Shot glass

Shot glass

Three shot glasses of varying shape and size
Shot glasses with a variety of designs. Shot glasses such as these are often collected as novelty items.

A shot glass is a small glass designed to hold or measure spirits or liquor, which is either drunk straight from the glass ("a shot") or poured into a cocktail. A "shot" of liquor is not the same as a "shooter".

Shot glasses decorated with a wide variety of toasts, advertisements and humorous pictures are popular souvenirs and collectibles.


  • Name origin 1
  • Earliest Shot Glasses 2
  • Sizes 3
  • Shot-measuring tools 4
    • Jigger 4.1
    • Kitchen shot 4.2
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Name origin

The Oxford English Dictionary's first citation for the term "shot glass" is in The New York Times during the 1940s, but the earliest known written reference was in a 1913 book by Dr. Jehu Z. Powell, A History of Cass County Indiana from its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time [Lewis Publishing Company, 1913].

On page 655 Dr. Powell recounts an incident c. 1857 in the small town of New Waverly, Indiana, occasioned by a local man attempting to open a saloon against fierce local temperance opposition. The initial stock was a barrel of whiskey, which had arrived by train and was sitting on the open freight platform awaiting delivery to the would-be barkeeper. A local man who was an ardent temperance supporter fired his rifle from an upper floor window in his house and shot a hole in the barrel, draining it of its contents. "The remedy was effectual, and the saloon was not opened, and ever after, when the boys wanted a drink they would ask for a 'shot of redeye'".[1]

New Waverly is located just outside of Logansport, Indiana, which was an important transportation hub for northern Indiana in the 19th century as a riverboat port on the Wabash River and a stop on the Wabash and Erie Canal, as well as an important railroad engine maintenance and repair center during the first half of the 20th century. This intensive involvement in transportation could account for the gradual dissemination of an otherwise obscure local expression over a much broader geographic area.

Several examples also exist from the 1930s.[2][3] However, although it was used by some,[4][5] the term apparently did not come into common usage until much later.

Many references from the 1800s describe giving a jigger (1½ fl oz) of whiskey or rum to workers who were digging canals. Most shot glasses are found in the United States, but shot glasses from before the 1940s are very rare.[6]

Earliest Shot Glasses

Some of the earliest small whiskey glasses in America from the late 1700s to early 1800s were called "whiskey tasters" or "whiskey tumblers" and were hand blown. They are thick similar to today's shot glasses but will show a pontil scar on the bottom or will show a cupped area on the bottom where the pontil scar was ground and polished off. Some of these glasses even have hand-applied handles and decorations hand cut by a grinding wheel.

In the early to mid 1800s glass blowers began to use molds(see EAPG(Early American Pattern Glass) and several different patterns of "whiskey tasters" in several different colors were being made in molds. These glasses are also thick like today's shot glass but they will have rough pontiled bottoms from being hand blown into the mold. By the 1870s to 1890s as glass making technology improved, the rough pontiled bottoms largely disappeared from glasses and bottles.

Just before Prohibition in the U.S. in the late 1800s to early 1900s, thin-sided mass-produced whiskey glasses were common. Many of these glasses feature etched advertising on them. After Prohibition, these were replaced by shot glasses with a thick base and thick sides.


