Food & Drink

Classic Cocktails, Ranked by How Many Shots They Contain

It’s easy to know what you’re getting when you buy a shot. A cocktail, on the other hand, isn’t so forthcoming with its boozy contents. With bubbly sodas, sweet syrups and fresh juices all complicating the flavors of the base spirit, it’s difficult to know exactly what you’re buying, especially when paying upwards of $20 at some high-end establishments. To set the record straight, here’s exactly how many shots of booze are in each classic cocktail, ranked from least to most alcoholic.

16. White Russian

1 oz vodka + 1 oz coffee liqueur = 1.33 shots

While you can choose your own White Russian adventure by adding your favorite coffee liqueur, most of the boozy caffeinated mixers are around 25 percent ABV—which makes the creamy drink comparatively light.

15. Cosmopolitan

1.5 oz vodka + .5 oz Cointreau = 1.33 shots

Unlike other orange liqueurs that are diluted as they’re sweetened, Cointreau is a full-proof liqueur at 40 percent ABV. So that “girly” Cosmo actually has more booze than other drinks in its weight class.

14. Screwdriver

2 oz vodka = 1.33 shots

With a simple recipe of two ounces of vodka topped with OJ, the Screwdriver is actually fairly blunt with its boozy flavor. Be sure to use fresh juice and quality vodka for an enjoyable experience.

13. Bloody Mary

2 oz vodka = 1.33 shots

There are a lot of ingredients required to make a good Bloody Mary, but you only need a solid two ounce slug of vodka when it comes to the booze.

12. Gin and Tonic

2 oz gin = 1.33 shots

The straightforward G&T contains two ounces of booze, a touch more than your standard shot. But you’ll have to drink a lot of bubbly tonic to catch up with your shot-taking pals.

11. Moscow Mule

2 oz vodka = 1.33 shots

Like Highballs such as the Vodka Soda, a good Buck (or Mule) is based on a two-ounce spirit base. Get snazzy with your upgrades and toppings for the Moscow Mule, but don’t compromise on that boozy foundation.

10. Dark ‘N’ Stormy

2 oz rum = 1.33 shots

Swap the vodka in a Moscow Mule for rum, top it up with a bit more ginger beer, and you basically have a Dark ‘N’ Stormy. The two drinks are essentially equal in terms of boozy power, but they deliver the liquor in two very different, yet equally flavorful ways.

9. Old Fashioned

2 oz whiskey = 1.33 shots

The Old Fashioned never fails with its perfect balance of whiskey, sweet sugar and potent bitters. A two-ounce pour of the right whiskey (whether you prefer the classic rye or opt for sweet bourbon) is all you need to achieve cocktail nirvana.

8. Margarita

2 oz tequila = 1.33 shots

Like any other Sour, the Margarita works on a basic mix of base (tequila), sweet (agave syrup) and sour (lime juice). In the case of our Marg, there’s a bit more sour and a bit less sweet for a drier, more energetic cocktail, But the standard two-ounce pour still anchors the drink.

7. Sazerac

2 oz whiskey + .25 oz absinthe = 1.5 shots

Thanks to the addition of potent absinthe, the Sazerac begins to tip the scale towards boozier cocktails. The extra quarter ounce rinse on the glass really brings out the flavors of the anise-tinged spirit and provides the whiskey drink with a kick.

6. Sex on the Beach

1.5 oz vodka + .5 oz peach schnapps + .5 oz Chambord = 1.66 shots

Unlike German “schnaps,” which is a full-proof spirit, American “schnapps” is a liqueur, which contains about 20 percent ABV—about the same amount as Chambord. Even without the orange and cranberry juices in the finished Sex on the Beach cocktail, a double shot glass filled with the drink’s three spirits would deliver a shot that’s equally fruity and boozy.

5. Negroni

1 oz gin + 1 oz Campari + 1 oz sweet vermouth = 2 shots

The Negroni doesn’t hold back on flavor or booze. The bitter sipper weighs in at two shots-worth of alcohol, but we doubt you’ll down the powerful (yet totally lovable) flavors too quickly.

4. Martini

2.5 oz gin + .5 oz dry vermouth = 2 shots

The Martini is basically an extremely dry, slightly velvety glass of booze. While dry vermouth usually clocks in at only about 17 percent ABV, most of the liquid in your glass is pure gin (or vodka, if you swing that way).

3. Manhattan

2 oz whiskey + 1 oz sweet vermouth = 2 shots

Don’t mess around with the Manhattan. Its easy drinkability belies its strength, which doubles the amount of booze in a standard shot. Bitters up the flavor, but it’s whiskey and vermouth that do the heavy lifting.

2. Long Island Iced Tea

.75 oz vodka + .75 oz gin + .75 oz rum + .75 oz tequila + 1.5 oz triple sec = 3 shots

Long live the king of boozy dive bar cocktails, the LIIT. Alongside lower-proof triple sec, this monster still contains two full shots of straight hard alcohol. Of course, it’s near the end of the list.

1. Zombie

1.5 oz dark rum + 1.5 oz gold rum + 1 oz 151-proof rum + .25 oz absinthe + .5 oz falernum = 3.2 shots

You thought we were done at the Long Island, right? Not quite. The tiki classic Zombie takes a bite out of any drinker with more than three shots of liquor. The kicker is the full ounce of 151-proof rum that sends the Zombie over-the-top. There’s a reason many bars limit drinkers to two orders.