How Many Ounces In A Shot: Jack’s Guide To Accurate Pouring

Are you interested in finding out the answer to the question of how many ounces in a shot? I’ll answer that and teach you much more about accurate pouring!

I am not much of a drinker these days, but I do have some experience with this subject from my college days. Nowadays, I prefer mixing up some interesting drinks for my friends when they come to visit or when I throw a party than drinking for the sake of it.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that without a few cocktails, a gathering with women cannot be successful. Ladies love these unusual, vibrant beverages, so I had to learn how to prepare them all too out of consideration for my female guests.

Even though it can appear straightforward, creating a great cocktail is not simple. If you want your cocktail to taste the way it should, you must precisely measure the alcohol. Knowing how systematic I am in everything I do, I also performed some studies on this topic.

First of all, I tried to find out the answer to a common question:

How many ounces in a shot?

Before we move on, check out which cocktail shakers are a perfect choice for 2022.

Why is the precise measuring of a shot of alcohol important?

Well, as I already said, you might want to make a cocktail accurately, or you merely want to keep your drink within the legal limit.

This leads us to another question: Does one shot equal one legal “drink”? Is it less or more than that? Are you allowed to drink more, or you have already overdone it and need to take a taxi on your way back home?

After we answer the question of how many ounces are in one shot, I will also offer some advice on what to do when you need to measure one shot of drink accurately, and there is no measuring shot glass to be found.

Stay tuned and be one step closer to becoming a cocktail master and impressing your lady guests.

How Many Ounces in a Shot?

A shot is a small glass often used as a measuring tool for making different drinks. Unfortunately, opposite to what most of us believe, shot glasses are not standardized. These small glasses made from thick glass differ not only in their shape but also in their size and pour.

It is a common belief that a shot glass holds exactly 1 oz of drink, but that is a misconception. In reality, most shot glasses hold 1.5 oz of liquor, but there are even bigger ones that have the 2 oz capacity.

As you can see, you should not take the size of your shot glass for granted but rather make sure you are well informed before you get down to making a drink. You can check the glass itself as sometimes it will have its size written on it, but that is not a general practice (it would make life much more comfortable though, so if someone who makes such decisions is reading this: Please consider this!).

If your cocktail calls for one shot, you are in more trouble than you think as you cannot know which shot glass the author had in mind. Knowing who the author is or where he comes from might be helpful as standard shot size varies from country to country, and you can make a safe assumption that he or she knew that as well.

You might think that I am splitting hairs a bit, but sometimes a little bit of liquor can make a huge difference in how your drink will turn out. When you get things wrong, you do not compromise only the taste of your drink and how it feels to your taste buds, you also risk a hangover the next morning.

I said a lot, but I haven’t provided you with much useful information, I am well aware of that. In essence, the standard measurement for a shot in the US is 1.5 oz. If you do not find any more specific information, you can go with that when you use it to measure your liquor.

If you use the shot glass as a drinking vessel and want to stay within the legal drinking limit or estimate how long it will take for the alcohol to filter out of your system, it is better to assume it is 1.5 oz and not 1 oz as there will be less chance to overdo it and risk your driving license.

To put things in perspective, if you drink two shots of your favorite drink here in the USA, you will have had as many as three legal drinks. How much will it take for all that alcohol to filter out of your system? At least three hours. Think about that while you enjoy a fun night of shots, and use the information I have provided to plan your night out more responsibly. Always stay safe!

  • Interesting fact: Shot glasses typically have a strong base to prevent them from shattering when a drinker slams the shot on the bar.

Further Reading: How Many Cups There Are In A Liter & How Many Oz Have In A Quart

How to Measure a Shot without a Shot Glass?

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to measure a shot, but do not have a shot glass at hand, you have a few options to choose from. Some of these tools and methods are more precise than the actual shot glass, so you might end up ditching the shot glass altogether.


Using a tablespoon

  • One tablespoon holds approximately 1/2 oz of liquid, and thus you will need three of them to replace a single shot, or six tablespoons to fill a double shot. It is not a highly precise method, though.

Using measuring spoons

  • The measuring spoon that replaces a tablespoon is a more reliable measuring tool than an actual tablespoon. The math stays the same, though: three spoons per one shot.
  • You can even utilize the small measuring spoon (teaspoon) and do the math; I’ll tell you the result right away – you’ll need nine teaspoons for one shot.

Related: Learn How To Measure With Tablespoons

Syringe / Medicine Cup

We all have some medicine cups left somewhere in our drawers. Some of us even have a syringe, just in case. The good news is that you can use both to help you accurately measure your liquor.


  • Use a 2 oz (60 ml) Syringe and the measurement lines to precisely measure 1.5 oz of liquor.

Medicine cup

  • I am sure that once you check your medicine cabinet, you will find at least one of those little plastic medicine cups (1 oz or 2 oz) in there. These cups are a perfect tool to measure your liquor as well. Once again, merely honor the measurement lines printed on the cup and pour the right amount of alcohol into your drink.

DIY Measuring Cup

In the worst-case scenario, you will have no measuring device at all. Is there something you can do? Yes, there is, but there is one condition – you have to have something with a known volume. If you do, you can use a so-called displacement method.

  • For example, an AA battery weighs 1 oz, so you can use it for this method (you can google out something else too). You’ll also need two clear plastic cups and a marker.
  • You first need to fill a clear plastic cup halfway with water and mark the level. Next, submerge the AA battery and mark the new level of the water as well. The space between these two lines measures 1 oz of liquid.
  • Take another clear cup and pour the water that was between those two lines into it. Mark the level – it is your measure for one ounce. Simple as that!
  • You can continue pouring ounces of water and marking the cup as you go on to make a valid measuring tool for various applications. That is what I call practical science! I know that my professor of physics would be proud of me now, lol. 😉

Solo Cup

  • Back in my college days, we used the red solo cups to measure our shots. This is definitely the least precise method, but you can use it in emergency situations when you have nothing more accurate at hand.
  • There was a legend back then that the lines on solo cups equal the pouring measurements of various drinks. The bottom line was the measurement for shots, the middle one for wine, and the top line was reserved for beer. We weren’t exactly mixing up the cocktails, but this measuring method came in somewhat useful at our parties.
  • I tested this method recently and concluded that the bottom line on the solo cup measures roughly 1 oz of liquor. This means that with a bit of adjustment, you can use this method to measure a 1.5 oz as well.

Free Pouring Method

If you want to impress the ladies, you can learn the free pouring method. All you need is a bit of practice and a pour spout. A small price to pay, isn’t it?

How to learn to free pour like a boss?

  • Practice with a bottle of water. Take a cup and count to four as you pour the water into it. The four-second count should give you approximately one shot of drink (1.5 oz), but you will probably not get it right on the first try.
  • Keep practicing and measure the water you poured each time until you do get it right. Adjust your counting speed for best results, practice a bit more, and you are all set.

Learn How Much Juice Contains One Lemon?


how many ounces in a shot

Now that you know the answer to the question of how many ounces in a shot, you can throw a cocktail party and exhibit your accurate pouring skills. Showcase your free pouring expertise for the ladies, and I am sure you’ll earn a few extra smiles too.

Do share this; we guys need to stick together and help each other!

Comment and share your knowledge too! 🙂

Related: Measuring How Many Oz In A Quart 

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