Tell us if this sounds familiar: You’re sipping on half-priced cocktails at happy hour—or taking advantage of the hotel bar on vacation, or living it up on a night out with friends—and someones shouts, “Shots! Shots! Shots!” The bartender lines up some shot glasses and fills them with booze. Partygoers knock them back, one by one.
But not all shots are created equal, so it’s often hard to know how much alcohol is being imbibed. The reason is twofold: Firstly, alcohol by volume (ABV) varies between spirits. A particular brand of rum, for instance, may contain more alcohol than a particular brand of vodka, but sometimes the inverse is true. Different spirits can also have the same ABV. Our advice? Always check the bottle to know how much booze you’re drinking.
The second reason, however, is all about the actual shot glass. This small drinking vessel usually holds around 1.5 to 2 ounces of liquor, but the size of these shot glasses can vary from bar to bar and restaurant to restaurant—or even country to country.
Confused? Below, we demystify shot glasses once and for all.
How Many Ounces Are in a Shot?
While there is no federally-mandated shot-glass size, many U.S. bartenders consider a standard volume to be 1.5 ounces, or 44 milliliters. (For what it’s worth, Utah is the only state that has officially defined a shot measurement—and it’s 1.5 ounces.)
That’s not to say that every time you order a shot, you’re getting 1.5 ounces-worth of alcohol. Some bars and restaurants can serve you only a single ounce per shot and be completely in the right. In places like Japan and Israel, a shot can equal 2 ounces of alcohol.
If you ask your bartender for a double shot, you’re most likely going to get 2 to 3 ounces or 60 to 88 millimeters. Of course, when in doubt, ask your bartender.
Saké drinking vessels will vary in size, too. But generally speaking, shot-like saké glasses contain 1.5 ounces to 3 ounces.
Why Shot-Glass Size Is Important
While many recipes can be treated like a template and slightly altered, increasing the alcohol in any given cocktail can significantly alter its taste. Keep that in mind when measuring out your booze.
Second and perhaps more important, increasing the alcohol in a cocktail increases the ABV of that drink—and can cause the drinker to become more intoxicated than anticipated.
What About Jiggers?
A jigger is a bar utensil used to ensure the proper amount of alcohol is poured into drinks. But just like shot glasses, there are many variations in size, measurement and style. Most jiggers, however, measure 1.5 ounces on one side and 0.75 ounces on the other. Other jigger measurements you’ll find are 1.5 ounces on one side and 1 ounce on the other.
Of course, if you don’t have a jigger or a shot glass handy, you can still measure a shot using a tablespoon measure (one shot equals three tablespoons) or a teaspoon measure (one shot equals nine teaspoons).
After all, necessity is the mother of invention!