Is 50 ml a shot of alcohol?

Quick Answer

Typically, a standard shot of alcohol contains around 44-50 ml of liquid. So yes, 50 ml would generally be considered a full shot of spirits or liquor. However, what constitutes a standard drink or shot can vary slightly by country and market. In the United States, a standard drink contains 14 grams (0.6 oz) of pure alcohol, which is found in about 44 ml (1.5 oz) of 40% ABV spirits. The UK and EU define a standard drink as 10 grams (0.35 oz) of pure alcohol, found in 25 ml (0.8 oz) of a 40% ABV spirit. Ultimately whether 50 ml is considered a single shot depends on the alcohol percentage of the spirit and the serving size norms of the particular region.

What is Considered a Shot of Alcohol?

A shot of alcohol refers to a specific amount of distilled spirits or liquor, usually consumed as an individual serving. Shots are generally served in small, 1-2 ounce glasses designed for the purpose of taking a straight shot of undiluted liquor. Common types of liquor served as shots include:

  • Vodka
  • Tequila
  • Rum
  • Whiskey
  • Gin

There are a few factors that determine what amounts constitute a standard size shot:

  • Serving size norms: Different countries and regulatory agencies have defined standard serving sizes for alcohol. In the US, a standard drink is considered 1.5 fluid ounces or 44 ml. The UK/EU defines it as 25 ml. These serving standards influence expected shot sizes in bars and restaurants.
  • Alcohol percentage: Spirits with higher alcohol by volume (ABV) will contain more pure alcohol in a 50 ml shot compared to a lower proof liquor. So some regions adjust serving sizes based on ABV.
  • Establishment policies: Individual venues may define their own shot sizes that can be larger or smaller than the norm. This is often 1-1.5 oz in the US.
  • Cultural expectations: Some cultures tend to have larger or smaller shot sizes based on local drinking customs.

Standard Shot Sizes by Country

Here is an overview of typical shot sizes in different countries based on norms and regulations for standard alcohol servings:

Country Standard Shot Size
United States 44 ml (1.5 fl oz)
United Kingdom 25 ml (0.8 fl oz)
Canada 43 ml (1.5 fl oz)
Australia 30 ml (1 fl oz)
New Zealand 30 ml (1 fl oz)
Japan 45 ml

As you can see, a standard shot is typically between 25-50 ml depending on the country. The US and Japanese shots tend to be on the larger side, while the UK and Australian shots are smaller.

Is 50 ml a Shot in the US?

In the United States, a standard drink is defined as containing 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol. This amount of alcohol is found in the following typical serving sizes:

  • Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 mL)
  • Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 mL)
  • Spirits (40% ABV): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 mL)

So according to US alcohol serving size standards, a standard shot is 1.5 oz (44 mL). This means that 50 mL or 1.7 oz would be considered a bit larger than one shot in the US context.

However, most American bars and restaurants actually free-pour shots, meaning the bartender eyeballs a roughly standard serving size. These free-poured shots are commonly 1-1.5 oz. So in reality, a 50 ml (1.7 oz) pour would generally be seen as a standard single shot at most American venues.

Accounting for Alcohol Percentage

One thing to consider is the alcohol percentage, or proof, of the spirit. Since US standard drinks are defined as containing 0.6 oz of pure alcohol, the actual shot size may vary for spirits with higher or lower ABV:

  • 80 proof liquor (40% ABV): 0.6 oz pure alcohol = 1.5 oz shot
  • 100 proof liquor (50% ABV): 0.6 oz pure alcohol = 1.2 oz shot
  • 120 proof liquor (60% ABV): 0.6 oz pure alcohol = 1 oz shot

So if you were measuring out exact shot sizes, 50 ml of 40% liquor would contain slightly more alcohol than the US standard drink definition. But overall, 50 ml is considered a normal single shot pour in the US regardless of proof, especially in informal settings like bars and parties.

Is 50 ml a Shot in Other Countries?

Let’s look at whether 50 ml is regarded as a shot in some other countries and regions:

United Kingdom

In the UK, the chief medical officers’ guidelines define a single alcohol unit as 10ml or 8g of pure ethanol. Given this, the NHS says a single 25 ml shot of a 40% ABV spirit (such as vodka) contains one unit of alcohol.

So in the UK, 50 ml would be considered a double shot pouring to two units – more than the standard single. However, it’s common for venues to free-pour larger shots similar to the US. So 50 ml may be served as a single in informal settings.

European Union

The European Union follows recommendations that a standard drink contains about 10 ml or 10 grams of ethanol. At 40% ABV, this would equate to a 25 ml (0.8 oz) shot.

So in the EU context, a 50 ml pour would be seen as quite large for one serving. It would contain nearly 5 standard units by EU alcohol guidelines.


Australia defines a standard drink as containing 10 grams (12.5 ml) of alcohol. This equates to a 30 ml (1 fl oz) shot of 40% spirit.

As 50 ml is 1.7 fl oz, it would be considered a more generous sized single shot in Australia. But not radically larger than the norm like in Europe.


Canada follows the US standard of a typical drink containing 13.6 grams or 17.2 ml of ethanol. At 40% ABV, this suggests a 43 ml (1.5 fl oz) reference shot size.

As with the US, 50 ml would be seen as a bit larger than the technical standard in Canada. But well within the norm for a single shot in most contexts.

