Is a shot of liquor 2 oz?

When it comes to pouring a shot of liquor, there are differing opinions on exactly how much liquor constitutes a standard “shot.” While some argue that a shot should always be 1.5 ounces, many others insist that the standard shot size is 2 ounces. So what’s the definitive answer? Let’s take a closer look at the debate surrounding shot sizes.

The History of the Shot Glass

To understand the current debate over shot sizes, it helps to look at the history of the shot glass itself. Shot glasses likely originated in the 1800s as a way to precisely measure out a single serving of liquor. They were popularized during the Prohibition era in the 1920s when people began drinking illegally in speakeasies. The earliest shot glasses held approximately 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Over time, shot glass sizes grew. By the 1970s and 80s, many shot glasses held 2 ounces or more. Shots gained a reputation as a quick, high alcohol way to get drunk. Larger shot glasses facilitated this by allowing more liquor per pour.

So while early shot glasses were 1.5 oz, modern shot glasses gradually increased to 2 ounces or larger. This evolution helps explain the disagreement over what true “shot” size is today.

The 1.5 Ounce “Shot”

Despite the proliferation of larger 2 oz shot glasses, many bartenders and liquor connoisseurs argue that a shot should always be 1.5 oz. Their rationale is that this was the original shot size, so it’s the most traditional definition. They view 2 oz shots as oversized.

There are also practical reasons for the 1.5 oz standard. This smaller shot size makes it easier to monitor alcohol consumption and avoid overindulgence. Counting “drinks” becomes more accurate when sticking to a 1.5 oz shot.

From a business perspective, some bartenders prefer 1.5 oz shots since they yield higher profits from increased liquor sales. Customers are more likely to buy multiple shots if they are smaller.

Overall, the 1.5 oz supporters argue that this is the true, original shot size that has historical precedent on its side. In their view, 2 oz shots are more like “double shots.”

The 2 Ounce “Shot”

On the other side of the debate are those who consider 2 ounces to be the standard shot size. Advocates of this position point out that most modern shot glasses sold are 2 oz in size. This implies that customers expect shots to be filled to the brim when served.

The popularity of larger shot glasses normalized the expectation of 2 oz shots. Even though early shots were 1.5 oz, culture and consumer behavior shifted over many decades to see 2 oz as the norm.

There are also practical reasons why 2 oz appeals as a standard. For one, it makes for easy mental math – four 2 oz shots make one 8 oz cup. Round numbers are simpler for measuring and tracking drinks.

Additionally, some see 1.5 oz as too small of a pour. Barely covering the bottom of a shot glass, it can feel unsatisfying compared to a double shot filled to the brim. This sense of value impacts how much a customer is willing to pay.

So while the 2 oz shot may not have historical tradition on its side, shifts in consumer expectations and conventions make a strong case for it being today’s standard.

Regional and Cultural Differences

Beyond the debate over 1.5 oz vs 2 oz, there are also regional and cultural differences that impact standard shot sizes. This can vary the definition of a shot depending on where you are.

For example, a number of sources cite the standard shot size in the United States as 1.5 ounces. However, in other countries like the United Kingdom and Australia, a single shot is often measured as 2 ounces. Customary serving sizes evolve differently in different cultures.

Within the United States, there are regional differences as well. Parts of the country with strong moral views on alcohol consumption, like the South, may lean towards smaller 1.5 oz shot sizes. However, nightlife capitals like Las Vegas may view 2+ ounces as standard.

Cultural venues also impact definitions. A trendy nightclub may upsize shots to 2 oz or more to encourage revelry. Meanwhile, a casual restaurant may stick to 1.5 oz as a responsible serving size.

So while the oz size of a shot may fuel debates, in practice there is no universal standard. Both cultural and regional nuances impact shot sizes across different markets.

Liquor Type and Serving Method

Beyond regional and cultural factors, the type of liquor can also dictate what shot size is customary. Certain spirits have long-standing serving traditions that determine expected shot sizes.

