How Many Shots in a Fifth?

by Dane Wilson | Last Updated: July 25, 2023

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Liquor measurements can be confusing, especially when it comes to determining how many shots are in a particular bottle size. One commonly used bottle size is a fifth, but how many shots can you pour from it? Let’s explore the concept of a fifth, including the breakdown of how many shots are in a fifth and other important measurements.

Table of Contents

How Many Shots in a Fifth

What is a Fifth?

The term “fifth” in the context of liquor bottle sizes has an interesting historical origin. In the past, liquor was sold in different bottle sizes, often with unique names associated with their volume. One such bottle size was the fifth gallon, which referred to a bottle holding one-fifth of a gallon of liquor.

This usage of “fifth” can be traced all the way back to the late 19th century, when the United States was selling a variety of sizes—quarts, half-pints, and pints. In 1879, the US government declared standardized sizes of liquor bottles, including the fifth gallon. The bottle was equivalent to 757 ml or 25.4 fluid ounces. It was called a “fifth” due to its capacity being one-fifth of a gallon, hence the name.

Over time, the size of the bottles changed, and in 1980, the U.S. switched to the metric system for liquor measurements. The fifth gallon was redefined as 750 milliliters (ml) or 25.36 fl oz, which is the current standard size for a fifth of liquor.

Despite the shift in sizes leaning towards the metric system, the United States has clung to the term “fifth,” even if the volume is no longer used. Since it is a widely understood size reference, it is accepted that saying “a fifth” is here to stay.

In short, when you hear someone talk about a fifth of liquor, they are talking about the standard bottle size of 750 ml.

When Do You Use a Fifth?

A fifth is a popular bottle size for many types of liquor, including vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila, and more. It is commonly used for personal consumption, home bars, and small gatherings.

Therefore, you can assume that when someone asks how many shots are in a fifth of vodka or whiskey, the answer is going to be the same.

What is a Shot?

In the realm of alcohol consumption, a shot is a common unit of measurement used to serve a specific amount of liquor. It is a standardized way of pouring and consuming spirits, ensuring consistency in the amount of alcohol being consumed.

A shot typically refers to a volume of 1.5 fluid ounces or approximately 44 milliliters of liquid. This measurement has become widely accepted as the standard shot size in many countries, including the United States. However, it’s important to note that shot sizes can vary in different regions and establishments. For example, some places have 1 oz shot glasses. You can also get double shots, which are literally double the standard size.

Fun fact: The size of a shot in Italy is 2 ounces, while a standard shot in Germany is around 0.84 oz!

Some shot glasses come marked with a line indicating the appropriate volume for a single shot. This helps bartenders and individuals to accurately measure and pour shots when making drinks. That said, there are plenty of shot glasses out there that are used specifically for taking said shot. These can vary in size and capacity, but you can expect them to hold around 1.5 fluid ounces or 44 ml in the United States.

How Many Ounces are in a Shot?

As mentioned in the section above, the average shot is typically 1.25 to 1.5 fluid ounces or 44 milliliters. This measurement is accepted in bars and other drinking establishments. However, shots do come in different sizes, including 1 oz and 3 oz shots.

How Many ml are in a Shot Glass?

Shot glasses are commonly used to pour and measure shots. They typically have a standard capacity of 44 milliliters or 1.5 fluid ounces, which aligns with the standard shot size in the US.

As mentioned previously, there is no globally recognized standard size. Some countries have smaller shots, while others have larger.

How to Calculate How Many Shots are in a Fifth

To determine the number of shots you can pour from a fifth of liquor, a simple calculation can be done using the total volume of the bottle (750 ml) and the volume of a single shot (44 ml). Here’s how you can calculate it:

  1. Identify the total volume of the bottle: In this case, a fifth of liquor is equivalent to 750 milliliters (ml). This is the standard volume for a fifth.
  2. Determine the volume of a single shot: A standard shot typically contains 1.5 fluid ounces or approximately 44 milliliters (ml) of liquid. This is the amount you’ll use for the calculation.
  3. Calculate the number of shots: Divide the total volume of the bottle (750 ml) by the volume of a single shot (44 ml).

The formula would be as follows: Number of Shots = Total Volume of Bottle (ml) / Volume of a Single Shot (ml)

When you plug in the numbers provided already, you will find that the answer comes out to 17 shots even.

How Many Shots are in a Fifth?

A fifth of liquor (750 ml) yields 16 or 17 shots. Keep in mind that while this is an approximation, your individual pouring style may produce more or less shots.

Now, this is assuming you are using the standard 1.5 oz shot glass. What happens if you have a 1 oz glass or a double shot glass?

When using a 1 oz shot, which is 29.6 ml, a fifth of liquor will give you about 25 shots.

