5 Ways to Measure a Shot Without a Shot Glass

How to Measure a Shot Without a Shot Glass
Tiffany Mallery

I will not ask why you don’t have a shot glass. Maybe you lost it. Maybe you’re not much of a home bartender and never had one. Maybe you have limited space in your kitchen and got rid of your shot glass because it lacks versatility. Maybe you had several shot glasses, but your crew “borrowed” or broke them. There are countless, perfectly good reasons to not have a shot glass!

But the why does not matter. I am a judgment-free person and this is a judgment-free article. It exists to provide assistance to you, Person Without a Shot Glass Who Now Needs to Measure a Shot. You may not even know how much a shot is! Fear not: it’s 1.5 ounces. See? I’m already bringing you knowledge. Now keep reading for five ways to a measure a shot without a shot glass.

1. A Tablespoon [aka the Large Measuring Spoon]

Fun fact: A tablespoon is approximately half a liquid ounce. STOP: Do not attempt the math! I have already done the math for you. I have instantaneous access to conversion charts, and algorithms—and also a calculator. They unanimously confirm that three tablespoons equals one shot.

So there you go: Measure them out, one-by-one, and add them to your shot—oh, wait, that’s why we’re here in the first place. You don’t have a shot glass. Just add them to whatever glass you’re building your drink in.

How to Measure a Shot without A Shot Glass - Teaspoons
Tiffany Mallery

2. A Teaspoon [aka One of the Smaller Measuring Spoons that’s Hopefully Marked “TSP”].

“I have a tablespoon!” you say. “Wait, no. This is smaller. It appears to be a teaspoon. I’ll never measure a shot with this crude instrument.” Wrong! You can indeed measure a shot with a teaspoon. All it requires is patience.

You see, a teaspoon is one-third of a tablespoon. And if three tablespoons are a shot, then … HALT. Do not work ahead on this problem! Leave the calculations to me so you can get to enjoying your drink as soon as possible while perusing cat pictures, all right?
All right ... I ran the numbers: nine teaspoons equals one shot.

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How to Measure a Shot Without a Shot Glass - Crown Royal
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How to Measure a Shot Without a Shot Glass - Red Plastic Party Cup
Tiffany Mallery

3. Red Plastic Party Cup

The iconic red plastic party cup famously has dividing lines for one shot of liquor, 5 ounces of wine, and 12 ounces of beer. The problem: the first line on that red cup measures a one-ounce shot, not the standard 1.5 ounces.

The solution: measure one ounce, pour it into your intended vessel for imbibing, then estimate a half ounce on your second pour. You’ll be fine, and your cocktail well-balanced.

4. Medicine Cup

Like it or not (scratch that … why would you like it?), cold and flu season is here. That means you or your roommate has probably stocked your medicine cabinet appropriately. On top of that cough suppressant in the cupboard is a handy miniature measuring cup—closer to a thimble, really, or—hey, a very small shot glass! That thing should have oz measurements right on the side in stark red ink. And if you got some metric medicine, well, we’ve got you covered: a 1.5 oz shot is 44.3 milliliters.

How to Measure a Shot Without a Shot Glass - Water Displacement
Tiffany Mallery

5. Water Displacement

Are you the type that likes a labor-intensive, time-consuming—but fun!—solution to a conundrum? Buddy, have I got a method for you! All you have to do is measure how much liquid is displaced by 1.5 ounces of solid material. Then anything can be your shot glass!

Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1: Fill a smallish container with about two inches of water. Mark the top of the water’s level with a marker.

Step 2: Place an object that displaces 1.5 ounces in the water. My suggestion: 5 quarters and 3 nickels, which totals 1.52 ounces. With all the coins submerged, mark the new high mark of the water.

Step 3: Dump the change and water. Fill the glass to the top line with the alcohol of your choice. Pour out the liquid until you reach the first line you made. You just poured a shot!

*You can also use a ping pong ball for this method. It will yield 1 oz lines, so if you want to go for it—and why not? You’ve come this far—you can make your own full-blown measuring cup with it.

Congratulations! You’ve completed a crash course in make-do shot measurement. Far from judging you for not owning a shot glass, your friends will now marvel at your MacGyver-esque bar skills. Go forth and spread your newfound knowledge.