Can 1 shot of tequila get you drunk?

Quick Answer

It depends on a variety of factors, but generally speaking, one shot of tequila is unlikely to get most people drunk, especially if they have eaten beforehand. However, some individuals may feel intoxicated from just one shot due to lower body weight, tolerance levels, mixing with other substances, etc. The effects of alcohol vary widely between people.

What is Considered a Shot of Tequila?

A standard pour of tequila is generally considered 1.5 ounces or 44 ml. This is the typical amount dispensed when ordering a straight shot at a bar or restaurant in the United States. Technically, a proper shot of tequila is only 1 ounce or 30 ml, but bars and restaurants usually pour more generously at 1.5 ounces.

Some key facts about a standard 1.5 ounce tequila shot:

  • Contains around 97 calories
  • Typically 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof)
  • Contains around 14 grams of pure alcohol

Of course, the alcohol content can vary between tequila brands. Some are bottled at lower or higher proofs, resulting in less or more alcohol per shot. The calories and carb content may also differ slightly between brands.

How Many Shots to Get Drunk?

Many factors influence how many shots it takes to get drunk, including:

  • Body weight – Smaller people feel the effects sooner.
  • Gender – Women tend to get drunk faster than men.
  • Food intake – Eating before drinking slows absorption.
  • Tolerance – Frequent drinkers require more to feel drunk.
  • Speed of drinking – Faster consumption increases intoxication.
  • Hydration levels – Being dehydrated increases effects.

As a rough guideline based on body weight:

Body Weight # of Shots to Feel Drunk
100 lbs 1 – 2
120 lbs 2 – 3
140 lbs 3 – 4
160 lbs 4 – 5
180+ lbs 5+

However, these are just estimates. Individual responses vary greatly. Some people may feel impaired after just one shot, while others can drink several without appearing drunk.

Effects of One Shot of Tequila

So what happens after drinking a single 1.5 ounce shot of tequila? Here are some general effects:

  • Blood alcohol content rises to around 0.02% – 0.05% BAC
  • Mild relaxation and reduced inhibitions
  • Subtle impairment of reasoning and memory
  • Diminished coordination and reflexes
  • Impaired judgement and increased confidence
  • Modest increase in heart rate and body temperature

Most people would not reach legal intoxication levels (0.08% BAC) from one shot, but may start to feel subtle effects like relaxation and lowered inhibitions. Two shots in a short period could potentially bring someone near 0.08% BAC.

Of course, even at lower BAC levels, judgement and coordination can be impaired. It’s unsafe to drive after any amount of alcohol. The only way to avoid impairment is to avoid drinking entirely.

Does Eating Affect It?

Yes, food intake before drinking substantially affects the absorption and impact of alcohol. Drinking on an empty stomach results in faster absorption and more rapid intoxication.

Eating a meal before drinking slows down the passage of alcohol into the bloodstream. Food, especially foods high in protein and fat, helps soak up some of the alcohol and prevents sharp BAC spikes.

Snacking during drinking also slows the rate of alcohol absorption compared to drinking on an empty stomach.

However, food only delays and slightly reduces intoxication levels. It does not prevent impairment altogether. Only time sobers someone up, not food. But eating does help mitigate some effects.

Impact of Body Weight and Gender

Body weight and biological sex significantly influence alcohol’s effects.

Due to differences in water to fat ratios, womenreach higher BAC levels than men of equal weight after matching drinks. Women also have lower levels of enzymes that metabolize alcohol.

For example, a 120 lb woman who consumed 1 shot of tequila would likely have a BAC around 0.04%, while a 160 lb man would be closer to 0.02% BAC from the same drink.

Additionally, smaller framed individuals will feel a shot more than larger people. Someone who is 100 lbs has less blood and body mass for the alcohol to distribute into. This causes their BAC to rise faster with less alcohol consumed.

Role of Tolerance

Regular drinkers develop improved alcohol tolerance over time. This means they require more drinks to become impaired compared to occasional drinkers due to adaptations like increased metabolizing enzymes.

Someone with no prior drinking experience may feel dizzy and buzzed after one standard shot. On the other hand, those who drink daily may not even get buzzed from one shot.

This tolerance declines rapidly in just a few days of abstinence. But those who drink heavily develop high short-term tolerances that reduce drunkenness.