If you pour double, that is typically 3 fluid ounces or 89 milliliters. With a double shot, the yield is a mere 8.4 shots.

How Many Shots are in a Fifth of Vodka?

If we consider a fifth of vodka, which is the most popular liquor choice, the calculation remains the same. A fifth of vodka (750 ml) would also yield 16 or 17 shots, assuming each shot is poured at the standard 44 ml measurement.

How Many Shots are in a Fifth of Whiskey?

Being that a fifth of vodka and a fifth of whiskey are the same thing, you get the same number of shots—16 or 17. Again, if you tend to pour a bit more heavy-handed, you may end up with only 15 shots.

Does a Fifth Differ in the US and UK?

Let’s say you have taken a trip across the pond and want to do some shots with your friends. If you are from the US and are drinking in the UK, you may be surprised to find that a UK fifth is different from a US fifth. This also means that the number of shots in a fifth changes!

As mentioned earlier, the US fifth of liquor refers to 750 ml. In the United Kingdom, a fifth is not commonly used to describe bottle size. Instead, the standard is a 70 centiliter (cl) bottle, which is equivalent to 700 milliliters or 23.7 fluid ounces. So, if you plan on pouring shots from a fifth in the UK, you can expect around 15.9 shots.

Why is it Important to Know How Many Shots in a Fifth?

There are a couple of reasons why someone would want to know how many shots they can get out a fifth of liquor. Here are some of those reasons:

Planning and Purchasing

Understanding the number of shots in a fifth helps in planning for parties, gatherings, or personal consumption. It allows you to estimate the quantity of liquor needed to cater to the desired number of shots. This knowledge enables you to make informed purchasing decisions, ensuring you have enough liquor for the occasion without wastage or running out. For example, if you are planning a bridal shower or birthday party, you may want to calculate how many bottles of vodka you need to make x-amount of cocktails for your friends.

Hosting and Serving Guests

If you’re hosting an event or serving liquor to guests, knowing the number of shots in a fifth helps in providing accurate servings. It allows you to plan the quantity of liquor needed to serve a specific number of guests and manage portions. In other words, if you know that a fifth yields a specific number of shots, then you can figure out not only how many bottles you need but also how many people can be served a single serving from1 bottle. For example, if you have 20 people coming, you are going to need 2 bottles of tequila if everyone plans on doing shots.

Responsible Consumption

Being aware of the number of shots in a fifth aids in practicing responsible drinking habits. It allows individuals to monitor and regulate their alcohol intake. By knowing how many shots are in a bottle, you can gauge the appropriate amount to consume to stay within your limits and avoid excessive or irresponsible drinking. For instance, if you are a smaller individual, you may only be able to have 3-4 shots of whiskey before you are drunk, while someone bigger may be able to consume 5-6 before getting tipsy.

Cocktail Preparation

Many cocktail recipes provide guidelines based on the number of shots or specific measurements of liquor required. Knowing how many shots are in a fifth allows you to accurately follow recipes and create cocktails with the desired taste and alcohol content.

Consider this: You are trying to mix a margarita. You know that a fifth of tequila is going to give you around 17 shots. If you have to pour 2 ounces of tequila each time, then it won’t be 17 but less. So you plug the numbers into the aforementioned formula and get 12.7 shots. Now, if you have friends coming over, knowing they are each going to have a margarita, you can decide if you need to purchase an extra bottle!

Now You Can Accurately Measure a Fifth!

Understanding the measurements and calculations involved in determining the number of shots in a fifth can help you plan accordingly. With a fifth of liquor typically containing 750 ml, you can expect to pour approximately 17 standard shots. Though you may get more or less depending on the shot size. Now that you know how many shots are in a fifth, you can also experiment. Use your fifth wisely.  And be sure to enjoy your drinks responsibly!

For further reading, learn how much champagne it takes to get drunk or how many shots are in a pint of beer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many 2 oz shots are in a fifth?

A 2 oz shot is more than the standard pour and will give you 12.5 shots from a fifth.

How many 1.5 oz shots are in a fifth?

When pouring 1.5 oz shots from a fifth, you get approximately 16.6 shots.

How many shots are in a 750 ml bottle?

There are approximately 17 shots in a 750 ml bottle when each shot is accurately measured. If you are free pouring, you may end with only 15 or 16 shots.

How many 1 oz shots are in a 750 ml bottle?

You will get 25 shots when pouring 1 oz shots from a 750 ml bottle.

Is drinking a fifth of liquor a lot?

Yes, it absolutely is a lot. One fifth of liquor is equal to 16-17 shots, depending on how much is poured. If you are drinking 17 shots a day, you are going well over the legal limit of alcohol in your blood. You may even get sick.