Measure a shot

How to measure a shot without a shot glass

By Sina Torner / Last updated on May 17, 2022 

Read how you can measure the volume of a shot when you don't have a shot glass available.

Sometimes you want to pour a shot but don't have a shot glass. Or a recipe asks for a shot and you don't know how to measure that without the glass. 

Regardless of the reason, you don't want to go all overboard with the amount you pour. And you don't want to be overly restrained either. 

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. 

How many ounces are a shot?

First of all: To measure a shot, you need to know how much it is. And that's not as easy as it may sound. 

If you thought a shot is a standardized term that refers to a precisely defined volumed, 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.

How to measure a shot without a shot glass

If you know that the size of a regular shot is 1 or 1.5 oz, it becomes easier to measure that amount. And in cases when you don't have a calibrated shot glass at hand, you can use the following tools:

 Use a Jigger 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.


A tablespoon is a proper tool to measure amounts of liquids. 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.

Teaspoon to measure a shot

Teaspoons are another way to measure a shot. Because they are a lot smaller than tablespoons, it takes quite some teaspoons. It's therefore not ideal, but still doable. 

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

Solo cups

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.

Free pouring

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 actually had. 

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