Everything you need to know about measuring ounces in a shot glass around the world, from terms and origin to the number of shots in standard bottle sizes.
How Many Ounces Are In A Shot?
The standard shot size in the United States is 1.5 fluid ounces or 44.36 milliliters (ml). This isn’t a legal standard except in the State of Utah, where 1.5 fluid ounces is set in law. It seems ironic that the state with the lowest per capita alcohol consumption in the US is the one ensuring you don’t get cheated on your shot.
It isn’t known why a shot is 1.5 fluid ounces. As liquor is now commonly sold in 750ml or 1.75L bottles the number of shots in a bottle doesn’t come out evenly.
You should pay attention when drinking out that some establishments today have started posting that their drinks contain only 1.25 fluid ounces of liquor. Skimpflation is here!
Which U.S. President was known for his alcohol consumption?
- Abraham Lincoln
- Ulysses Grant
- Jimmy Carter
- Joe Biden
Shot Sizes Around the World
Outside of the USA, other nations are all over the map (our bad pun quota now met) on how they measure shot sizes.
|Nation||Shot Size (mL)||Shot Size (fl oz)|
|Germany & Denmark||20||0.68|
|UK, France & South Africa||25||0.85|
|Australia, India, Japan & Serbia||30||1.01|
|Ireland, France (again) & The Netherlands||35||1.18|
|Italy, Sweden, Finland, Hungary & Poland||40||1.35|
|Russia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Albania, Korea & Romania||50||1.69|
I do have to say the puzzlers here are the Germans and Brits. The standard German beer mug at Oktoberfest is 1 liter (a bit over two US pints). The Brits still measure beers in pints, but their pints are 20 oz. Why do the people who like their beers so large make their shots so small?!
Shots In A Bottle
|Bottle Size (mL)||Bottle Size (Fl Oz)||US Shots|
|50ml||1.7 fl oz||1.1|
|100ml||3.4 fl oz||2.3|
|200ml||6.8 fl oz||4.5|
|375ml||12.7 fl oz||8.5|
|700ml||23.7 fl oz||15.8|
|750ml||25.4 fl oz||16.9|
|1 L||33.8 fl oz||22.5|
|1.75 L||59.2 fl oz||39.4|
The European Union standardized on the 700 ml bottle about forty years ago to simplify the paying of taxes on alcohol. It also simplified container size as many pubs wanted to sell alcohol in 20, 25, 35, and 50 ml increments. 700 is divisible evenly by all of these.
Somewhat puzzling is the 50ml bottles so often used as a single drink. It seems in the USA these bottles should be 1.5 fluid ounces or 44.4ml to align them with US shot size.
What Is An Ounce?
Ounce comes from the Roman term “uncia.” An uncia was 1/12 of a Roman copper bar used as a tool to measure the length of an inch and the weight of an ounce.
Modern ounce weight and volume measurements, however, were refined in Britain. A fluid ounce is 1/16th of a pint. A dry ounce weighs 1/16 of a pound, or 28.35 grams. A Fluid ounce is the amount of water that weighs one ounce. The metric system, with everything measured in decimals would be easier, but in Roman times measuring volumes was done by dividing a quantity in half. So, if one wanted to measure out a pint they split the gallon jug in half, half again, and half a third time to get 8 equal pints. Dividing a gallon into 1/10ths was not so easy. So you see our imperial measurements aren’t nonsensical, they are just old school.
Where did the name “Shot Glass” come from?
This is another question we aren’t sure about. There are several storylines here:
In the Old West cowboys traded a rifle or pistol bullet (a shot) for a drink. This has been disputed and probably isn’t true.
The second theory maintains that the term actually originated in 17th Century England as a reference to paying a bar bill. Well that’s boring.
The name could have come from the gunshot-like sound of slamming an empty glass down on the bar after drinking the contents.
The glass’ name may also have come from Friedrich Otto Schott who invented borosilicate glass and made the glasses in his factory.
Finally, our favorite theory is that in a time when people more often hunted for food a “shot glass” was kept on the table so that if someone found lead shot in their food they had a specific place to put it. I mean come on, isn’t that better than naming the glass after a German chemist?
The Answer is B – Ulysses Grant! He was known as a hard drinker though the extent of his drinking during the Civil War was likely exaggerated by his rivals.
To recap, how many ounces in a shot? 1.5 fluid ounces, unless you travel abroad, in which case it all just depends on where you are!