How Many Shots In A Fifth (1)

How Many Shots In A Fifth?

Whether you’re looking to make a range of cocktails for a party, or you want to know how many shots you’re going to be able to get out of your bottle before you need to run to the store for another, knowing how many shots there are in a fifth can be an extremely useful piece of knowledge, and one that any drinking enthusiast should be aware of!

Everyone knows that running out of booze at a party is a surefire way to ruin the mood, which is why it’s so important to be aware of how much is in your bottle!

So, if you want to know how many shots are in a fifth, then you’ve come to the right place, as in this guide, we’ll provide you with all of the information you need to know about the number of shots in a fifth, and more!

How Many Shots Are There In A Fifth?

Memorizing how many shots there are in a fifth is actually much easier than you might initially think, and you’ll soon understand why!

A fifth can be used as a measurement for various spirits, such as whiskey, rum, and vodka.

A fifth is actually equal to 750 milliliters, or about 25.36 fluid ounces, which makes it particularly easy to remember because this is the size of most full bottles, so any time you see a 750ml bottle of rum, whiskey, or vodka, you’ll know that it’s a fifth.

When it comes to determining how many shots there are in a fifth, there are some variables, with the most notable being the size of the shot glass used, which can vary from glass to glass.

However, when using a standardized shot glass ( 1 ½ ounces, or 45ml), the amount of shots found in a fifth is roughly equivalent to around 16 shots.

Where Does The Term “Fifth” Come From?

So, now that you know what a fifth looks like, and how many shots you can get from it, you’re probably wondering exactly why it’s called a fifth, so where did this term come from?

It’s actually much more simple than you might expect, and there’s certainly no complex reasoning behind the name “fifth”, so allow us to tell you exactly what it means!

The name “fifth” stems from the fact that 750 milliliters, which is the equivalent of 25.6 fluid ounces, is a fifth of a gallon. A gallon contains 128 fluid ounces, so 25.6 is (roughly) a fifth of this, which is where the name comes from.

How Many Shots In A Fifth (2)

The History Of The Fifth

Prior to the mid-19th century, the capacity of alcohol bottles sold in Britain used for both distilled liquors (as well as wines) was typically a quart, however, the actual capacity of these bottles was known to vary greatly, and was very inconsistent.

So much so, there were actually four different styles that existed, ranging anywhere from 715ml to 1130ml, which was considered an “imperial wine quart”.

Towards the end of the 19th century the liquor that was being sold in the US would be in bottles that would, to the eye, appear to hold a singular US quart, which was equal to 950ml.

However, these bottles actually held less than a quart, and were instead named “fifths”, or sometimes “commercial quarts”.

It was during the same time period when a fifth of a gallon was actually the legal threshold for the difference between selling alcohol by the drink, or by selling it by the bottle (or at wholesale), so the difference between selling alcohol at a saloon or barroom, and selling it at a dry-goods store.

The fifth would then remain the usual size of bottles used for distilled liquors right up until 1980, alongside measurements such as the ⅘ pint, which was known as a tenth. As well as the 1/10 pint.

This all changed after the push for the metrication of U.S. government standards during the 1970s.

This culminated in the Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol, and Firearms and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States cooperating to propose new metric standardized bottles, which would then come into effect in January 1979 and these standardized bottles were then placed into the Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

These new sizes included:

  • 50ml-sized bottle (Known as a miniature or a nip), and is the equivalent of one shot.
  • 100ml size bottle, which is the equivalent of two shots.
  • 200ml size bottle (known as a half pint), is the equivalent of four shots.
  • 375ml size bottle ( known as a pint), is the equivalent of eight shots.
  • 500ml size bottle (This was later discontinued for distilled beverage usage in 1989, but was still used for wine)
  • 750ml size bottle (a fifth, and now the usual size bottle of wine).
  • 1-liter size bottle, which is the equivalent of 22 shots.
  • 1.75-liter size bottle (which is a metric half-gallon, or a handle), which is the equivalent of 39 shots.

If you purchase alcohol regularly, you’ll know that these are still the same bottle sizes that we use today, and it’s unlikely that it will change anytime soon, so you should always memorize how many shots you’re going to be able to get from each bottle if you’re planning on drinking with your friends!


To summarize, there are roughly 16 shots in a fifth, which contains 750ml of alcohol, or 25.6 fluid ounces, and is named after the fact that it contains a fifth of a gallon of alcohol in its bottle.

These size bottles didn’t always exist however, and were a part of the metrication of the bottle sizes that happened back in the 1970s, coming into effect fully in 1979, which is still in effect today!

We hope you’ve found this guide to fifths and various other measurements helpful, thanks for reading!

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