Typical Number of Shots in Different Drink Sizes

Assuming a typical 44 ml (1.5 oz) shot size, here is a rough guide to the number of shots contained in common liquor serving sizes:

Drink Size Number of Shots*
50 ml / 1.7 oz 1 shot
75 ml / 2.5 oz 1.5 shots
100 ml / 3.4 oz 2 shots
200 ml / 6.8 oz 4 shots
375 ml / 12.7 oz 8 shots
750 ml / 25.4 oz (fifth) 17 shots
1 liter / 33.8 oz 22 shots
1.75 liters / 59.2 oz (handle) 39 shots

*Based on a typical 44 ml / 1.5 oz shot size

Drink Sizes Can Vary

It’s important to note that actual serving sizes and liquor pouring can vary quite a bit between individual bars, restaurants, and other venues:

  • Some bars may pour larger shots, even up to 2-3 oz for a single.
  • High volume nightclubs often pour smaller shots around 1 oz.
  • Cocktails and mixed drinks can have 1-3+ shots depending on the bartender.
  • Frozen blended drinks may contain 2-4+ shots.
  • Beer serving sizes can range from 12-20+ oz depending on glassware.

The exact number of shots in a drink can be difficult to gauge when sizes are free-poured rather than precisely measured. So use the shot estimates as general guides but recognize real-world variation.

How Many Shots to Get Drunk?

On average, most people will start to feel impairment and exhibit signs of intoxication with 3-4 standard shots of liquor consumed within 1-2 hours. However, alcohol tolerance varies significantly based on:

  • Gender: Women tend to have lower tolerance.
  • Body size and weight: Larger people can drink more.
  • Age: Tolerance declines with age.
  • Food intake: Eating while drinking slows alcohol absorption.
  • Experience: Frequent drinkers build higher tolerance.
  • Genetics: Some people metabolize alcohol faster.

So there is no magic number of shots that will guarantee intoxication. But most people will get drunk drinking 3 to 5 shots in a short period on an empty stomach. Consuming shots too quickly also increases impairment as the body doesn’t have time to process the alcohol.

Number of Shots to Blackout

Memory blackouts often occur when blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds .15-.20%. For most people, this requires rapidly consuming around 6-8+ shots depending on factors like weight and tolerance. Chugging shots or drinking high ABV liquor increases blackout risk.

Overdose Risk

Consuming an excessive number of shots and acute alcohol poisoning becomes a real risk around 15-20+ drinks within several hours. This depends on the rate of drinking, ABV, and personal tolerance. But pounding back 20+ shots can be deadly due to alcohol toxicity.

Factors That Affect Intoxication Level

Simply counting the number of shots or drinks someone has consumed does not necessarily predict their level of intoxication or impairment. Some other important factors include:

  • Drinking pace – Consuming shots rapidly increases impairment vs spacing drinks out over time.
  • Concentration – Higher proof liquor contains more alcohol so fewer shots may cause drunkenness.
  • Body weight – Bigger people require more alcohol to get drunk.
  • Gender – Women typically have lower tolerance than men.
  • Food – Eating before/while drinking slows absorption.
  • Tolerance – Frequent drinkers take more alcohol to impair.
  • Medications – Some prescriptions increase effects of alcohol.
  • Fatigue – Being tired worsens effects of alcohol.

So it’s possible to get drunk on just 1-2 shots or require 6+ depending on all these mitigating factors. There is no universal “drunk number” of shots that applies equally to everyone.

Measuring and Tracking Shots

Being able to accurately gauge and track the number ounces of alcohol and shots you’ve consumed can be helpful for monitoring intake. Here are some tips:

  • Use a measured shot glass when possible instead of free pouring.
  • Read drink menus carefully for advertised shot sizes.
  • Ask bartenders exactly how large their shots are poured.
  • Estimate cocktail sizes based on the number of shots listed in the recipe.
  • Read bottle labels closely to determine the volume of individual servings.
  • Use mobile apps to log each drink and get estimates of shots and units.
  • Pace yourself to 1-2 shots per hour and track intake.

Being aware of approximately how many standard shots you’ve had over a given period of time can give you a rough sense of intoxication level based on your weight, tolerance, etc. But remember these are just guidelines and your own drunkenness symptoms are what really matter.

Ways to Drink Shots Responsibly

If consuming straight liquor shots, it’s essential to drink responsibly and moderately to avoid health and safety risks of intoxication. Here are some tips:

  • Pace yourself to 1-2 shots per hour max.
  • Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Eat food before and while drinking shots.
  • Set a limit on the number of shots you will have.
  • Avoid “bombing” multiple shots at once.
  • Stay properly hydrated with water.
  • Don’t drive any vehicle after consuming shots.
  • Don’t combine shots with other substances or mediations.

Following responsible shot drinking guidelines and paying attention to your personal tolerance and impairment level can help prevent dangerous over intoxication and related risks.

The Dangers of Excessive Shots

Consuming an extremely high number of shots, especially in a short period of time, can cause alcohol poisoning and even death in extreme cases. Potential dangers of excessive shot drinking include:

  • Blacking out
  • Vomiting
  • Severe dehydration
  • Head injury from falls
  • Dangerously slowed breathing
  • Choking on vomit
  • Seizures
  • Hypothermia
  • Coma
  • Death (BAC over .40%)

Pounding back 15-20+ shots can put even experienced drinkers at risk. Know your personal limits and watch out for extreme intoxication symptoms in yourself or others.


While there is some regional variation, a standard shot of distilled spirits or liquor is generally accepted as being between 25-50 ml (0.8-1.7 US fl oz). So in most contexts worldwide, 50 ml would be considered a normal single shot pour. However, the exact number of shots contained in a given drink size can vary quite a bit depending on the venue, bartender, and serving customs. Overall shot size is less important than pacing intake and monitoring your own intoxication level. By drinking shots sensibly and understanding your personal tolerance, it’s possible to incorporate them into a fun night out while avoiding health and safety issues related to excessive intoxication.

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