Tequila vs Other Types of Alcohol

There are no major differences in the intoxicating effects of tequila versus other spirits like vodka, rum, whiskey, etc. when consumed in equal volumes.

A standard shot contains the same alcohol ounces and produces the same BAC. The main difference is that some darker spirits like whiskey contain added congeners that may worsen hangovers. But the acute intoxication levels are similar.

Some people claim tequila makes them act wild and crazy or get drunk faster. But human trials show no difference in behavioral effects between tequila and other spirits. The perception is likely psychological rather than pharmacological.

One key difference is carbonation. Carbonated mixed drinks like champagne absorb faster than cocktails. Drinkers should be mindful of this when pacing consumption. But overall, a shot is a shot in terms of intoxication, regardless of the alcohol source.

Can Mixers or Dilution Change Effects?

Yes, adding mixers like juice, soda or tonic water to a shot of alcohol does dilute the overall alcohol content slightly. This may slow the rate of intoxication.

However, once in the stomach, the body absorbs the alcohol from mixes at roughly the same speed. An alcohol-juice combo still delivers the same alcohol dose as a neat shot.

Some researchers even found vodka mixed with soda resulted in slightly higher BACs than neat vodka. This may be because the sweetness makes people drink more quickly.

So while mixers may provide more volume and slow sipping, they do not significantly change how shots impact BAC and impairment. Moderation is still key.

Impact on Hangovers

Interestingly, hangovers do not strictly depend on intoxication levels. A person can drink only 1 or 2 drinks, stay under legal limits, and still experience headaches, nausea and drowsiness the next day.

Hangovers are not just caused by alcohol itself. Congeners in drinks, dehydration levels, ingredients in mixers and individual biological factors also influence hangovers.

While a single shot may not make someone legally drunk, many people still report at least mild hangover symptoms the next day after just 1-2 drinks. Severe hangovers are more likely after higher alcohol volumes.

What About Lower Weight Individuals?

For very petite individuals, especially females under 5 feet tall and 100 lbs, even one shot of liquor may potentially cause intoxication over 0.08% BAC.

At just 90 lbs, a female could reach 0.10% BAC from one shot. Some medical experts define “binge drinking” for women as 4 or more drinks, and just 3 for men, within 2 hours due to gender differences in intoxication.

While many standard size adults can metabolize one shot with minimal impairment, smaller individuals should exercise greater caution due to increased effects from lower body mass. Eating beforehand and extending drink time can help reduce risk.

Does Tequila Impact Memory Differently?

No, tequila does not cause worse memory impairments than other spirits. Controlled studies found vodka, gin, rum, whiskey and tequila all produced similar deficits in short-term memory, working memory and recall accuracy when tested after consumption.

However, at higher volumes, all types of liquor can produce partial blackouts where memories are unable to form due to intoxication. People may also falsely attribute embarrassing behavior from heavy drinking to the specific spirit, when really any liquor can reduce inhibitions.

But overall, tequila does not uniquely impact memory versus other alcoholic beverages. Any spirit consumed irresponsibly in excess can lead to blackouts and memory dysfunction. Moderation is key.

Does a Shot of Tequila Make You Drunk Faster?

While some people insist tequila makes them drunk faster, this is not pharmacologically accurate when compared to other spirits. However, there are a few reasons this perception may exist:

  • Drinking tequila as shots instead of mixed drinks means faster consumption.
  • Salt and lime increase thirst and drinking speed.
  • Expectation that tequila impacts people differently.
  • Lower blood sugar from skipping meals before drinking.

In reality, a carefully paced single shot of tequila causes the same rate of intoxication as vodka, rum, gin or whiskey. But habits around how people drink it may promote more rapid consumption, leading to the perception that it gets you drunker faster.

Does a Shot on an Empty Stomach Make a Difference?

Absolutely. Drinking any amount of alcohol on an empty stomach allows for faster absorption and higher peak BAC levels compared to drinking with or after a meal.

Without food buffering it, alcohol passes quickly into the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract. Peak BAC is reached within 30-90 minutes rather than 2-3 hours.

So while one shot may not cause intoxication for most people who’ve eaten, it can certainly increase risks if consumed with an empty tank. Having meals before drinking is always wise.

