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Updated on October 11, 2023
7 min read

Types of Alcohol - List of Drinks by Alcohol Content

What Is Alcohol?

Alcohol is a natural byproduct of sugar and plant fermentation. It has a wide variety of uses, but it can be distilled into drinkable substances such as:

  • Beers
  • Wines
  • Ciders
  • Mead
  • Liquor

Drinking alcohol can be fatal, depending on the amount you drink. Consult a doctor or treatment center to learn about available treatment options and resources for alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

Contact a poison control center or 911 if you have taken an alcohol-based substance not intended for consumption.

Difference Between Ethyl, Isopropyl, and Methyl Alcohol

Ethyl alcohol or ethanol is a plant-based fermentation widely used in spirits, beers, and ciders. Out of the three different types of alcohol, ethyl alcohol is the only one that humans can consume.

Isopropyl alcohol is a chemical compound made from water and propene. It’s commonly used as a disinfectant, made through a hydration reaction or hydrogenating acetone.

Methyl is the purest form of alcohol, typically used as a solvent in industrial or commercial instances. It is produced synthetically by a multi-step process involving natural gas and steam reforming. 


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Difference Between Distilled & Undistilled Alcohol 

Distilled alcohol forms from heating the plant matter at high temperatures to produce collected and bottled steam. This process creates higher-strength and higher-proof alcohol. 

In contrast, undistilled alcohol is made by fermenting sugar or plant matter and yeast with water and heat. This process produces ethanol as a byproduct. It is less pure and lower in strength.

Different Types of Alcoholic Beverages (By Alcohol Content)

Percent of alcohol 1

Distilled Alcoholic Beverages

Distilled drinks, also known as spirits or hard liquor, vary in fermentation processes. They also have different ingredients and alcohol by volume (ABV). 

Below is a list of popular distilled alcoholic spirits.

  • Gin: A distilled spirit made from juniper berries and often citrus peel; typically has 35% to 55% ABV
  • Tequila: Contains 40% ABV and comes from distilling the center heart of blue agave plants
  • Brandy: A wine that has completed full fermentation and distillation; typically has 40% ABV
  • Vermouth: An aromatized, fortified wine with herbs and spices
  • Whiskey: Made by distilling a mash made of previously fermented grain and usually has 40% to 50% ABV
  • Vodka: Made by distilling a fermented mash and has 40% ABV; can be made from potatoes, berries, or even milk
  • Everclear: Contains 60% ABV but can also have up to 95% ABV
  • Rum: Made by distilling pure sugar cane, sugarcane juice, or molasses; varies in ABV from approximately 40% ABV (80 proof) to 75.5% ABV (151 proof)
  • Absinthe: A distillation sourced from the fermentation of herbs and leaves; typically has 90% ABV
  • Liqueur: A type of liquor that has been sweetened with various flavors, oils, or extracts
  • Ethanol or Grain Alcohol: A twice-distilled, neutral spirit derived from fermenting and distilling a grain that could include wheat, corn, rice, or rye
Types of Alcohol AlcoholRehabHelp 1

Undistilled Alcoholic Beverages

Undistilled alcoholic beverages are a staple in many cultures and regions worldwide. They’re also sometimes called fermented drinks.

Malt liquors or craft beers can have between 6% to 8% ABV.  Other examples of undistilled alcoholic drinks include:

  • Wine: A fermentation made of grapes and fruit; typically has an ABV of less than 14%; can be fortified with liquor and to have an ABV of 20%
  • Beer: Contains 2% to 4% ABV; typically made from fermented cereals or grains with fruit flavors and acids
  • Mead: Made of fermented honey and has an ABV of 10% to 14%
  • Saké: A traditional Japanese beverage made of fermented rice with an ABV of about 16%
  • Hard Ciders: Made from fermented apple juice or other fruit juices; typically has an ABV of 5%

What is the Most Commonly Consumed Alcoholic Drink?

Among the different types of alcoholic drinks worldwide, beer is the most popular. After water and tea, beer is the most commonly consumed drink in the world. It’s also the oldest alcoholic drink in history. 


