How Many OZ in a Shot?

Anish Patel @ 2022-05-11 23:44:15 -0700

Tinto Amorio - Cocktail


What exactly does the “one” stand for when we say “I’ll have one shot?” Is it a teaspoon? A tablespoon? An ounce? What exactly is “a shot”? You might be surprised to know that one shot doesn’t equal one ounce of liquor. A shot is almost always more than an ounce and less than two, but the exact amount varies from country to country, state to state, and even bar to bar.  

Knowing how much liquor is actually in “a” shot will help you to gauge how much liquor you’re actually consuming on a night out. Let’s take a look at how shots of liquor are typically measured and how to determine what your limit should be.

How many ounces are in a shot?

In the U.S., a standard shot is 1.5 ounces. There are no federal laws mandating what a shot should be, although Utah has made it the legal maximum. Still, it’s up to the bars to decide how many ounces are in a shot, and this can range from 1.25 ounces to 2 ounces depending on the state.

For example, 1.25 is common in Utah and Colorado. Larger, corporate establishments also tend to pour 1.25-ounce shots in order to maximize profits. Smaller establishments will stick pour a 1.5-ounce pour because that’s what guests typically expect, and it can put a bad taste in the mouth of your clientele to pour small pours.

Las Vegas casinos and bars will often pour 1-ounce shots, while upscale bars around the country pour 2-ounce pours to satisfy clientele that are more concerned about craftsmanship than price point.

The size of a shot varies from country to country as well. While the US standard is 1.5 ounces, Germany’s shot is about ¾ ounces. France and the UK both pour 1-ounce shots, while Japan pours a 2-ounce shot. But even in many of these countries, the pour size varies from bar to bar.

How do you measure a shot?

Shot glasses, in theory, are made to fit the standard 1.5 ounces, but sizes can vary. Some are made to fit smaller shots, and some are massive. If you want to be precise in measuring a shot, you’ll need a bar tool called a jigger. A jigger is an hourglass-shaped tool that measures 1.5 ounces on one side, and can be flipped around to measure ¾ ounces on the other. You can also purchase a jigger that measures a 2-ounce on one side and 1-ounce on the other.

Don’t have bar tools? That’s okay. 1 tablespoon is equal to ½ ounce. So 3 tablespoons will give you a standard 1.5-ounce pour. That’s nine teaspoons, for the record.

A shot is different from a neat pour.

A neat pour is your choice of liquor poured straight into the glass without shaking, mixing, or ice. Even though ordering a drink neat is essentially the same as ordering a shot, every bar will pour 2 ounces if you order a neat. This is because a neat pour is meant to be sipped like a cocktail, while a shot is meant to be, well, shot.

The same standard applies to a rocks pour. A rocks pour, which is your choice of liquor poured over ice, is always measured as a 2-ounce pour as well. Keep this in mind when you’re ordering at the bar.

How to know your limit and pace yourself at the bar.

Knowing that there’s variation from bar to bar will give you the awareness you need as you’re deciding what you’re ordering. If you want to pace yourself, you can choose drinks that are less boozy and learn your own personal limits.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism recommends that a moderate amount of alcohol is four drinks for men and three for women. Women generally have less water and tissue in their bodies, both of which are needed to process alcohol. Because of this, their bodies process alcohol slower than men. It’s recommended that you keep your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) under .06 to stay buzzed but in control, so keep in mind your gender, and your weight when deciding what your limits are.

There are several things you can do in addition to this to make sure that you don’t hit your limit and wind up with a nasty hangover. First, eat a good meal and drink plenty of water before you hit the town. Food and water help your body process alcohol, and without prepping your body, you will wake up a headache or worse.

Next, sip and don’t chug your drinks. Shots are fun, but blacking out isn’t. Slow your roll, order drinks that you can sip on, and alternate with water or mocktails in between drinks to help dilute the alcohol in your body.

You can also order certain drinks “tall” to pace yourself. If you’re drinking a vodka soda or even a gin and tonic, ask your bartender to make them tall. All this means is you want it in a larger glass. The bartender will add the same amount of alcohol but will fill the glass with ice and a mixer. This means a weaker drink and less alcohol in your body.

Get familiar with the recipes of classic cocktails.

There’s a big difference between a Long Island Iced Tea and a vodka soda. Get to know which cocktails are boozy and which ones are lighter, so you don’t catch yourself off guard.

For example, an old-fashioned is a pretty booze-heavy cocktail. It typically has a 2-ounce pour of bourbon with bitters, sugar, and rock. A martini, as tempting as they are, is typically a double of gin or vodka with vermouth. And a French 75 is a shot of gin topped off with Champagne and lemon juice.

It’s true, the classics tend to be higher in alcohol, and that doesn’t mean you have to give them up entirely. Just choose wisely. Enjoy a booze-forward cocktail at the beginning of the night, and then take a break, then switch to lighter drinks for the remainder of the night.

Highballs tend to be lighter, so look for those on the menu. A vodka soda, for example, is a shot of vodka topped with ice and club soda. The club soda is hydrating, so this is a great choice. A Paloma is usually 2 ounces of tequila, topped with grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup and sparkling water. And Tinto de Verano is a classic red wine cocktail that combines equal parts red wine and lemon soda. It’s refreshing, bubbly, and cuts the ABV of a glass of wine in half.

If you’re not sure, ask the bartender.

Your bartender knows exactly what’s going into your drink and how many of them they’re comfortable serving you. If you order more than one booze-forward drink, it’s likely that the bartender will keep a closer eye on you. Don’t be offended, part of their job description is to keep their guests safe and in some states, they can even be held accountable if you leave and commit a crime like drinking and driving.

So if you’re not sure if what you want to order is going to be high in alcohol or not, just ask. Your bartender will be happy to make suggestions based on what kind of experience you’re looking for.

Want a low ABV cocktail to enjoy at home or by the pool? Try our Spritz Variety Bundle, two lightly sparkling wine cocktails that will help you pace yourself on hot summer days.


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