Knowing how many shots are in a bottle of liquor will help you stock a bar. It's especially useful when planning a party so you don't run out of drinks. A few charts can take the guesswork out of estimating how much liquor (as well as any mixers) you need to make the drinks you intend to serve.
The Average Cocktail Pour
How many cocktails you can make with one bottle of liquor will vary from drink to drink. When estimating your needs, it's helpful to know that the average cocktail uses:
- The base liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, etc.) is often a standard shot of 1 1/2 ounces.
- Liqueurs are typically poured between 1/2 ounce and 3/4 ounce.
- Accent juices, such as lemon and lime, usually use 1/4 ounce to 1/2 ounce.
- Filling a highball or tall drink with juice or soda often requires 4 to 6 ounces.
Liquor Shots per Bottle
The most popular bottle size is the fifth, which holds 750 milliliters or 25.4 ounces. It is commonly used for distilled spirits as well as wines. Some liquors are also available in pints or liters and many brands produce miniature bottles as well. The largest sizes (magnums and handles) are extremely rare, so don't expect to find the majority of liquors in those bottles.
The chart represents popular bottle sizes in both metric and U.S. measurements and the average number of standard 1 1/2-ounce shots each will produce.
|How Many Shots Are in a Bottle?|
|Bottle||Milliliters||Ounces||Shots per Bottle|
|Miniature (aka Mini or Nip)||50 ml||1.7 oz||1 shot|
|Quarter Pint||100 ml||3.4 oz||2 shots|
|Half Pint||200 ml||6.8 oz||4 shots|
|Pint||375 ml||12.7 oz||8 shots|
|Standard Bottle (aka Fifth)||750 ml||25.4 oz||16 shots|
|Liter||1 L||33.8 oz||22 shots|
|Magnum||1.5 L||50.7 oz||33 shots|
|Half Gallon (aka Handle)||1.75 L||59.2 oz||39 shots|
|Double Magnum (aka Jeroboam)||3 L||101.4 oz||67 shots|
|Rehoboam||4.5 L||152.2 oz||101 shots|
Estimating Mixer Yields
Mixers such as juices, syrups, and sodas are not quite as easy to estimate because there are no standard bottle sizes. However, mixers are less expensive than liquor, so it's always a good idea to overstock rather than be unprepared and run out.
The next chart includes the average pour of a mixer if it is included in a cocktail recipe. Not every drink is going to use each type of mixer and some use more or less than others, so this is just a general guide.
For instance, you may be mixing a cosmopolitan that requires 1/2 ounce of lime juice, but if you offer a whiskey sour, you might need a full 1 1/2 ounces of lemon juice. Similarly, tall drinks like a gin and tonic require 4 or more ounces of soda to fill the glass while a booze-filled highball like the Long Island iced tea may need just 1 ounce of cola or less.
|Mixers in the Average Cocktail|
|Drink Style||Accent Juice||Syrup||Soda|
|Martinis, Sours, & Short Drinks||1/4–1/2 oz||1/4–1/2 oz||Splash|
|Highballs, Collins, & Tall Drinks||Splash–1/2 oz||1/4–1/2 oz||4–6 oz|
The average soda bottle or can is 12 ounces, so estimate two to three drinks per container. Two-liter bottles are a cost-effective option for the more popular sodas and there are about 67 ounces per 2 liters.
Other mixers like bitters are easy. One bottle of each required style will be more than enough (even lasting many home bartenders years).
Fresh Citrus Fruit Juice
If you are going to use fresh citrus juice, this chart will help you decide how many pieces of fruit you will need. Keep in mind that lemon and lime juices are often accents while orange and grapefruit juices may require 3 or more ounces per drink. Either way, you'll get about two or three drinks per piece of fruit.
|Fresh Citrus Fruit Yields|
|1 Average-Sized Fruit||Average Juice Yield|
|Lemon||1 1/2 oz|
There are a couple of tricks to maximizing the juice yield of citrus fruits. First, let the fruits reach room temperature if you store them in the refrigerator. Then, before cutting the fruit open, roll it between the palm of your hand and the cutting board, pressing firmly but not enough to squash the fruit.
Juiced fruit will not be usable for garnishes. Have extra produce on hand to cut wheels, wedges, and twists for your drinks. Garnishes can be prepared ahead of time; store sliced fruits in sealed containers and peels or twists in ice-cold water to keep them fresh.
An Example Stock for a Party
When you determine the recipes you intend to serve, you can estimate how many bottles of each liquor are needed to create a certain number of drinks. As an example, let's say that you're hosting a party for 20 guests with a limited drink menu, so you might serve as many as 80 drinks.
Since you can get about 16 drinks from one standard 750 milliliter bottle of liquor, you will need a minimum of five bottles. If your cocktail recipes call for them, you will also need at least 40 ounces (or 5 cups) of accent juices and syrup. For soda, it's best to go big to account for the highballs and stock the equivalent of seven 2-liter bottles. Adding more soda and juice to your stock also ensures you'll have plenty of nonalcoholic drink options.