequila produced?

tequila intake

In the case of tequila, the process begins with the selection of the Tequilana Weber blue variety agaves. Once this succulent plant has reached its ripening peak, which takes around 6 to 8 years to happen, they are harvested in order to process their sugars in the distillery.

The harvest of the agave is known as jima. During the jima, the agave leaves are cut and separated from the heart, known as pineapple. The agave pineapple fibers contain the starches that will later be turned into simple carbohydrates by means of a hydrolysis process and then, they will be fermented using yeasts.

The dead must, which is the result of the agave juice ferment, goes through a distillation process in distillation columns or stills. The musts are here brought to a boil in order to separate their more and less volatile components. The captured vapors are cooled and condensed, and the distillate is received in another container to continue its process.

Distillation plays a very important role in the processing of tequila, since it aims to concentrate the alcoholic part by eliminating the water and solid particles that come from the fermentation process. It also gets rid of those impurities and undesirable components that could be harmful to human health. According to the norm, tequila must be distilled twice in order to eliminate all kinds of impurities that can not be present in the drink.

Depending on the specific characteristics that we want our distilled beverage to have, the tequila will then go through different aging processes in "pipones" or barrels. Depending on the kind of wood they rest in and the amount of time they are left to rest, we will obtain different kinds of tequilas.

Lastly, the tequila goes through a filtration processes in order to remove unwanted aromas or dilutions, as well as to adjust the content of alcohol the tequila will have, according to the norms of the country to which it will be exported.

How are alcoholic beverages classified?

According to the Article 217 of the Mexican General Law of Health, an alcoholic beverage is considered as such when it has an ethyl alcohol content of 2% to 55%  Alc. Vol.Beverages who have a bigger amount of alcohol than this, can't be commercialized as "drinks". According to the Regulation of Sanitary Control of Products and Services, in its only chapter for alcoholic beverages, Article 175, we can consider as alcoholic beverages the following ones:

  1. Fermented drinks
  2. Distilled drinks
  3. Liquors
  4. Prepared alcoholic drinks and cocktails.

Likewise, in the Article 176 of that same chapter, based on their alcohol content alcoholic beverages are classified as:

  1. Of low alcohol content: beverages with an alcohol content of 2% to 6% by volume.
  2. Of average alcohol content: beverages with an alcohol content of 6.1% to 20% by volume.
  3. Of high alcohol content: beverages with an alcohol content of 20.1% to 55% by volume.

The Official Mexican StandardNOM-142-SSA1 / SCFI-2014, which establishes the sanitary specifications and the requirements for the commercial labeling of alcoholic beverages that are commercialized in Mexican territory, defines the previous alcoholic beverages the following way:

  • Fermented alcoholic beverage: Product that results from the fermentation -alcoholic mainly- of raw materiales of vegetable origin. Ingredients and additives allowed in the Agreement by which permitted additives and coadjuvants in food, beverages and food supplements are specified, as well as their use and sanitary provisions, may be added. They have an alcohol content of 2% to 20% Alc. Vol.
  • Distilled alcoholic beverage: Product obtained by the distillation of fermented liquids that have been prepared from vegetable raw materials in which all or a part of their fermentable sugars have undergone as their main fermentation process, the alcoholic one, as long as the distillate has not been completely rectified. The product must therefore contain the secondary substances that are formed during fermentation and that are characteristic of each drink (with the exception of vodka). They are susceptible of being softened and, if necessary, aged or matured. Ingredients and additives allowed by the Agreement in which the permitted additives and coadjuvants for food, beverages and food supplements are specified, as well as their use and sanitary provisions, may be added. They have an alcohol content of 32% to 55.0% Alc. Vol.
  • Prepared alcoholic beverages: Products made from distilled or fermented alcoholic beverages, liqueurs, or mixtures of them, scented and flavored with specific procedures. Other ingredients, additives and coadjuvants that are allowed in the Agreement by which the permitted additives and adjuvants in food, beverages and food supplements as specified, as well as their use and sanitary provisions, may be added. They have an alcohol content of 2.0% to 12.0% Alc. Vol.
  • Cocktail: Product made from distilled, fermented alcoholic beverages, liquors, neutral spirit, quality alcohol or common alcohol or a mixture of them and water, scented and flavored with specific procedures. Ingredients as well as additives and coadjuvants allowed in the Agreement that specifies the permitted additives and coadjuvants in foods, beverages and food supplements, as well their use and sanitary provisions, may be added. They have an alcohol content of 12% to 32% Alc. Vol.
  • Liquor or cream: Product made with distilled alcoholic beverages, neutral spirit, quality alcohol or common alcohol or a mixture of them; with a content of no less than 1.0% (m/v) of sugars or total reducing sugars and water; scented and flavored with specific procedures. Other ingredients, additives and coadjuvants allowed in the Agreement by which permitted additives and coadjuvants are specified for food, beverages and food supplements, as well as their use and sanitary provisions, may be added. They have an alcohol content of 13.5% to 55% Alc. Vol.

