What is a Shot of Alcohol?
When Champagne cocktail recipes talk about a shot of alcohol, just what do they mean by that? What does a shot of alcohol look like? Technically, a shot is 1.5 oz of liquid - but few of us carry around an exact measuring device to figure that out. Even if we did, measuring exactly where a line of liquid falls on a line on a curved glass is an inexact science. So I set out to document this, to help my readers!
First, I pulled out my trusty scale and set it to grams (g) so I had as detailed a measurement as I possibly could. I began by measuring the weight of my measuring glass.
The empty measuring glass was 624 g. I then measured as precisely as I could the volume of liquid for 16 oz. For my test I used water colored green with green food coloring. Astute readers might note that water isn't necessarily the same weight as alcohol. That's fine. The purpose of these tests was to display - visually - how much a shot worth of liquid *looks* in various glasses. The only reason we're measuring via weight is to get that shot of liquid as precisely as possible into each glass.
So the 16 ounces of water plus the measusring glass weighed 1082 g. Subtract the 624 g for the empty glass, and this means the 16 oz of water weighs 458 g. Divide this by 16, and you get that each ounce of water is 29 g.
I always like to verify. So I carefully measured out 12 oz of liquid.
This measusred to 970 g total. Minus the 624 g and you get 346 g for the water. Divide this by 12, and you get - again - 29 g for each ounce. So by doing two separate measurements, and coming up with the exact same amount, I felt fairly certain that I was set.
A shot is 1.5 ounces. So taking 29 g plus 15 g, you get 44 g total for a shot worth of water - the 1.5 ounces. So now the quest was to see what 44 g of water looked like in a variety of glasses, to provide a visual reference.
In each case what I did was this. First I measured the empty glass and wrote that weight down. Then I dripped the water into the glass until the total weight was that starting weight plus 44 g. So each of these final weights you see is the weight of the glass plus 44 g of liquid added to it. That means there is exactly 1.5 oz of liquid showing in that glass in the photo.
First off, the classic shot glass. I happened to have a UCONN Huskies glass for my test. Go Huskies! We've all seen shot glasses in bars and know what they're like. They are, of course, meant to hold a shot of liquid. No surprise, the liquid value of a shot fit nicely into the glass. Starting weight - 80 g. Ending weight - 124 g.
Next, the tall, thin variety of shot glass. This one comes from Key West, Florida - a lovely location with spectacular sunsets. I love Key West. You might think that the tall, thin shot glass holds far more! Instead, because it's thinner, it actually holds ... a shot! Go figure :) Yes I suppose there's slight more "air space" there so it's not as likely to spill. Starting weight - 129 g. Ending weight - 173 g.
Next up, a pretty blue sake glass. This is part of a set I own where the carafe has a little pocket that ice sits in. I'd always admired these at Japanese restaurants and finally got one of my own. Sake is traditionally drunk in shot-like quantities. Interestingly, you should only fill your sake glass up about half way. Starting weight - 84 g. Full weight - 128 g.
OK, on to one of my favorites, the slim, balancing shot glass. These are very pretty but also fairly impractical - they are very easy to tip over! Especially if you're drinking :) This, being a shot glass, is the size of a shot. Makes sense! Empty weight - 77 g. Full weight - 121 g.
We move on to my Bailey's glass. I got these explicitly to drink Bailey's in, and even engraved them with a glass engraver to have cute sayings on them like "add ice". They are the right size to hold a shot of Bailey's plus three ice cubes. Here I of course show the liquid without the ice cubes in it. Empty weight - 222 g. Full weight - 266 g.
Now we move on to some glasses that are not traditionally thought of as shot glasses, but one never knows what might be around the house when you're making your recipes. First up, a Champagne flute. After all, if you're making a Champagne cocktail, you probably have a Champagne flute around! Empty weight - 191 g. Full weight - 235 g.
Next up, a regular wine glass. Maybe you're making a sangria and not a Champagne cocktail, or maybe you just like a wider glass for some reason. This one is 156 g empty, 200 g full.
This next glass is a cordial glass - it's explicitly made for after dinner drinks, so it is nicely proportioned for having a shot worth of liquid plus a bit of "empty space" so it doesn't spill while you're carrying it around. This is ideal for sipping drinks from. It's 119 g empty, 163 g full.
Finally, this is a lowball glass - the traditional short, squat, squarish glass used for drinks with a lot of ice in them. Interestingly, if you tried to use a "two finger" measurement of alcohol in this - i.e. pour the liquid until it was two fingers' high, it would be more than a double shot! This amount here is as high as one pinkie finger :) Here's a shot of liquid in that glass. Empty it's 366 g, full it's 410 g.
How do all of these shots of liquid look laid out side by side? Here are the exact glasses that were measured, so you can see how they are compared. The one on the far left is a traditional shot glass and the one on the right is a traditional lowball glass, so those give you a basis for measurement.
Let me know if you have any questions about shot glasses and shot volume, and enjoy!
The Basics of Champagne
Methode Champenoise - How Champagne is Made
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