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.