Is 50 ml a full shot?

When pouring alcoholic drinks like spirits, liqueurs, or mixed cocktails, it’s important to know what constitutes a standard drink size or “shot.” This allows you to control portions and achieve the desired strength and flavor profile in a drink. A common point of confusion is whether a 50 ml pour qualifies as a full single shot. Let’s take a detailed look at shot sizes, how they relate to different types of drinks, and where 50 ml stands.

What is a standard shot size?

A standard full shot is generally defined as 1.5 fluid ounces or 44 ml. This is the most widely accepted single serving size of straight spirits like whiskey, vodka, rum, tequila, and gin. Under U.S. law, this amount of 40% ABV liquor contains roughly 0.6 ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol. The 1.5 ounce/44 ml measure is therefore used for portion control and evaluating alcohol strength. Many shot glasses are designed to hold exactly this volume.

However, shot sizes can vary considerably around the world. In Japan and Portugal, shots may be as small as 30 ml, while in Australia and Russia they can be 45-50 ml. The U.S., UK, Canada, and many European countries use the 1.5 ounce/44 ml standard, but deviations aren’t uncommon even within the same country. Specialty shot glasses might hold 1 ounce, 2 ounces, or even more. The type of liquor also impacts expected serving size.

Shot sizes for different drinks

Straight spirits – The standard 44 ml/1.5 oz shot is most often applied to high-proof liquors like vodka, rum, tequila, whiskey, etc. This provides a decent amount of alcohol per serving while limiting intoxication and waste from larger pours.

Cordial and liqueur – These lighter, sweetened spirits like Bailey’s, Campari, and Schnapps more commonly have a 30 ml or 1 oz standard shot. Their sugar content means smaller quantities tend to suffice.

Fortified wines – Port, sherry, and vermouth are sometimes served in 45-60 ml/1.5-2 oz shots rather than wine-sized pours. This better controls the higher alcohol levels.

Cocktails – Mixed drinks can use anything from a 30 ml jigger to a 45 ml measure of base spirit(s), depending on the desired strength. Complex craft cocktails may have 2 oz or more of total liquor.

Beer and wine – Shots of these lower-ABV beverages are rare. But a 44 ml shot of wine or sake is occasionally served for tasting purposes. 1.5 oz beer “nips” are also sold in some regions.

So while 44 ml/1.5 oz is the gold standard for full shots of straight spirits, many drinks have their own distinct shot measurements. The alcohol content, drink style, glassware, and regional customs all impact serving sizes.

Is a 50 ml shot a full shot?

With this context on shot sizes in mind, where does a 50 ml pour fit in? Here are a few key points:

– At 50 ml, a shot is slightly larger than the common 44 ml/1.5 oz full shot. It contains almost 10% more liquor.

– In some countries like Australia and Russia, 50 ml is actually the defined standard for straight spirit shots.

– Even in places that use 44 ml/1.5 oz, 50 ml is generally accepted as a full, normal shot for drinking straight liquor like whiskey or tequila. The difference is small.

– If consumed quickly, a 50 ml shot will have largely the same intoxicating effect as 44 ml due to the high alcohol concentration. The impact on blood alcohol level won’t increase much with the extra 6 ml.

– For cordials, liqueurs, fortified wines and cocktails, a 50 ml shot may be considered large. These drinks often use 25-45 ml measures per serving.

So in summary, while 44 ml or 1.5 ounces is the technically defined amount, a 50 ml pour can reasonably be treated as a standard full shot for most straight spirits like vodka, gin, or bourbon. The difference is marginal enough that 50 ml fills the common shot glass. For other, lighter alcoholic drinks, it might be on the large side and should be considered more than a single serving.

How 50 ml compares to other common shot sizes

To further understand where a 50 ml shot fits in, here’s a look at how it compares to some other typical shot volumes:

25 ml – A 25 ml or 0.8 oz shot is smaller than standard. This is commonly used for high-sugar liqueurs which need less volume. A 50 ml shot contains 100% more liquid.

30 ml – This “small” shot is still 67% smaller than 50 ml. 30 ml is popular for sweet cordials and in some countries as a spirits serving.

44 ml – As already covered, the 1.5 oz/44 ml shot is the defined standard in many countries. 50 ml has 14% more volume.

60 ml – In some regions a 60 ml or 2 oz pour qualifies as a shot for spirits. A 50 ml shot has about 17% less liquid.

90 ml – While far less common today, a 90 ml or 3 oz shot was historically the old-fashioned serving of straight whiskey or vodka. A 50 ml shot is around 44% smaller.

So you can see 50 ml falls in the middle ground – certainly larger than a small/medium shot but smaller than a double or oversized shot. In terms of pure alcohol, it’s functionally very close to that 44 ml gold standard for a full single serving of spirits.

Factors that determine standard shot sizes

Now that we’ve looked closely at how a 50 ml shot compares to other volumes, what actually determines these standard serving sizes for shots and why do certain volumes become common convention? Here are some of the key factors:

Alcohol content

The alcohol percentage or proof of the particular spirit heavily dictates how much liquid makes up a shot. Higher proof spirits need less volume to deliver the same alcohol quantity, hence shots trend smaller for overproof liquors. Lower proof drinks require larger pours to provide a comparable alcohol dose.


