How many drinks is in a shot of vodka?

Vodka is one of the most popular spirits worldwide, known for its versatility in cocktails and is often consumed as shots. But how much alcohol is actually in a typical vodka shot? Here is a detailed look at what counts as a shot, how much alcohol it contains, and how it compares to a standard drink.

What is Considered a Shot of Vodka?

A standard shot of vodka in the United States is generally recognized as 1.5 ounces or 44 milliliters. This is the typical pour that you would be served at a bar or restaurant if you ordered a straight vodka shot.

Some bars may pour heavier 2 ounce shots, while controlled shots like those dispensed from machines in clubs may be 1 ounce. But the most common is the 1.5 ounce pour.

Shot Amount Ounces Milliliters
Standard Vodka Shot 1.5 44
Heavy Pour Shot 2.0 59
Controlled Shot 1.0 30

As you can see, the standard shot is 1.5 ounces or 44 ml. So if someone asks you for a shot of vodka, this is generally what would be poured.

How Much Alcohol is in a Shot of Vodka?

Now that we know what constitutes a vodka shot, how much pure alcohol does that actually contain? To determine this, we first need to know the typical alcohol by volume (ABV) of vodka.

The ABV of vodka usually ranges between 35% to 50%. By law in the United States, vodka must contain a minimum of 40% ABV to be classified as vodka. Most major vodka brands like Smirnoff, Absolut, and Tito’s are sold at 40% alcohol.

Knowing this ABV, we can calculate how much pure alcohol is in a standard 1.5 ounce vodka shot:

  • 1.5 oz shot of vodka
  • 40% alcohol by volume (0.40)
  • 1.5 * 0.4 = 0.6 oz of pure alcohol

So in a typical single shot of vodka, there is 0.6 fluid ounces or 18 milliliters of pure alcohol.

Alcohol Content Examples

Vodka Brand ABV Alcohol per Shot
Smirnoff 40% 0.6 oz
Ketel One 40% 0.6 oz
Belvedere 40% 0.6 oz
Grey Goose 40% 0.6 oz
Absolut 40% 0.6 oz
Skyy 40% 0.6 oz
Tito’s 40% 0.6 oz

As you can see from the table, despite differences in price and branding, most popular vodka brands contain around 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol per 1.5 ounce shot due to having a similar 40% ABV.

How it Compares to a Standard Drink

Knowing a shot of vodka contains 0.6 ounces of alcohol, how does this compare to a standard drink? According to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a standard drink contains 0.6 ounces (14 grams) of pure alcohol.

This means a 1.5 ounce shot of 40% vodka equals one standard U.S. drink. Some key equivalencies include:

  • 12 oz regular beer = 5% ABV = 0.6 oz alcohol
  • 5 oz wine = 12% ABV = 0.6 oz alcohol
  • 1.5 oz spirits = 40% ABV = 0.6 oz alcohol

So whether it’s beer, wine, or spirits, a standard drink always contains around 0.6 ounces of alcohol despite differences in serving sizes and ABV. This makes it easy to track your alcohol consumption and define moderation based on the Dietary Guidelines.

Standard Drink Examples

Drink Serving Size ABV Alcohol Content
Beer 12 oz 5% 0.6 oz
Wine 5 oz 12% 0.6 oz
Spirits 1.5 oz 40% 0.6 oz

So in summary, a single shot of vodka equals one standard drink containing 0.6 ounces or 14 grams of alcohol. This makes it easy to monitor your alcohol consumption whether drinking shots, cocktails, wine or beer.

How Many Standard Drinks in Multiple Shots?

Now that we know a vodka shot equals one standard drink, it’s easy to calculate the number of standard drinks when taking multiple shots or large servings.

For example:

  • 1 shot = 1 standard drink
  • 2 shots = 2 standard drinks
  • 3 shots = 3 standard drinks

Or for larger mixed drink servings:

  • Double 3 oz vodka drink = 2 standard drinks
  • Triple 4 oz vodka drink = 3 standard drinks

Understanding standard drink sizes allows you to track your alcohol intake and adhere to low risk drinking limits:

  • For women, low risk = 3 standard drinks or less per day
  • For men, low risk = 4 standard drinks or less per day

And for weekly limits:

  • For women, low risk = 7 standard drinks or less per week
  • For men, low risk = 14 standard drinks or less per week

So if you’re drinking vodka, sticking within recommended limits is as easy as counting your shots or drink servings and converting to standard drinks. Moderation is key to reducing health risks associated with excess alcohol consumption.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

In addition to standard drink sizes, blood alcohol concentration is also useful for monitoring intoxication levels based on the number of drinks consumed.

BAC measures the percentage of alcohol in your bloodstream and correlates to observable effects of intoxication:

  • 0.02% – Mild relaxation and mood enhancement
  • 0.05% – More outgoingness and confidence
  • 0.08% – Impaired coordination and judgment
  • 0.10% – Clearly drunk with slowed reactions
  • 0.15% – Blackouts, vomiting, loss of balance likely

While BAC depends on many individualized factors like weight, gender and metabolism, a rough estimate is:

  • 1 standard drink may lead to 0.02% BAC
  • 2 standard drinks may lead to 0.05% BAC
  • 3+ standard drinks may lead to 0.08% BAC or higher

So for a 180 lb male, three vodka shots consumed in one hour may lead to a BAC around 0.08%, reaching legal intoxication levels.

However, because so many variables affect BAC, the only sure way to monitor intoxication is by how you feel. So pace yourself when drinking shots or cocktails based on how you feel rather than relying on raw BAC numbers.

Other Considerations

When estimating standard drinks in vodka shots, here are some other factors to keep in mind:

Shot Glass Size

Make sure your shot glasses hold exactly 1.5 ounces. Oversized 2 ounce shot glasses will pour 33% more alcohol per drink, leading to underestimating your intake.

Drink Strength

Watch out for high proof specialty vodkas above 40% ABV, which alter standard drink amounts. For example, a 60% ABV vodka would equal 1 standard drink in a single 1 oz shot.

Mixers & Garnishes

Mixers like juice, soda or tonic add volume without additional alcohol, so your cocktail may contain 1.5 oz spirit plus 4-6 oz mixer. Tracking standard drinks in cocktails requires knowing the alcohol amount before mixers.

The same applies to garnishes like lime wedges or olives – they contribute flavor but no additional alcohol.

Shooters & Layered Shots

Shooters and stacked shots with multiple spirits need to be added up. For example, a B-52 shooter contains Kahlua, Bailey’s and Grand Marnier, equaling around 3 standard drinks total.

Time & Food

Your BAC peaks around 30-90 minutes after your last drink. Eating a meal before or while drinking slows down alcohol absorption.

So be especially careful taking shots on an empty stomach – you may feel sober initially then have alcohol effects hit you hard later on.


To summarize, a standard vodka shot equals one standard drink or 0.6 ounces / 14 grams of alcohol. This makes it easy to track your alcohol consumption by counting shots, cocktails or mixed drinks and converting to standard drink sizes.

Understanding how many standard drinks are in vodka shots or cocktails allows you to monitor your alcohol intake and drink responsibly within low risk limits. While many factors influence intoxication levels, pacing yourself based on standard drink sizes is a simple way to drink moderately and reduce health risks.

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