We’ve all been there. You’re out with your friends on a Friday night, you’ve gone to dinner, and now the drinks have been flowing for a few hours. Suddenly, the moment arrives when your friend declares that each member of your group simply must take a shot. Bellying up to the bar, shortly after a shot glass brimming with your favorite — or more likely your friend’s favorite — spirit is thrusted into your hand and a crowd of people are cheering you on as your toss it back.
Chances are this Friday night occurrence isn’t the first time you’ve taken a shot in your life. However, what you may not have noticed is that the shot you were just handed is a slightly different size than the one that came with your beer at your local dive last week. And that one was a lot smaller than the one you got on your last trip to Tokyo, but somehow a lot bigger than the one you had in Berlin a few years before that.
When it comes to assessing how many ounces in a shot, you may think that a shot of whiskey is a shot of whiskey no matter where in the world you are. This assumption would be short sighted, however, as shot glass size actually varies country to country. The reason why is fairly simply: where jiggers were invented to measure out spirits for cocktails and mixed drinks, no real, standard size shot glass was ever implemented, and certainly has never been used behind a bar. While a nightlife staple today, shots really didn’t emerge as a way of consuming spirits until the 1930s. Prior to then, spirits were often consumed either in cocktails or from normal-sized or “whiskey taster” glasses, similar to the Glencairn glasses we are familiar with today.
So then how big is a shot? As a standard size shot glass was never developed, the exact size of a shot also varies country to country. That could be because while most countries choose to use the metric system, where liquid is measured in milliliters, the United States — along with Liberia and Myanmar — opt for the Imperial system, which measures liquid in ounces. As such, where a standard shot size in the U.S. amounts to approximately 1.48 ounces, or about 44 milliliters, the U.K.’s standard shot size is just 25 milliliters, just about half the size.
Another reason why shot sizes differ around the world is perhaps a bit simpler and just comes down to how much alcohol government’s deem safe to consume. For example, here in the U.S. 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits are deemed a standard drink while Australia’s measure sits at just 1 ounce.
In assessing shot glass ounces from around the world, you’ll oftentimes find that countries in similar regions have similar guidelines. Take the Eastern European countries of Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania, and Russia for example, each of which recommends serving shots — probably vodka — at a stiff 1.69 ounces. For an example closer to home, our norther neighbor’s standard shot size arrives at 1.44 ounces, only slightly less than the U.S.’s 1.48.
So, how big is a shot glass actually? Shot glass ounces, or volumes, start around 0.67 ounces, which you can find in places like Denmark and Germany. Of the countries we assessed, Italy, Japan, and Israel enjoy the largest shot sizes in the world, dishing out just over 2 ounces per serving. However, while these countries may be on each end of the spectrum, most countries shot sizes sit between 1 and 1.5 ounces.
How Big Is a Shot Glass?
|United Kingdom, South Africa
|Australia, India, Serbia
|Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Poland
|Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania, Russia
|Italy, Japan, Israel