How Many Ciders Does It Take To Get Drunk? The science explained.

Cider is hugely popular, especially where i am from in the UK and Ireland. There are cheap versions and posh versions and i don’t know many students who didn’t drink their fair share at university. However, despite the apply taste, there is real alcohol in it. You may well need to know how many ciders to get you drunk.

Perhaps you have to drive, work, look after the kids etc and just don’t want to end up drunk. But the question then is, how many ciders does it take to get drunk?

How many beers to get drunk?

The CDC states it takes the average 160lb adult male, 4 standard ciders to get drunk. A standard cider is 12fl oz and 5% ABV. The 4 ciders have to be drank over 1-2 hours. If you are a female or lighter then it will take less beers, if you are a significantly heavier male, it may take 5+ ciders to get drunk.

What does drunk actually mean, what is the definition?

To start to work out how many ciders you need to drink, there needs to be a firm end point. There has to be a definition of “drunk” that isn’t subjective in any way.

A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% is classed as legally intoxicated in the US.

We now need to see how many standard drinks (in this case, cider) would get your BAC to 0.08%.

How do you feel at different blood alcohol concentrations?

As you drink more alcohol than your liver can metabolise, your BAC rises. The effects of a rising blood alcohol concentration has been tracked by many studies

Lots of informational websites include this data now.

  • 0.02% – Probably the lowest measurable BAC where you can track any brain issues. You may feel more relaxed and potentially make poorer decisions.
  • 0.05%: When you hit this BAC, your behaviour will may become over exaggerated. Speak louder and gesturing more are common. You may also begin to lose control of small muscles like the ones that control your eyes leading to blurry vision.
  • 0.08%: This is the current legal driving limit in the U.S and many areas around the world. It is also the legal definition of intoxicated in the US. You will likely lose some coordination, so your reaction times, speech, balance, and even hearing will deteriorate.
  • 0.10%: As we reach this BAC, reaction times and control will be reduced further. Your speech will be slurred, you think slower, and your coordination becomes poor.
  • 0.15%: Getting up to twice the legal driving limit now. You will have much less control over your balance and voluntary muscles. We have all seen someone who finds walking and talking difficult after a lot of alcohol. Falling and injuring yourself is a real possibility now.

What is a standard cider?

Cider can come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Much like the diversity in the beer market, you can have a 2% cider right up to a 12% cider. To try and quantify how many ciders it will take to get drunk we need to have a standard cider to work from.

The USDA have devised a list of “standard” alcoholic drinks. Each one contains the exact same amount of alcohol – 14g of alcohol (0.6 ounces).

Below is a list of the standard drinks, volumes and ABV that all give 14g of alcohol.

Drink and volumeAlcohol content
12fl oz Beer5%
8fl oz Malt Liquor 7%
5fl oz Wine12%
1.5fl oz Spirit40%
Standard Drinks

They don’t specifically have a cider category but i think there is enough similarity in the beer world to cider, that we can adopt the standard beer model for cider.

How many standard ciders to get drunk?

How many alcoholic ciders does the average adult need to drink to get to a BAC of 0.08% and drunk under the law?

The CDC tells us that the average 160lb adult male will need to drink 4 standard drinks, in the case ciders, to get to a BAC of 0.08%.

The answer is therefore, it would take 4 standard ciders to get drunk. These need to be drank over 1-2 hours however, as your liver will start breaking down the alcohol in your blood as soon as it encounters it.

How does weight affect the number of ciders to get drunk?

Probably the biggest impact on the amount of cider you would need to drink to get drunk is your weight. This will come as no great surprise to anyone im sure.

Alcohol is distributed throughout the body so if you have more actual body, less of the alcohol will remain in your bloodstream, lowering your blood alcohol concentration.

Below is a table of how body size might affect the “4 ciders to get drunk” rule.

Number of Beers140lbs160lbs180lbs200lbs220lbs
BAC after standard ciders – adult male

How does sex affect the number of beers to get drunk?

The next biggest determinant in how quickly you get drunk is if you are male or female. Again, i can’t see this shocking too many people reading this article.

A female will on average be smaller than a male, they have circa 40% less alcohol dehydrogenase (the enzyme that breaks down alcohol) than an equivalent male and they have a higher percentage of fat to lean mass so more of the alcohol is in their bloodstream.

Below is another table of how many ciders it would take a female of various sizes to get drunk. Remember the magic number to be classified as drink is 0.08% BAC

Number of Ciders140lbs160lbs180lbs200lbs220lbs
BAC after standard ciders – adult female

What other factors affects how quickly you get drunk?


Different ethnicities have variants of some key genetic components that are needed to break down alcohol and therefore their blood alcohol concentration spikes quicker.

Notable examples would be people of Asian or Native American descent can have reduced levels of alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol. This means they would get drunk quicker and on less beer.

Last meal

Nearly everyone knows if you drink on an empty stomach you will get drunk quicker. The local term we use here is “soakage”, as in you need some before a big session on the beer.

A large meal, close to when you are going to start drink, will lower the absolute peak of your blood alcohol concentration. The food delays the alcohol leaving your stomach and into the bloodstream.


The more you drink the more tolerance you can build up to the affects of alcohol.

Energy levels

If you feel especially tired or have had a lack of sleep, you will feel the intoxicating effects of alcohol sooner than if you were well rested.


If you mix alcohol with sedating prescription medications or illegal drugs then these can work to enhance the sedative affects of alcohol and make you feel drunk much quicker.


Believe it or not, having very strong motions like anger, fear or being lonely can bring on the affects of alcohol quicker. If you are out at a bar with the expectation of being drunk, you may well feel drunk sooner as well from the placebo effect.


Some birth control pills or drinking at the premenstrual stage of a woman’s cycle can lead to higher blood alcohol concentrations.

How many pints of cider to get drunk?

If you tend to consume your cider in pints rather than 355ml/12fl oz cans, then you will need less pints than cans to get you drunk.

4 x 12fl oz is 48fl oz or around 1420ml.

A UK pint is 568ml so it would take 2.5 UK pints to equal 4 standard ciders and therefore it would take 2.5 pints of 5% cider to get you drunk.

If the cider is stronger than 5%, it will take less, if it is weaker, then you can drink more.

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