When you buy a bottle of liquor, you might find yourself wondering how many shots are in a fifth. That’s going to depend, in part, on how big of shots you’re pouring for your friends. The easy answer is that a fifth of liquor contains 15 to 17 shots. But let’s take a closer look.
A Brief History of the Fifth
In the United States, we don’t actually use Fifth as a real measurement for whiskey anymore. Due to some international standards and consistencies, almost all liquor is measured in milliliters or liters, now. Previously, liquor was often measured in Gallons, and bottles (mostly wine) were about one-fifth of a gallon… thus the name fifth.
Why is it still called a fifth? Well, the even though we don’t measure liquor quite the same way anymore, the colloquialism of “fifth” is still pretty accurate. One gallon is equal to about 3,785 milliliters. A fifth of that is 757 mL. So, when you buy a colloquial “fifth” from the local package store, you’re getting ~7mL less than an actual 1/5 gallon. Aptly for a state run ABC system, that’s good enough for government work.
How Many Shots In A Fifth?
So, now we can do this math a few way.
In Utah, a shot is legally defined as 1.5 ounces, which converts to about 44.36 mL. If we’re buying a “fifth” at 750 mL, that would mean we have just under 17 shots. Having said that, most jiggers (used to measure shots) sold in the U.S. actually measure 1 and/or 2 ounces.
If you go with a straight milliliter measurement, you might pour a slightly larger shot at around 50 mL. That’s a clean 15 shots.
So, all told, you’re looking at between 15 and 17 shots in a fifth, depending on how you measure it out. A lot of cocktail recipes will give you measurement in ounces, though, so don’t worry too much. Those recipes are more like guidelines, anyway. Experiment until you find ratios you enjoy best.