The 7 Fastest Ways to Measure a Shot Without a Shot Glass

By Sina Torner / Last updated on May 11, 2023

A shot contains 1.5 ounces of liquid, and you can easily measure it with most shot glasses. But how can you measure the exact amount if you don't have a shot glass at hand?
Fastest ways to measure a shot without a shot glass

If you ever tried to pour a shot without any indication, you know how difficult that is. So, here are some tools and methods that can help you measure a shot without a shot glass.

The fastest way to measure a shot without a shot glass is to free pour. However, as this needs time and practice to master, I recommend using a jigger, the fastest & easiest way to measure a shot for everyone who isn't a trained bartender.

1. Use a Jigger to measure a shot

Jigger used to measure a shot

The best solution is the bartender's essential - the jigger. It is a little helper tool every bartender owns, and it is just perfect for measuring pour sizes. However, if you don't have one and can't get hold of a shot glass, there are some other options to measure a shot.

2. Measuring Cups

Measuring cups with different measurements

If you don't have a jigger, a measuring cup is the second-best way to measure a shot. Measuring cups have various units of measurement printed on them to accurately measure ml or grams.

To measure a shot, you need to know how much liquid you need. For one shot, you need 1.5 ounces or 44.36 ml (about 45 ml). The numbers on the measuring cups are usually in increments of 5 or 10. In most cases, this should be enough to determine a 45 ml amount accurately.  

3. Tablespoon

liquid measured with table spoon

A tablespoon is a proper tool to measure a shot of any liquid. A standard tablespoon will hold 0.5 oz of liquid. So to get 1 oz, you will need two tablespoons. A shot of 1.5 oz requires three tablespoons, and so forth.

4. A Teaspoon helps to measure a shot

Teaspoons are another way to measure a shot. Since they are smaller than tablespoons, you need quite a few teaspoons. So it's not ideal, but still doable. 

For every tablespoon, you will need three teaspoons. That translates into six teaspoons for 1 oz of liquid and nine teaspoons for 1.5 oz of liquor.

5. Use Your Fingers

Measure a shot with finger

If you only have a glass and no other tools available, you can still roughly measure a shot using your fingers. Pour the liquid into a glass while pressing your fingertips on the bottom. You've poured about a shot when the liquid reaches the top of your first finger

Of course, the precision of this method varies as it depends on how wide the glass is and how thick your fingers are. However, it's quite close and with this method, you can still measure ingredients reasonably uniformly.

6. Use a Red Solo Cup

Red Solo cup measurements

If you have a solo cup, you can use it to measure a shot. However, with the long-overdue bans on plastic cups, this will eventually become obsolete. Anyway, if you have one, it works as a measuring tool.

There's an urban legend that the lines of a solo cup indicate the pouring amount for various drinks. The bottom line supposedly marks the size of a shot. The next is for a standard serving of wine, and the top line is the mark for a beer. However, this is not exactly true.

The bottom line equals approximately 1 oz of liquid. So you can use it to measure a small shot. Or you can estimate 1.5 oz based on the 1 oz mark. This method is not as accurate as others. But it's good enough.

If you wonder why the plastic cup is called Solo: The wife of the Solo cup inventor came up with the idea for the name because the cup was intended as a disposable one-use container. Pretty unspectacular, to be honest.

7. Learn to Free Pour a Shot

Free pour measuring a shot

If you're able to measure shot sizes by free pouring, you are a real pro. It requires loads of practice, but once you master it, all you need is a pourer. But trust me, it isn't an easy thing to do.

If you want to learn this technique, you best get yourself a pourer and fill some water in a liquor bottle. 

Take a cup and pour in the water with the pourer. While you do this, count to 4, and you should end up with 1.5 oz of water in your cup. Double-check the poured amount after each try, and adjust your counting speed if necessary.

That likely won't work the first time. It takes a bit of try and error to get the right counting speed and consistency. But don't let yourself be discouraged. Free pouring is perfect for low-key showing off on many occasions - just like pouring Rainbow shots.

Why shot measuring is important

Measuring your pour size is essential when creating cocktails. It's necessary to get your drinks right if the recipe asks for a shot. With many classic cocktails, sticking to the measurements is crucial to get the desired result. 

Also, if you want to pour some shots for you and your friends, it can't hurt to know how much you're drinking - even if it's not out of a shot glass. That helps you keep track of how much alcohol you had. 

How many ounces are a shot?

If you thought a shot is a standardized term that refers to a precisely defined volume, I have to disappoint you. It is not. Depending on where in the world you are, a shot can be anything from 0.7 - 2 oz. 

It's pretty much like a dram or a dash. Only usually, people are aware that these two measurements are a little vague. With a shot, you would think that's a clear-cut matter.

But because we need to have a reference to be able to measure: In the United States, a shot commonly is either 1 or 1.5 oz. (When in a recipe, you can assume it's 1.5 oz)

If you want to know the average shot sizes in other countries, you can find an overview in the article about how many ounces are in a shot.


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