Whether you're stocking up for a party or just trying to estimate your own needs, it's helpful to know how many drinks you can expect to get out of a bottle of liquor. The answer will vary depending on the size of the bottle and your preferred shot, but there are some general guidelines.
A standard shot consists of about 1.5 fluid ounces of liquor, about 44 mL. Bottles of liquor come in a range of sizes, with a typical full-size bottle holding 25.36 fluid ounces, or 750 mL. This size of bottle will therefore contain just over 17 average shots. However, not all shots are identical -- and neither are all bottles.
The 1.5-fluid-ounce shot is standard, but outside of the context of a bar, where shots are carefully measured, it's normal to see some variation. If a bottle of vodka only produces a dozen shots, it probably means that you're slightly over-serving. Even in a bar, many customers order double shots -- these generous servings will go through a bottle much more quickly.
Obviously, a larger bottle will yield more shots. The standard bottle sizes in the U.S. range from the 50-mL miniature to the 1.75-liter "handle." A 1.75-liter bottle will produce around 40 standard-size shots, while a miniature bottle will provide just one slightly larger shot.
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Unlike beer, liquor bottles are always identified by metric rather than Imperial measurements.
Even if they're similar in volume, two shots of liquor may not have the same alcohol content. Most liquor is around 80 proof, meaning that it contains about 40 percent alcohol. However, some drinks may have higher or lower alcohol content, meaning that their shots are more or less potent.