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The Origin of The Shot Glass and What is The Difference between a Shot and a Jigger?

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August 12, 2016 No comments


There have been many stories circulated on how the shot glass earned its name. The fact is, nobody is certain about the exact origins of the American shot glass, but there have been many different speculations, all quite fascinating:

One such speculation takes place in the American Old West, where a bullet for a cowboy’s six-gun cost 12 cents, and so did a glass of whiskey. If the cowboy was short on cash he would give the bartender a bullet from his gun in exchange for a glass of whiskey, and this became known as a “shot” or “shot glass” of whiskey.

Another story suggests the name originates from buckshot. In early America when we still hunted our meals regularly, a small glass would be left on dinner tables at each table setting in which guests could place the lead shot or buckshot that may still be in their meals, eventually leading to the coining of the term "shot glass."

Another story on the origin of the shot glass is that Friedrich Otto Schott, the co-founder of the German glassworks factory Jenaer Glaswerk Schott & Genossen, invented the glass. When the small glass was imported into the United States, it was Americanized with the name Shot Glass instead of Schott Glass.


barware shot glasses. Best Selection at Rapids Wholesale Bar and Kitchen supplies

A Shot: Glass, Measurement, or Both?

Confusion about the size of a shot glass comes from recipes that call for a shot of liquor. A “shot” of liquor in a cocktail recipe, however, is not a reference to a shot glass; rather, it is simply a measurement meaning 1/14 to 1/12 ounces of liquor.

The term shot glass generally refers to any small glass, from barware to souvenir collectibles to tiny glasses in funny shape such as a cowboy boot or a cactus. In a bar, the term refers to the small glass used to serve shooters and single glasses of liquor to the patron.

A pony shot is a measurement meaning an ounce of liquor.
Jiggers come in different sizes. Best selections found at Rapids Wholesale Bar and Restaurant Supply

Difference Between a Jigger and a Shot?

Similar to the shot, a jigger is both a reference to a measured amount of liquor, as well as to a bartender’s double barreled vessel tool.

In a bar, a jigger is used for measurements - each side holds a different amount of liquor. If, on the other hand, you see "jigger" as part of a cocktail recipe, it means add 1-½ ounces of liquor.

liquor pourers portion control for liquor bottles sold by Rapids Wholesale

Free Pour...

In movies and on TV, we see bartenders “free pouring” into the cocktail and never measuring. And yes, that can be done. Free pour bartenders have been trained to count the pour. Tip the bottle, count to four, and lift the bottle. That is an ounce of liquor.

trigger liquor control caps sold by Rapids Wholesale Bar and Restaurant supply

...or Measured Pour?

While some bartenders do master the “free pour” technique, you will find most successful commercial bars use portion control liquor pourers or trigger control bottle dispensers that can be adapted to different bottles to pour a different amount from each bottle via the trigger control. The beauty of a liquor pourer or trigger dispenser pourer is that drinks are consistent in flavor and unnecessary waste is eliminated, meaning profit can be managed at the same time quality is consistent.

dust covers for liquor pourers

Keeping Your Liquor Pour and Bottles Bug Free

If you equip your home bar or commercial bar liquor bottles with liquor pourers, do not forget the dust caps to place over-top when not in use.

It is just a fact that fruit flies enjoy liquor, maybe more than humans do, and pouring them out of your bottle when serving up a cocktail or shooter is just embarrassing and disgusting. Friends and patrons will not be returning to your bar soon after seeing a fruit fly poured out of your liquor bottle. A dust cover is an inexpensive way to keep your liquor pest and dust free.

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