In addition to all that has been previously mentioned, it should be noted that there are numerous rules, laws and regulations related to alcoholic beverages, and that these may be federal, state or local, so it is recommended to review the legal framework of each region of the national territory.

Standard Drink

Standard drink (TE for Trago Estándar) or Standard Drink Unit (UBE for Unidad de Bebida Estándar) is a measurement unit used to determine a fixed amount of pure ethanol per drink. Using this measure allows us to accurately quantify how much a person drinks. It is also key when running screening tests or surveys.

The value given to the standard drink is not universal, so it is common to find variations in the amount of pure ethanol it contains depending on the country or the research done. In addition to this, there is a wide variety of alcoholic beverages in different concentrations, which are also sold in different ways such as by glass, by can, by bottle, by barrel or other presentations, which can complicate the use of the TE as a measurement unit.

Regardless of the container used to drink the different types of drinks (shot, oldfashioned glass, glass, jar, etc.), the TE helps us calculate what makes up a drink depending on the alcohol concentration it has. It is also helpful when calculating how many TE does each drink presentation has. In summary, the Standard Drink unit is used for:

  1. Running studies about how much a person or population drinks
  2. Establishing guidelines once it's been settled the TE that corresponds to in a given region and determine thus, the parameters to limit Moderate Intake.
  3. Preventing the harmful use of alcohol.

Standard Drink in Mexico

Several national official agencies have used the Standard Drink unit in their education and health promotion programs, such as:

  • National Commission against Addictions (CONADIC)
  • Youth Integration Centers (CIJ)
  • Institute for the Care and Prevention of Addictions (IAPA)
  • Social Research Foundation (FISAC).

In Mexico, the Standard Drink has a value of 13 grams according to what is stipulated in NOM-142-SSA1 / SCFI-2014 and in NOM-047-SSA2-2015 as a standard drink. To determine the amount of pure alcohol that a standard drink has, it is necessary to run a study on the most consumed beverages in the country. In Mexico, according to the Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health (2014) of the World Health Organization (WHO), 76% of the alcohol that is consumed corresponds to beer, 22% to distilled spirits, 1% to wines and the remaining 1% to other beverages. Thus, the equivalence o grams of alcohol of the following beverages is represented like this:


beer Alc. Vol.

BEER, 340 ml - 4.5% Alc.Vol. 12 g of alcohol

wine Alc. Vol.

Wine, 107 ml- 14% Alc. Vol. 12 g of alcohol

Tequila Alc. Vol.




Tequila, 40 ml - 38% Alc. Vol. 12 g of alcohol





We know that 13 g of ethanol are metabolized in the body of a healthy adult man in about an hour and in a healthy adult woman, in an hour and a half.

Once we correlate drinks with the time it takes to metabolize ethanol in the body, it will be easier to quantify our intake and thus, be aware of the amount of alcohol that we having.

Cocktails made with Tequila

Responsible Intake of Alcohol

Here are some recommendations that we share so you have a better control of the alcohol intake that you are having.

  • Always keep track of what you drink and how much you drink
  • Get informed about the TE so you can calculate your drinks accurately
  • Set goals, decide how much and on what day you'll drink
  • Go slow and at a good pace. Don't drink more than one TE per hour
  • Eat something before and while drinking
  • Avoid drinking at situations or with people that usually lead to over drinking
  • Plan ahead so you can control your impulses
  • Make use of your right to say "no" firmly and knowing and respecting your limits

Come and visit Casa Sauza, our bartender will prepare the best tequila-based drinks  you'll ever have. Have a tequila-based drink right at Tequila, Jalisco!


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