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Can booze-infused foods really put you over the drink-drive limit?

  • Three-Quarters of Mary Berry’s Trifle will send you over the limit
  • One jug of peppercorn sauce contains a whopping 100ml brandy
  • It would take 325 chocolate liqueurs to send you over the edge

In light of Sober October and many motorists who might be considering taking on the challenge, USwitch have explored how alcohol could be sneaking into your system without you even realising when eating your favourite foods.

From the Irish liqueur found in tiramisu to the large glass of red wine adding flavour to your French coq au vin, how many servings could potentially push you over the drink-drive limit?

The alcohol limit for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, whilst drivers in Scotland are allowed just 22 micrograms for the same reading. However, in light of recent announcements for young drivers, we could soon see a zero-tolerance alcohol policy come into effect.

The 80mg limit allows a man of average height and weight to drink as many as four units of alcohol, or two pints of normal strength beer, and remain within the law. Women can drink three units, the equivalent of a large glass of average strength wine, however, it’s important to note that age, weight, stress levels, and your metabolism all affect how your body absorbs alcohol.

Taking 3.5 units as an average, we’ve explored how much booze infused food you’d have to eat to be over the drink-drive limit. Using popular recipes from the web, we’ve tallied up the numbers to reveal all.


One family-sized tiramisu

Rich and creamy, tiramisu is an Italian classic that’s known for being infused with baileys or Tia Maria, but how much tiramisu will make you tipsy? This recipe from Nigella Lawson contains 100ml of Irish cream liquor which equates to 4 units. Whilst the family-sized recipe is designed to be shared, if you’ve got a sweet tooth and are planning to drive, eating the entire dish is enough to push you over the limit.


Three servings of coq au vin

Coq au vin is a French dish of chicken braised with wine, lardons, mushrooms, and optionally garlic. A red Burgundy wine is typically used to infuse the dish with flavour. Many recipes including this one, require 600ml of wine (just short of a bottle) which adds up to 7.6 units of alcohol. That means three servings of this dish would be enough to send you over the drink-drive limit, however even one serving with extra jus could be enough.


Four servings of peppercorn sauce

Enjoyed with steak, most of us probably don’t think twice about lashing peppercorn sauce over our plates. However, shockingly, it takes just one small jug to land you in a spot of bother. The recipe from Good To Know contains 100ml of brandy, which is four units of alcohol, and designed to serve 4.


¾ of Mary Berry’s trifle

Mary Berry is famous for her incredible desserts; however, her tipsy trifle recipe could have you seeing double if you overindulge. Eating three-quarters of a full trifle would be enough to send you over the limit, as it contains 3.75 units of alcohol. With 250ml of sherry soaked into the delicious dish, it contains 5 units of alcohol overall.


Six bowls of French onion soup

A great winter warmer, it’s no wonder French onion soup is so popular at this time of year. However, depending on your serving size, you could end up being over the limit if you slurp too much soup! With 35.5ml of Cognac, 60ml of dry white vermouth, and 17.5ml of fortified wine, this recipe from Catering-Online is packed with high volume spirits that might make you fail a breathalyser test. From the recipe, we estimate around six small bowls of soup would be enough, so probably best to keep this as a starter.


One side of gin cured salmon

Often served as a canape at dinner parties, as we get closer to Christmas it’s likely you’ll see more gin cured salmon on the supermarket shelves. Due to its growth in popularity in recent years, more people are also infusing their own salmon at home, using recipes like this one to create a booze-infused fish dish. The salmon side is infused with 100ml of gin, which equates to 4 single servings or two double measures. If you polished off the whole plate in one evening, you’d most certainly be over the drink-drive limit!


Six servings of white wine sauce

The perfect accompaniment to fish or chicken, white wine sauce is a firm favourite for many Brits. Whilst we know the sauce is bound to contain white wine, how much would it actually take to make an impact?

Using a recipe from Good to Know, we can reveal it takes just six servings of white wine sauce to send you over the drink-drive limit. With 300ml, just short of a large glass of wine, added to the creamy sauce, the jug contains 4.2 units of alcohol in total, which is more than the average recommendation.


Thirteen servings of spaghetti Bolognese

Who doesn’t love a traditional, hearty, spaghetti Bolognese? Perfectly paired with a glass of red wine, did you know many recipes often add a little splash to the sauce, too?

A BBC Good Food recipe designed to serve 6 contains 125ml of red wine, which equates to 1.75 units if its 14% ABV. That means you’d have to eat a whopping 13 dishes of spaghetti Bolognese to consume enough alcohol to be pushed over the limit. Although, after eating that much spaghetti, it’s unlikely you’d be able to move from the sofa to drive!


A two-litre tub of rum and raisin ice cream

If you’re a fan of ice cream and often find yourself at the bottom of the tub, rum and raisin probably isn’t the best flavour to choose. Eating a full two-litre tub of this sweet treat might leave you feeling rather merry as it contains 100ml of dark rum. Another recipe from Mary Berry, this ice cream is bound to be delicious, however, we advise sticking to a couple of scoops, or a tub of Ben and Jerry’s if you have to head out in the car soon after.


325 chocolate liqueurs

Whilst you can technically get drunk from eating chocolate liqueurs, you will need to consume a lot. Elizabeth Shaw’s Famous Names Signature Collection contains an estimated 3.4% alcohol per 12 chocolates (185g) which is around 3.4ml of alcohol. To be over the drink-drive limit, you would have to indulge in around 325 chocolates! Feeling queasy yet?

If you’re worried about eating yourself over the drink drive limit, our research reveals it’s going to take quite a lot. It’s also worth noting that heat can evaporate a lot of the alcohol content added to food, which can also reduce the quantity you consume. However, if you’re planning to enjoy a glass of wine or beer with your meal, you might want to skip the tiramisu or trifle and opt for a booze-free dessert.

Uswitch car insurance expert, Florence Codjoe, says: “Despite these dishes containing alcohol, when eaten in moderation it’s highly unlikely you will fail a breathalyser test in the event you are stopped by the police. However, if you are considering drinking alcohol before driving, you must stay under the limit or you could invalidate your car insurance, face a hefty fine, points on your licence, or even have your licence revoked.”