What Are Signs of Intoxication From One Shot?

It takes close interpersonal observation to detect signs of impairment after just one drink. Effects are subtle. Some signs may include:

  • Decreased inhibition and increased sociability
  • Impaired judgement or reduced concentration
  • Decline in coordination, balance and reaction time
  • Modest drops in body temperature and blood sugar
  • Flushed skin, especially face and chest
  • Some slowing of reflexes and movements

However, one shot may not produce any outward signs of intoxication detectable to an observer. The drinker themselves may perceive relaxed feelings and warmth, but not appear outwardly impaired. Of course, even without signs, ability to safely operate vehicles or machinery can still be compromised.

Factors That Increase Effects of One Shot

Certain factors can strengthen the effects of a single drink, causing more intoxication than expected:

  • Drinking on empty stomach
  • Being sleep deprived
  • Dehydration
  • Smaller body size
  • Being unused to alcohol (low tolerance)
  • Using medications or drugs that interact
  • Genetic variations in alcohol metabolism

Under these conditions, even one standard drink may produce outsized effects. Individuals should know their limits and drink carefully when these factors are present.

Can One Shot Cause Blackouts?

Extremely unlikely. Full blackouts primarily occur after rapid consumption of high BAC levels, usually upwards of 0.20%. One shot of liquor alone cannot bring BAC close to typical blackout range, unless other factors like small body weight are at play.

However, “greyouts” or fragmentary blackouts can possibly begin around 0.10-0.15% BAC. In these cases, memories become spotty and episodic after drinking. Heavy drinkers develop higher resistance to fragmentary blackouts as well.

So while very heavy alcohol abuse is associated with complete memory loss, one standard drink is highly unlikely to produce amnesia on its own. But effects vary between individuals, so nothing can be ruled out entirely. Moderation is wise.

Does Tequila Sober You Up Faster?

No scientific evidence shows tequila wears off faster than other distilled spirits. All contain ethanol which follows similar metabolic pathways. However, some variables give the illusion of tequila sobering quicker:

  • Drinking without food leads to rapid peaks then drops in BAC.
  • Adding lime juice increases hydration which speeds metabolism.
  • The energy and dance atmosphere around drinking tequila.

While tequila may appear to produce a shorter “buzz”, in fact it does not actually accelerate ethanol clearance from the blood any differently than vodka or whiskey. Any perceived difference stems from situational variables and mental expectations.

Can Death Occur After One Shot?

Extremely unlikely, but in theory not impossible depending on the circumstance. For average healthy adults, death solely from the alcohol in one shot would be highly improbable and unprecedented.

However, certain situations where death could plausibly result include:

  • Drinking then operating vehicles/machinery in an impaired state.
  • Interacting the shot with medications, drugs or health conditions negatively.
  • Choking while drinking or vomiting after taking the shot.
  • Severe allergenic reaction, though rare with distilled spirits.

So while directly dying from the metabolic effects of one standard drink is nearly impossible, it cannot be ruled out when combined with risky behaviors, interactions or accidents. Moderation and common sense reduce odds of harm occurring.

Does Liver Metabolism Play a Role?

Yes, the speed at which alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes in the liver break down ethanol plays a major role. This impacts the intoxication level that results from one drink.

Some people produce less of these enzymes or have variations that make them less efficient. For these groups, even one drink metabolizes slower, causing higher BACs and stronger effects.

The opposite also occurs. Heavy regular drinkers induce higher levels of metabolizing enzymes. They break down alcohol faster, resulting in less impairment per drink.

So liver metabolism explains why responses vary widely – a shot may mildly affect some while significantly impairing others. Overall liver health impacts this as well.


In summary, for most healthy moderate drinkers, one standard shot of tequila is unlikely to cause intoxication on its own. However, it can certainly produce initial feelings of relaxation and lowered inhibitions.

Many factors like body weight, biological sex, food intake, fatigue and tolerance levels influence how severely a single shot affects someone. Tequila does not produce unique effects compared to other spirits in equal volumes.

While one shot may not seem like much alcohol, promoting moderation and accountability around any drinking is always wise. Impairment and risks exist on a spectrum, and can begin with even subtle intoxication. Individuals should know their limits and exercise caution.

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