When it comes to alcohol bottle sizes, the term “handle” is commonly used to refer to a large bottle that contains 1.75 liters or 59 fluid ounces of liquor. So is a 750 ml bottle considered a handle? Let’s take a closer look at alcohol bottle sizes and terminology.
What is a 750 ml bottle?
A 750 ml bottle is a standard size for wine and liquor bottles. It contains 25.4 fluid ounces or approximately 25 1/2 shots. Some key facts about 750 ml bottles:
- 750 ml is equivalent to approximately 1/5 gallon or 0.2 gallons
- A 750 ml bottle is also known as a “fifth” due to being 1/5 of a gallon
- This size is common for wines, spirits, and liquors
- A 750 ml bottle holds around 17 standard drinks
While a 750 ml bottle is a common format, it is generally not considered a “handle” due to being smaller than the 1.75 liter (59 ounce) size typically referred to as a handle.
What qualifies as a liquor handle?
In the United States, a liquor handle refers to a 1.75 liter bottle. Some key facts on handles include:
- A handle holds 59 fluid ounces or 1.75 liters
- This size contains approximately 39 standard drinks
- The large volume earns it the “handle” nickname as it is sized for easy handling with a hand/handle
- Handles are a popular economical size for liquor and hard alcohol
So while a 750 ml bottle holds a significant volume, it is still considered a “regular” sized bottle. The larger 1.75 L bottle needed to qualify as a handle holds over twice as much liquor.
Why is 1.75 L considered a handle size?
There are a few reasons why the liquor industry and consumers adopted 1.75 liters as the defacto “handle” bottle size:
- At 1.75 L, the bottle is large enough to grasp by the neck like a handle
- The volume is substantial enough to be cost-effective for consumers
- The glass bottom is wide enough to be stable when filled with over 1.7 liters of liquid
- This size became popular during Prohibition for easier sharing/distribution
The term handle became common after the repeal of Prohibition to match the grasping hand shape commonly used to carry the 1.75 L volume bottle. While a 750 ml bottle may technically be grasped by the neck as well, it is not large enough to be traditionally considered a liquor handle.
Standard liquor bottle sizes
Beyond 750 ml and 1.75 L, there are several other common bottle sizes for wine, liquor, and spirits. Here is an overview of some standard sizes you can find:
|Miniature||50 ml||1.7 oz|
|Half pint||200 ml||6.8 oz|
|Pint||375 ml||12.7 oz|
|Fifth||750 ml||25.4 oz|
|Liter||1000 ml||33.8 oz|
|Handle||1.75 L||59.2 oz|
As shown, the 750 ml fifth and 1.75 L handle sizes are two of the most common sizes along with smaller 50 ml miniatures and 200 ml half pint sizes.
750 ml bottle examples
Given that 750 ml is one of the most ubiquitous bottle sizes, you can find many types of alcohol packaged in this format. Some examples include:
- Wine – The standard bottle size for most table wines
- Champagne – The traditional champagne bottle size
- Spirits – Many liquors like rum, vodka, tequila etc
- Liqueurs – Coffee liqueurs, fruit liqueurs, etc
- Beer – Some specialty beers are sold in 750 ml formats
- Sake – A common format for sake
- Whiskey – While 1.75 L handles are common, whiskey also comes in 750 ml
So while a 750 ml bottle is not considered a “handle”, it is a very common size that works well for packaging, shipping, and storing a wide range of alcoholic beverages from wine to spirits to beer and more.
Is a 750 ml bottle a good value?
Whether a 750 ml bottle represents a good value or not depends on the type and brand of alcohol as well as regional pricing differences. However, some general notes on the value of 750 ml bottles:
- Usually a better per-ounce value than smaller 50 ml or 200 ml sizes
- Comes in a convenient standard size for personal consumption
- More economical for some high-end spirits compared to ordering individually by the glass
- Less economical per ounce than 1.75 L handles for more budget-friendly liquor
- Allows the ability to sample a variety of types rather than buying large volumes
When looking at the potential savings of 1.75 L handles versus 750 ml bottles, consider the following comparison:
|Bottle Size||Typical Cost||Ounces||Cost per Ounce*|
|1.75 L Handle||$26.99||59.2||$0.46|
*Based on typical liquor store pricing for a major vodka brand.