The flavor intensity of the liquor also plays a role. Sweeter liqueurs or more pungently flavored spirits like absinthe may be served in smaller shots to avoid overpowering the palate in larger quantities.

Cash value

In bars and restaurants, the standard shot volume also takes into account profit margins. A venue may define shots based on the amount of liquor they can reasonably charge for as a single serving while making their desired profit on each drink.

Locality and customs

As noted earlier, shot sizes adhere to tradition and norms that develop regionally over time around different spirit types. Certain volumes become broadly accepted through convention.

Government regulation

In some countries, shot sizes and serving standards are legally defined. For instance, Russia regulates vodka shots at 50 ml. The EU has reference shot amounts based on alcohol content.

Glassware design

Commercially available glassware shapes capacity and functionality. Standardized shot glasses that hold ~44 ml reinforce this as a conventional single serving amount.

So in summary, while 1.5 ounces/44 ml may be codified as the standard spirits shot in many places, factors from alcohol strength, to taste, to glassware design, and more contribute to popular notions of shot sizes. This leads to some variance worldwide, where 50 ml can constitute a full serving in some contexts.

The potential effects of 50 ml shots

Determining standard drink sizes isn’t just an abstract exercise – shot volumes have real impacts on drinking behaviors and health:


At 50 ml, straight 80 proof liquor shots provide nearly as much alcohol per serving as 44 ml shots. This means their potential intoxicating effect is functionally similar. For perspective, three 50 ml shots of 40% ABV vodka would put a typical male drinker near or above 0.08% BAC, over the U.S. legal driving limit. So 50 ml should not be viewed as a more “responsible” volume in terms of impairment.


If treated as standard single servings, 50 ml shots may promote faster and more dangerous overdrinking compared to slightly smaller 44 ml shots. Their slightly larger volume can lead drinkers to underestimate intake. Studies show serving size powerfully impacts consumption volume – even modest increases well beyond “standard” single servings can dramatically increase overall intake.

Expected effects

Research shows the expected stimulating or sedating effects anticipated from upcoming alcohol consumption also influence subsequent intake. So if 50 ml shots are perceived as lower dose “starter” servings, they could potentially prompt more rapid drinking compared to more satiating 44 ml shots.

Cost efficiency

For bars and restaurants, designating 50 ml as a standard single shot allows for more efficient liquor pouring and cost control compared to precise 44 ml measures. But this volume preference is based on business profits rather than patron safety.

So in summary, while 50 ml shots are only marginally larger than common 44 ml serving sizes, this small increase could potentially have outsized impacts on drinking behaviors, leading to harmful overconsumption. Their subtly expanded volume requires caution.

How to practice moderation with 50 ml shots

Based on the potential risks outlined above, here are some tips for exercising moderation if drinking 50 ml shots:

– Treat each 50 ml shot as a full standard drink rather than a “small” or “half” shot. Don’t multiply intake.

– For liquor, try not to regularly exceed 2-3 50 ml shots in a single session.

– For a host, clearly communicate 50 ml as the serving size to guests to avoid overpouring and normalize this volume.

– Over time, gradually reduce your serving size closer to 44 ml/1.5 oz to lower your drink volume and alcohol consumption.

– Be sure to dilute liquor with water and food between 50 ml shots – don’t take them rapidly in succession.

– Consider using lower alcohol liquors in place of overproof spirits if doing 50 ml shots.

– For cocktails, err toward a single 44 ml liquor pour per mixed drink rather than multiples of 50 ml.

– Monitor your intake carefully and stop drinking immediately if you feel excessive intoxication.

– Use a measuring jigger for carefully monitoring and controlling 50 ml shot volumes. Don’t eyeball free pours.

Exercising caution and restraint with 50 ml shot service can help mitigate risks of overintoxication. But ideally, when possible, it’s advisable to treat the slightly smaller 44 ml/1.5 oz measure as your standard maximum single spirit serving for moderation.

The bottom line

So in summary, while national and international health bodies define a standard drink shot as 44 ml or 1.5 ounces of liquor, a 50 ml pour is generally accepted in practice as a full single serving of straight spirits like whiskey, vodka or tequila. This is due to the marginally higher volume fitting common shot glass sizes and minor differences in alcohol content. However, the slightly expanded 50 ml volume requires caution, as even small increases beyond nominally “standard” single serving sizes can potentially lead to overconsumption and intoxication if multiplied. But overall, in most drinking contexts, a 50 ml shot reasonably constitutes a full single spirit serving rather than a double. Moderation is still required.

Key takeaways:

– The globally accepted standard shot is 44 ml or 1.5 ounces, containing 14 grams of alcohol.

– However, 50 ml is a common serving size, especially in parts of Europe and Australia.

– While slightly bigger, 50 ml is functionally similar to 44 ml in alcohol content for 80 proof liquors.

– Take care to treat 50 ml as a full single serving, not a “small” shot. Be very wary of multiplying intake.

– Ideally, work your way down to 44 ml as your maximum alcohol serving for proper moderation.

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