Country Small Single Double Notes
Australia 30 mL 60 mL A single shot is sometimes called a "nip".[7] At 30 mL, a typical spirit with 40 percent alcohol is roughly equivalent to one Australian standard drink.[8]
Canada 28.41 ml (1 oz)[9] is a short shot (pony shot) 42.62 ml (1.5 ounces) 71 ml (2.5 ounces) In Canada, a "shot" generally refers to the province's definition of a "standard drink" under liquor licenses. Although sizes may vary, most provinces cite amounts similar to Ontario's guidelines of 0.6 oz. or 17.05 mL of pure alcohol. Since a "shot" is typically a spirit with 40 percent alcohol, this makes the shot 1.5 oz. or 42.62 mL (though many establishments serve a "standard drink" of 1 oz).[10] A double shot in North America may be either 2.5 or 3 fluid ounces.[11] A smaller 1.0 fl. oz. shot is usually referred to as a "pony shot" or "short shot".[12]
Denmark 20 mL 40 mL
Finland 20 mL 40 mL N/A In Finland, the amount of strong alcohol restaurants are allowed to serve is regulated by law to one portion of no more than 40 mL at a time per customer. Doubles cannot be legally served.[13]
Germany 20 mL 40 mL In Germany, shot glasses (German: Schnapsglas, Pinnchen, Stamperl) are smaller.
Greece 45 mL 90 mL A shot is commonly referred to as a "sfinaki" and it can be made of one liquor or a cocktail mix. There is also an 3 oz – "bottoms up" version of "sfinaki", called "ipovrihio", Greek word for submarine. It's served in a standard liquor glass half full of blonde beer, where the bartender adds a glass shot filled with vodka or whiskey.
Hungary 20 or 30 mL 40 or 50 mL 80 or 100 mL In Hungarian, shot glasses are called felespohár (feles meaning "half", standing for 0.5 dL), pálinkáspohár (for pálinka), kupica or stampedli.
India 30 mL 30 mL 60 mL A shot is commonly referred to as a "peg", and is measured as a "small" (chhota), or a "large" (bud-da) peg. A 120 mL shot in India is called a Patiala peg.[14]
Ireland 35.5 mL 71 mL Derived from the use of a quarter-gill (35.516 mL, one-sixteenth of a pint) as the traditional Irish spirit measure.
Israel 30 mL 50 or 60 mL In Israel, the common word for a small shot is צ'ייסר ("chaser").
Italy 30 mL 40 or 60 mL In Italy, the common word for a shot is cicchetto or, more informally and used mainly in nightclubs by young people, shortino. In North Italy, the cicchetto is the most-common way to taste grappa from at least two centuries.
Japan 30 mL 60 mL In Japanese, the word ショットグラス (shottogurasu) is the singular term for a shot glass.
Poland 25 mL 50 mL 100 mL To take shots in Polish slang is to take po pięćdziesiątce, meaning to take "by fifties" (50 mL).
Romania 50 mL 100 mL A single shot is traditionally known in the Romanian language as unu mic (una mică) or cinzeacă, meaning "a small one". A double shot is simply called unu (una mare), meaning "one (big)".
Russia 50 mL 100 mL Both single and double shots are commonly called стопка (stópka) in Russian, though a variety of slang names exist. Before metrication a single shot was called шкалик (shkálik) and amounted to 61.5 ml, while a double was called чарка (chárka) and was equal to 123 ml — both names are still occasionally used.
Serbia 20 mL 30–50 mL 50–70 mL A single shot is traditionally known in the Serbian language as чашица за ракију and ракијска чашица, meaning "small glass for rakija" and "rakija glass", or simply as мера—мерица, meaning "measure". A double shot is simply called Дупли, meaning "a double", while the smallest, 20 milliliter glass, is known as dvojka meaning "two".
Sweden 20 mL 40 mL 60 mL A single shot is referred to as a fyra, meaning "a four" and a double is referred to as a sexa, meaning "a six", as Swedes generally use centiliters rather than milliliters.
Slovakia 20 or 25 mL 40 or 50 mL 80 or 100 mL The most-common single-shot size is the pol deci (literally, "half a decilitre", 50 mL).
South Africa 25 mL The South African government has an official definition for the single-shot size.
United Kingdom 25 or 35 mL 50 or 70 mL Shots sold on-premises must contain either 25 mL or 35 mL measures of whisky, gin, rum, or vodka as defined in the Weights and Measures Act of 1985. This requirement does not extend to other spirits. A 2001 amendment allowed a double shot of 70 mL to be served. Generally, a single measure is equal to 35 mL in Northern Ireland and Scotland and 25 mL in the rest of the United Kingdom.[15]
United States 30 mL (1.0 US fl oz) 44 mL (1.5 US fl oz) 89 mL (3.0 US fl oz) There is no standard size for a single shot, except in [16] Elsewhere in the U.S., the standard size is generally considered to be 1.25–1.5 fl. oz.[17][18]

Shot-measuring tools


Variety of jiggers

A jigger or measure is a bartending tool used to measure liquor, which is typically then poured into a cocktail shaker. It is named for the unit of liquid it typically measures, a jigger or shot, which measures 1.5 US fluid ounces (44 ml).[19] However, bar jiggers come in other sizes and may not actually measure a fluid jigger.

A traditional style of jigger is made of stainless steel with two unequal sized opposing cones in an hourglass shape on the end of a rod. Typically, one cone measures a regulation single shot, and the other some fraction or multiple—with the actual sizes depending on local laws and customs.

Kitchen shot

A small shot glass specifically marketed for kitchen use is graduated in units such as ounce and half ounce, teaspoons, tablespoons or possibly millilitres. They are useful for recipes that call for multiples of a smaller unit (e.g. several teaspoons), allowing the dispensing of the amount in a single measure.[20]

See also


  1. ^ "History of Cass County Indiana". 
  2. ^ "...whiskey and sour, which was served in a 2-ounce "shot" glass..." American Law Reports (annotated), Volume 66 (1930). Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Company (via Google Books).
  3. ^ "He held his shot glass upside down and watched the last few drops of whisky roll down the side of the glass" Prairie Schooner, Volumes 13–14 (1939). University of Nebraska Press (via Google Books).
  4. ^ "...and brought out a bottle of brandy and a shot glass..." The Portsmouth Times (via Google News). September 6, 1941.
  5. ^ "...characters nursing a shot glass late at night in men's bars..." St. Petersburg Times (via Google News). August 1, 1955.
  6. ^ "The Pre-Prohibition Collector's Resource Site". Retrieved October 16, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Alcohol - Standard drinks guide". 
  8. ^ "Standard Drinks Guide".  
  9. ^ "Weights and Measures Act".  
  10. ^ Smart Serve Ontario: Hospitality Industry Training Organization of Ontario. Smart Serve Ontario: Responsible Alcohol Beverage Service Training (2002). Queen's Printer for Ontario, p. 6.
  11. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Units: D". How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement.  
  12. ^ "Shot Glass". Glass info. The Webtender. Retrieved May 19, 2008. 
  13. ^ §24]
  14. ^ Kirin Narayan, Love, stars, and all that, Piatkus, 1995,  
  15. ^ "1 Unit" (PDF format).
  16. ^ Mark. "Shotglass Size". a site for shotglasses and other similar items. Retrieved May 19, 2008. 
  17. ^ Graham, Colleen. "Shot Glass". Cocktails: The Glassware Tour.  
  18. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Units: S". How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement.  
  19. ^ Feller, Robyn M. (2003). The Complete Bartender.  
  20. ^ "An example of a kitchen shot from a kitchenware manufacturer". Kitchen shot. Anchor Hocking. Retrieved Feb 1, 2013. 

External links

  • The Shotglass collectors website