Trying a few new cocktails with friends is a fun idea for a get-together, but many cocktail recipes call for precise amounts of liquor, mixers, and additional ingredients.
When it comes to making drinks, most recipes measure all of the ingredients, whether they’re alcoholic or not, in shots.
However, if you don’t have a shot glass handy, it can be difficult to judge just how much a shot is.
There are a few quick ways, however, to measure a shot with relative accuracy without using a shot glass or jigger at all.
1. Use Measuring Spoons
In the United States, there’s no completely accurate measurement for a shot.
Shots are generally one and quarter to two ounces in size, but this can vary depending on the size of the glass or how much someone pours.
In general, though, a shot is usually right around one and a half fluid ounces. This can make measuring a bit of a challenge.
However, it means that, as long as you always use the same measurement for each ‘shot’ in your recipe, your ratios will be correct and your completed cocktail will taste delicious.
For more accuracy, it’s quite simple to measure a standard shot using a measuring spoon or cup. Tablespoons are the easiest way to measure a shot.
One tablespoon holds a half-ounce of liquid, so measure out three tablespoons and you have a one and half ounce shot. You can also use a teaspoon. Because teaspoons are a third of the size of tablespoons, you’ll need to measure out nine teaspoons of your chosen liquid.
If you don’t have measuring spoons handy, you can also use a measuring cup. Many measuring cups have ounces printed alongside the cup measurements, so simply fill to around the one and a half-ounce mark.
If the cup only has milliliters next to the cup measurement markers, fill to right around 45 milliliters, which will get you very close to one and a half ounces.
2. Use a Red Plastic Cup
Red plastic cups are popular party items not only because they’re inexpensive and disposable but also because the lines on the cup are actually designed to be measurements for different amounts of alcohol.
The very bottom line, which acts as a base for the cup, is one ounce. Filling to just over this line will give you about the amount of a standard shot.
Filling to this line exactly will help keep your ratios right for different cocktail recipes.
The middle line on the cup is the five-ounce mark and is a good place to fill for wine, while the next line up is the 12-ounce line and is a good measurement for a glass of beer.
These different lines can also help when it comes to making different cocktails that call for larger amounts of mixers, such as a drink that might use three or four ounces of club soda.
3. Use a Medicine Cup
The small plastic cups that come on or with certain medications, such as cough syrup or flu medications, are an accurate way to measure a shot.
Although each medicine cup varies in shape and size, it has accurate measurements printed on the side, as well as lines to fill to. These measurements are designed to help when it comes to taking the right dosage of medications, but they work just as well for measuring shots.
Simply keep filling the cup to a specific line until you’ve reached one and a half ounces. Most medicine cups are between one and two ounces in size, so you might only need to measure once or twice.
If the medicine cup you’re using only has metric measurements, remember that one and a half ounces is about 44 milliliters, and pouring until you get close to that number will give you a relatively accurate shot amount.
4. Practice the Free Pour
When bartenders are making drinks, they don’t all use a shot glass or jigger to measure out alcohol, but they still need to be accurate so they can ensure that each person gets an equal amount in their drink. This is where the free pour comes in.
To practice your free pour, take the cap off a bottle of water and replace it with a pour spout. Pour spouts are readily available at grocery stores, liquor stores, or online.
Next, count to four as you pour into a glass. Counting to four should get you pretty close to a shot’s worth of liquid, but you can measure how much you’ve poured and adjust accordingly.
When you’ve practiced enough, switch from water to the liquor of your choice.
You can also practice a free pour without a pour spout, but, depending on the viscosity of the alcohol you’re using, you may need to reduce how much you tilt the bottle or count only to two instead of four.
5. Use Your Fingers
If you feel like your free pour is good but not perfect or if you don’t have access to a pour spout, you can use your fingers as measurement.
Hold your fingers against the bottom of a glass as you pour in the liquid. When the liquid reaches the top of your first finger, you’ve poured about a shot. Pouring until the liquid reaches the top of your second finger is equivalent to pouring two shots, or a double.
The accuracy of this method varies a little bit. Glasses that are wide will hold more liquid at the one-finger mark than narrow glasses, and vice versa.
The size of your fingers will also change the amount of alcohol or other ingredients. However, if you’re in a pinch and you need to keep the ratios of different ingredients correct, using your fingers can work quite well.