Based on the cost per ounce comparison, the 1.75 L handle offers around 25% better value per ounce compared to a 750 ml fifth. However, the upfront cost of a handle may not suit all budgets, so the smaller 750 ml bottle can be more economical depending on your liquor preferences.
Factors influencing 750 ml value
Some factors that can impact the relative value of a 750 ml liquor bottle include:
- Type of alcohol – Lower priced liquors tend to have better per oz value in handles
- Shopping frequency – Buying smaller bottles allows more frequent purchases
- Sales and promotions – Specials can make 750 ml competitive or better value
- Desired variety – 750 ml allows you to sample different flavors
- Personal consumption – Bottle size should suit typical quantity consumed
For drinkers who like to enjoy a variety of flavors, make smaller liquor purchases, or appreciate the portability of a 750 ml bottle the smaller size can be an excellent value. On the other hand budget buyers who steadily consume one liquor benefit from buying in bulk 1.75L handle sizes.
Should you buy a handle over a fifth?
When deciding between purchasing a 750 ml bottle (fifth) or 1.75 L handle, there are a few factors to consider:
- If you regularly drink a particular spirit, buy the 1.75L for better value
- If switching between flavor profiles, smaller bottles allow variety
- Check promotions as fifth specials can beat handle prices
- Consider how quickly you consume alcohol when choosing volume
- Buy miniatures to trial new flavors if available
- Assess whether you have storage space for a handle
In general, buying 1.75L handles makes the most economic sense for liquor drinkers loyal to one label and comfortable buying in larger quantity. The per ounce price is very appealing, but only if you’ll actually consume 59 ounces in a reasonable timeframe. Otherwise the portability and versatility of 750ml fifths can be worth the slightly higher cost per ounce.
Tips for choosing fifths vs handles
Here are some additional tips for deciding between 750 ml and 1.75 L bottles:
- Check unit pricing on the shelf label to compare fifth vs handle per ounce costs
- Consider splitting a handle with a roommate or partner if the volume is too much
- Buy smaller 200ml or 375ml sizes to trial new flavors
- Take advantage of handle mail-in rebates that some brands offer
- Choose fifths for occasions when portability in a flask or bag is useful
- Handles may be ideal for extended trips or stocking home bars
With the right strategies, you can find situations where both fifths and handles represent a good value depending on your drinking habits and budget.
Should bars buy 750 ml bottles?
For bars, there are some advantages to stocking certain spirits and mixers in 750 ml bottles:
- Allows pour cost management by measuring exact ounce pours
- Makes it easy for bartenders to follow standardized recipes
- Provides flexibility for trying new liquor brands
- Easier to make small batch cocktails compared to large volume handles
- Allows showcasing a range of premium brands
However, for high volume and more budget-friendly drinks, 1.75L handles can help manage pour costs. Bars may want to buy certain value spirits like well vodkas in handle sizes. So the ideal bar stock combines handles for the well, 750s for the call, and smaller bottles for premium niche brands.
Tips for bars buying liquor
- Stock lower volume specialty spirits in 375ml or 750ml sizes
- Use 750ml for mixers like juices that can spoil after opening
- Buy any spirit you use for craft cocktails in 750ml format
- Get handles for well/rail spirits and mixer staples like cola
- Consider 60ml mini-bottles for schnapps and liqueurs
- Analyze sales data to determine ideal bottle size for each product
Carefully analyzing usage and sales data can help bars determine the optimal balance of fifths versus handles in their liquor inventory. This leads to efficiency both in pour costs and inventory management.
While a 750 ml liquor bottle is sometimes called a “fifth”, it does not technically qualify as a “handle” bottle. Thehandle distinction refers to the larger 1.75 liter size in the liquor industry. However, at 25.4 ounces 750 ml bottles are still a very standard and useful size. Whether buying for personal use or for a bar, 750 ml bottles can provide a versatile and affordable way to purchase wine, spirits, and other alcoholic beverages. Just be aware that the larger handles offer a better per ounce value for high volume consumption of a single liquor type.