For example, a shot of sake is traditionally 1.5 oz in size. The Japanese liquor even has a specific measuring cup, called a shakumeki, that holds precisely 1.5 oz. This demonstrates that serving customs can vary for certain liquor types.

The method in which the liquor is served can also impact ideal shot sizes. For layered or mixed shots with multiple liquors, smaller 1 oz pours of each liquor may be preferred. However, straight shots of a single liquor are more commonly served as 1.5-2+ ounces.

Bartenders may also alter shot sizes depending on the alcohol proof of a liquor. Higher proof spirits may have slightly smaller shots to control intoxication levels. This again reinforces that perfect shot sizes are subjective.

Recommendations for Shot Sizes

So amidst the debate and variability, what are some best practices when it comes to shot sizes?

For commercial bars, using standardized shot sizes across the menu is recommended. This helps provide consistency between different bartenders on staff. 1-1.5 oz and 2 oz are both common standard sizes.

It’s also important for bars to communicate and train staff on standard shot sizes. This avoids customer confusion and portions that seem overly generous or stingy. Posting the shot size on menus provides additional transparency.

For casual home bartenders, using jiggers and metered pouring spouts allows you to customize shot sizes for taste preferences or specific liquors. You can serve a range from 1-2 oz based on the occasion and what feels enjoyable.

No matter what size you choose, the key is consistency across your pours. This helps guests monitor and pace their alcohol intake. With experience, free pouring shots “by eye” can achieve this consistency.

Although liquor shot sizes have gone through an interesting evolution over the past century, there are persuasive cases for both 1.5 oz and 2 oz as standards today. But in the end, the “perfect” amount comes down to personal or regional tastes. As long as your shots follow a consistent size, guests can then decide their preferred quantity.

Common Questions about Shot Sizes

Why are there different standard shot sizes?

Shot sizes evolved from smaller 1.5 oz glasses historically to larger 2+ oz glasses in modern times. This results in disagreement over whether 1.5 oz or 2 oz is the true “standard.” Regional and cultural differences also impact customary shot sizes.

What are the benefits of a 1.5 oz shot vs a 2 oz shot?

A 1.5 oz shot has the benefit of being the original historical size, allowing for easier drink counting, and preventing overconsumption. A 2 oz shot takes advantage of the full volume of most modern shot glasses, provides good value for money, and makes math simple with 4 shots per 8 oz cup.

Are “double shots” the same as 2 oz shots?

Yes, a double shot is typically referring to a 2 oz liquor pour, since it’s twice the volume of a 1.5 oz single shot. So the terms 2 oz shot and double shot are essentially equivalent.

Should high-proof liquor shots be smaller?

Some bartenders recommend making shots of high-proof liquors like everclear slightly smaller, around 1-1.5 oz. This controls intoxication levels, since higher proof liquors have more concentrated alcohol content in less liquid volume.

Do you serve sake shots differently than other liquors?

Yes, sake shots are traditionally served as 1.5 oz specifically. Sake even has its own 1.5 oz measuring cup called a shakumeki. So sake shots follow their own serving standards compared to Western liquors.

Shot Size Volume Benefits Downsides
1 ounce 1 fluid ounce – Allows pacing alcohol intake
– Good for high proof liquor
– Smaller than many modern shot glasses
– Provides less value
1.5 ounces 1.5 fluid ounce – Historically standard size
– Easy counting of drinks
– Less than modern shot glass volume
2 ounces 2 fluid ounces – Fills modern shot glasses
– Simple 4 shots = 8 oz
– Encourages higher consumption


There are good arguments on both sides over whether a standard shot of liquor is meant to be 1.5 ounces or 2 ounces. Much of this debate stems from how shot sizes have evolved over the past century, with inflation occurring over time. Ultimately, being aware of this discrepancy allows you to set shot sizes thoughtfully based on your specific situation. Whether you prefer the measured control of a 1.5 oz shot or the full satisfying pour of a 2 oz shot,consistency is key so guests know what to expect.

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