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What is a "Standard Drink?"

what is standard drink

In the U.S., a standard drink is any drink that consists of 14 grams of pure alcohol. This amount is equal to about 0.6 fluid ounces or 1.2 tablespoons. Fourteen grams of alcohol is found in:

  • 12 fl oz of beer
  • 5 fl oz of wine
  • 8 oz of malt liquor
  • 1.5 fl oz of an 80-proof distilled spirit

Different brands and types of alcohol vary in alcohol content. The effects of alcohol on the body depend on your blood alcohol content (BAC). The liver can only process approximately one standard drink per hour.

Although the standard drink amounts are useful for following health guidelines, they don’t always reflect the same serving sizes. 

Likewise, while the alcohol concentrations listed are considered typical, there is significant variability in alcohol content within each alcoholic beverage. 


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Drinking in Moderation

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), moderate drinking is considered drinking two or fewer standard drinks for men daily. Meanwhile, women should have one or fewer standard drinks a day.

They also recommend that you avoid drinking alcohol entirely. If you don’t, then you should drink in moderation.

How Much is Too Much Alcohol?

Drinking five or more drinks for men or four or more for women within 2 hours is considered binge drinking. Consuming five or more drinks for men or four or more for women in a single session on 5 or more days a month is considered heavy drinking.

the health effects of alcohol

What are the Side Effects of Drinking Alcohol?

Drinking alcohol can lead to physical and mental side effects, ranging from short to long-term in duration.

If you experience severe side effects, seek medical attention. The long-term side effects of alcohol can be dangerous and require treatment.

Short-Term Side Effects of Alcohol

Short-term effects of alcohol consumption include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Loss of coordination and awareness
  • Poor memory
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Slurred speech
  • Risky sexual behaviors
  • Injuries (such as car crashes and drowning)

Long-Term Side Effects of Alcohol

Long-term effects of alcohol consumption include:

  • Brain damage
  • Liver damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease 
  • Pancreas issues
  • Increased risk of cancers
  • Weakened immune system
  • Learning problems
  • Social, mental, and financial problems
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Withdrawal
  • Alcohol use disorder (AUD)

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Alcohol withdrawal happens when you suddenly stop drinking alcohol. Your body is adjusting to the lack of alcohol in your system.

It typically happens when you become dependent on alcohol, which can lead to unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects, such as:

  • Tremors or shaking
  • Irritability or mood changes
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Auditory, visual, or tactile hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens (DTs - shaking frenzy)

The severity of your withdrawal symptoms depends on how long you’ve been abusing alcohol. If you or someone you know is experiencing alcohol withdrawal, seek medical attention immediately.

Treatment Options for Alcohol Addiction

If you think you’re drinking too much alcohol, consider seeking treatment, especially if you have become dependent on alcohol or are experiencing withdrawal.

It’s important to understand that people respond to treatment differently. Talk to a doctor or an addiction specialist. They can provide treatment programs that best suit your needs. 

Available treatment options include:


There are three types of alcohol—isopropyl, methyl, and ethyl alcohol. However, only ethyl alcohol or ethanol can be consumed by humans.

Distilled alcoholic drinks include fortified wines and liquors. Meanwhile, undistilled or fermented beverages include wines, beers, etc.

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to dangerous physical and mental side effects. To avoid these side effects, consider drinking in moderation or abstaining from any alcoholic beverage completely.

Updated on October 11, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on October 11, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “Facts about Moderate Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022.
  2. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.“Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.” U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2020.
  3. Grønbæk, M., and Becker, U. “Type of Alcohol Consumed and Mortality from All Causes.” Annals of Internal Medicine, 2000.
  4. Libretexts. “Isopropyl Alcohol.” Chemistry LibreTexts, Libretexts, 2019.
  5. Klein, H., and Pittman, D.J. “Alcohol Consumption And The Perceived Situational Appropriateness Of Consuming Different Types Of Alcoholic Beverages.” Alcohol and Alcoholism, 1989.
  6. Newman et al. “Alcohol Withdrawal.” Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, 2022.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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