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The History of Shot Glasses

Shot glasses are unique from other personalized drinking glasses available today since a person doesn’t often find themselves holding on to one or sipping it for very long. Some would argue that it is possibly the hardest working of all customized drink glasses since the shot glass values function over form at a high level. Have you ever wondered about the history behind these small glasses?

The first mention of the term shot glass can be found in the New York Times during the 1940s. Even though the New York Times articles are the first mentions of shot glasses, shot glasses as we know them today were used extensively throughout American towns throughout the 1930s.

So where does the term shot glass come from? Well, “shot” can mean powerful, or be referring to medicine, as in receiving a shot of medicine.

Some origins say that a small glass would be left on dinner tables in early America in which guests could place the lead shot or buckshot that may still be in their meals and that this is where the shot glass derives its name from.

Yet another origin story holds that Friedrich Otto Schott, the co-founder of the glassworks factory Jenaer Glaswerk Schott & Genossen invented the glass. However, when the glass came to America it was “Americanized” with the moniker Shot Glass instead of Schott Glas.

The amount of spirits a person receives in a shot glass varies by country, from as little as 20 mL to 60 mL. (The US lands somewhere in the middle since our traditional 1.5 US fl oz equals about 44 mL)

In the United States there is no actual standard set forth by the government stating how much a shot needs to be, except in Utah where a shot is defined as 1.5 fl oz. Throughout the country however, the traditional shot glass serves 1.25 - 1.5 fl oz.

Yet another origin of the shot glass tells a story of the original shot glass being used to hold quill pens. According to legend, the original shot glass was invented over 100 years ago and was a small, thick walled glass commonly found on writing desks, filled with lead shot. When your trusty feather writing quill was not in use, it would be stored upright in the lead filled shot glass.

In Brazil, a shot is called a dose.

I jigger is a tool used to measure liquid at a bar. It is named after the unit of liquid it measures as some areas refer to shots as jiggers. Jiggers are typically made from stainless steel and measure 1.5 fl oz in the US.

If you’re looking for more on shot glasses, or are looking for personalized shot glasses, make sure you check out Glass With a Twist’s wide variety of shot glasses that can be customized for any occasion. Call or click today to find out more.