Is a shot of alcohol 1 or 2 oz?

When it comes to alcoholic drinks, the standard size for a shot can vary depending on the type of liquor and the regulations in different areas. In the United States, a shot is generally defined as 1.5 ounces or 44 ml of distilled spirits or liquor such as vodka, rum, whiskey, or tequila. However, some places may pour shots that are 1 ounce or 1.25 ounces. The exact amount can also depend on the type of shot glass used.

Key Facts on Standard Alcohol Shot Sizes

Here are some key facts on standard shot sizes for alcoholic drinks:

  • A standard shot in the U.S. is 1.5 fluid ounces or 44 ml.
  • A pony shot is 1 fluid ounce or 30 ml.
  • A double shot is 2 fluid ounces or 60 ml.
  • A metric shot is 50 ml which is 1.7 fluid ounces.
  • In Australia and New Zealand, a standard drink is defined as 10 grams of alcohol which equates to 30 ml or 1 fluid ounce.
  • In Japan, a standard drink is 25 ml or 0.8 fluid ounces.
  • In the UK, a single shot is 25 ml or 0.8 fluid ounces.
  • In Canada, a standard drink is 17.05 ml or 0.6 fluid ounces.

So while there are some variations around the world, the most common standard shot size in the U.S. is 1.5 fluid ounces or 44 ml. A pony shot would be 1 fluid ounce and a double shot 2 fluid ounces. Shots may be slightly smaller or larger depending on the exact pour.

Typical Alcohol Percentages of Different Spirits

The alcohol percentage, or alcohol by volume (ABV), varies for different types of distilled spirits. This determines the amount of pure alcohol in each standard 1.5 oz shot. Here are typical ABVs for common liquors:

  • Vodka – 40% ABV
  • Gin – 40-50% ABV
  • Rum – 40-50% ABV
  • Tequila – 40-50% ABV
  • Whiskey – 40-60% ABV
  • Brandy – 35-60% ABV

Based on the typical alcohol content, this means a 1.5 ounce shot of 80 proof (40% ABV) vodka would contain about 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol.

How Much Alcohol is in a Standard Drink?

According to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a standard drink is defined as:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer at about 5% alcohol
  • 8-9 ounces of malt liquor at about 7% alcohol
  • 5 ounces of wine at about 12% alcohol
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits at about 40% alcohol

Each of these standard drink sizes contains approximately 0.6 ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol. This is the amount of ethanol or ethyl alcohol.

So while beer, wine, and mixed drinks can vary in alcohol content, a 1.5 ounce shot of distilled spirits at 40% ABV will always have about 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol, no matter what type of liquor.

Factors That Influence Actual Alcohol Content

There are some factors that can influence the actual amount of alcohol in a shot or cocktail:

  • Pouring: The exact amount poured into a shot glass can vary depending on the pourer and the accuracy of the pour. A heavy-handed bartender may over pour.
  • Dilution: Shots are usually consumed undiluted but cocktails contain mixers that dilute the alcohol percentage.
  • ABV: The alcohol percentage can vary between brands of liquor from 30% up to 95% ABV for some specialty spirits.
  • Shot glass: The size and shape of the shot glass used can account for variations in volume.

While 1.5 ounces is a typical shot, taking all these factors into account means the actual amount of alcohol consumed can vary from around 0.5 ounces to upwards of 2 ounces for a very strong pour.

State and Local Alcohol Laws on Shot Sizes

In addition to the federal standard drink definition, some U.S. states and local governments have regulations on standard shot sizes that can be served. For example:

  • Utah – shots limited to 1 ounce
  • Washington D.C. – shots must be at least 1.5 ounces
  • Nevada – shots limited to 1.5 ounces of primary liquor only
  • Oregon – maximum shot size is 2.5 ounces

These laws are intended to regulate the amount of alcohol served per drink. However, not every state has specific pour limits for shots. The standard U.S. definition of 1.5 ounces is used in most areas.

Why Shots are Typically 1.5 Ounces

There are a few reasons why 1.5 ounces became the standard shot size in the United States:

  • It provides a decent amount of liquor to enjoy the flavor and feel the effects.
  • A 1.5 ounce shot contains approximately one U.S. standard drink size (14g of alcohol).
  • The volume fits well into a typical 1.5-2 ounce shot glass.
  • It allows for consistent pours and measures in bartending.
  • It provides control over serving sizes for responsible alcohol consumption.

In some countries, shot sizes are even smaller for control over alcohol intake. But 1.5 ounces balances enjoying the liquor’s taste and potency when shooting it or mixing in cocktails.

Typical Shot Glass Sizes

Shot glasses are available in a few different standard sizes that correspond to typical shot amounts:

  • 1 ounce pony shot glass
  • 1.5 ounce standard shot glass
  • 2 ounce double shot glass

The most common shot glass size used at bars and restaurants holds 1.5 to 2 ounces. This allows a proper full measure for a standard 1.5 oz shot. The glass is also large enough so the liquor can be measured and poured precisely without overflowing.

Specialty Shot Sizes

Besides the standard amounts, some specialty shot sizes include:

  • Pony shot – 1 fluid ounce
  • Double shot – 2 fluid ounces
  • Tall shot – 1.25-1.75 ounces; taller/narrower glass
  • Cordial glass – 0.5-1 ounce
  • Mexican Shot – 0.66 fluid ounces; popular for tequila

The pony and double are probably the most popular non-standard shot amounts. A pony is for those who want a bit less liquor while a double packs an extra punch.

How Many Shots to Reach Specific Blood Alcohol Levels

The number of shots needed to reach certain blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels depends on factors like gender, weight, and time drinking. However, here are some general estimates for the number of 1.5 oz shots to reach certain BACs for an average size person:

BAC # Standard Shots Effects
0.02% 1-2 Mild relaxation
0.05% 2-3 More outgoing
0.08% 3-4 Impaired coordination
0.10% 4-5 Clearly intoxicated
0.15% 5-7 Nausea, vomiting
0.30% 9-12 Loss of consciousness
0.40%+ 12+ Potentially fatal

As a general guideline, approximately 4-5 standard shots consumed within an hour will have most people over 0.08% BAC which is legally intoxicated in the U.S. However, there are many variables from person to person, so these numbers are just estimates.


In summary, the standard shot size in the U.S. is generally considered 1.5 fluid ounces or 44 ml. This contains about 0.6 ounces or 14 grams of pure ethanol alcohol. However, shot sizes can range from 1 ounce ponies to 2 ounce doubles depending on local laws and serving preferences. While many factors influence blood alcohol level, a good rule of thumb is that 4-5 standard shots within an hour will put most people over the legal limit for intoxication. So enjoy your spirits responsibly by keeping within recommended shot guidelines.

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