Person pouring a line of shots in a bar

If you choose to drink alcohol, every once in a while you may find yourself in a situation where you're presented with shots. Maybe you enjoy doing shots or you want to be prepared if someone buys a shot for you. If you choose to do the shot, it's important to do so safely and responsibly, and you also need to know how to do it correctly. Doing a shot the wrong way can be uncomfortable – and too many can be harmful.

What Is the Size of a Shot Glass?

Most adults who drink alcohol have shot glasses in their homes. In addition to measuring the right amount of alcohol, they're decorative. For instance, many people buy shot glasses when they travel as a souvenir.

But despite the fact that you can buy shot glasses anywhere, the size of a shot glass actually differs depending on where you go. The size ranges between 0.67 ounces to a little over 2 ounces in a shot glass. In the United States, a shot glass holds 1.48 ounces, but it's usually rounded up to 1.5 ounces – considered the amount of alcohol to make one drink. In Japan, shot glasses hold 2.02 ounces; the standard shot size in the UK is only 0.84 ounces.

How Many Ounces in a Shot Glass?

Based on this information, what defines a "shot" can depend on different factors. When it comes to controlling the amount of alcohol you consume, calculating your blood alcohol content and respecting the law, knowing what constitutes a shot is important. In the United States, 1.5 ounces in a shot is considered one "drink." Therefore, if your shot glass is filled to the brim with a drink that's 40 percent alcohol, it's equal to one drink.

To be sure you have 1.5 ounces in your shot glass, you can always use a measuring cup before pouring it or a shot glass that has measurements on it. You could put less alcohol in a shot glass, though this may make it harder to calculate how much you've consumed as the evening progresses.

The Effects of Shots on the Body

When you take a shot – assuming it's 1.5 ounces – what you feel will depend on how quickly your body absorbs it. Those who weigh more with a higher body mass index (BMI), may not feel the effects of one shot right away, but a smaller person may start to feel something. There are also studies that say your age and genetics play a role in how alcohol affects you.

A shot is also equal to one 12-ounce beer or one 5-ounce glass of wine, but shots usually make people feel the effects of being intoxicated much faster. This is primarily because people usually sip wine or beer slowly, whereas shots are taken in one sip.

How to Drink a Shot of Alcohol

Now that you know how much liquor a shot glass can and should hold, it's important to know how to go about drinking a shot the right way. It's also important that you know when to stop, so you don't drink more than you can handle.

First, take the shot in your hand. Probably, there will be a toast. After clinking your glass, raise it to your lips and quickly swing your head back as you essentially pour the shot into your mouth. Sip it down in one gulp quickly and do not let it sit in your mouth. It will burn a little bit when it goes down your throat, but it will be over fast.

Additionally, there are things to avoid when taking a shot. For one, do not hold your nose. This won't make the shot any less intense, and can actually make the experience last longer. To be polite, resist the urge to wince or gag after taking a shot.


If you're taking a shot of tequila, it usually involves salt and lime. First, wet your hand by your thumb and put salt on it. Then, suck on the salt, take the shot and finally, bite the lime.

What Shots Can You Choose From?

There are many different types of drinks you can take shots of, but keep in mind that to calculate it as a shot/drink, it must be 40 percent alcohol. Generally, distilled spirits contain 40 percent alcohol and many liqueurs have a bit less. Though many "newbie" drinkers might go with vodka or something of the sort, experienced drinkers may opt for Fireball, whiskey or tequila.


In the United States, it's illegal to drink under the age of 21. You should also not drink if you're taking certain medications, you're pregnant or you are planning to drive.