Updated at: 28-07-2023 - By: John Lau

Ever found yourself puzzled by the jargon thrown around in liquor stores and bars? You’re not alone. Most of us are familiar with terms like “shots” and “glasses”, but what about a “fifth”?

This blog post will demystify these confusing measurements, specifically focusing on understanding exactly what constitutes a fifth of liquor.

So let’s dive into the intriguing world of spirits without further ado!

What is a Fifth of Liquor?

What Is A Fifth Of Liquor (1)

fifth of liquor is a standard unit of volume used to measure wine and distilled beverages in the United States.

Definition of a fifth of liquor

A “fifth of liquor” refers to a specific volume measurement used predominantly in the United States for distilled beverages like whiskey, vodka, rum, tequila, gin and other spirit drinks.

Holding this term under the microscope reveals that it equals one fifth of a US liquid gallon or more precisely 750 milliliters -the standard size you will notice on most liquor bottles today.

Historically conceived when quart bottles were subdivided into fifths with four-fifths of a quart equaling one-fifth of a gallon, this terminology has stood the test of time and remains widely popular.

Although standardized now at 750 ml to align with international measurements, it’s still colloquially known as a “fifth”.

Whether enjoyed straight up or mixed into cocktails, its estimated capacity can provide around 16 shots assuming each shot glass holds approximately 1.5 ounces or 44 mL.

Standard size of a fifth (750 ml)

A standard size of a fifth of liquor is 750 ml. This measurement, also known as a “fifth,” is commonly used in the United States for bottles of wine and distilled beverages.

It is estimated that a fifth of liquor can provide about 16 shots or cocktails, with each shot being approximately 1.5 ounces or 44 ml.

Vodka, which is considered one of the purest spirits, typically does not contain cholesterol, sodium, yeast, carbs, or fat – it simply consists of water and ethanol.

So when you’re picking up your favorite bottle from the liquor store, keep in mind that a fifth contains around 750 ml of your chosen spirit to enjoy responsibly.

Why is it Called a Fifth of Liquor?

What Is A Fifth Of Liquor (2)

Historical origins of the term

The term “fifth” has its historical origins in the United States, where it was used to measure wine and distilled beverages. The name comes from the fact that these bottles were 4/5 of a quart, which is equivalent to 1/5 of a gallon.

This measurement system dates back to when quarts were further divided into fifths. Although the actual size of a bottle labeled as a fifth may vary today, the term continues to be used in the alcohol industry.

It’s interesting how this historical measurement still influences our understanding of liquor bottle sizes today.

Use of the term in the alcohol industry

The term “fifth” has had a significant impact on the alcohol industry, as it is commonly used to refer to a bottle of liquor.

Despite variations in actual bottle sizes today, the term “fifth” remains widely recognized and understood among consumers.

This familiarity stems from its historical origins when bottles were four-fifths of a quart, which equates to one-fifth of a gallon. The use of this term allows for consistent communication and understanding between producers, retailers, and consumers in the alcohol industry.

So whether you’re looking for whiskey, vodka, rum, tequila, or gin – knowing that the standard size of a fifth is 750 mL will help you make informed decisions when shopping for your favorite spirits.

How Many Shots are in a Fifth?

What Is A Fifth Of Liquor (1)

Determining the number of shots in a fifth is straightforward: a typical fifth contains 750 mL, which equates to approximately 16 shots or cocktails.

Determining the number of shots in a fifth

A fifth of liquor, which is typically 750 mL in size, can provide approximately 16 shots or cocktails. Each shot from a fifth of liquor equals about 1.5 ounces or 44 mL.

However, it’s important to note that the actual number of shots may vary depending on several factors, including individual pouring techniques and glassware sizes.

  1. Pouring Technique: The accuracy and consistency of the person pouring the shots can influence how much liquid is dispensed per shot. A steady hand and careful measuring can help ensure each shot contains the desired amount.
  2. Glassware Size: The size of the glasses used for serving shots can also impact how many shots can be poured from a fifth of liquor. Smaller glasses may allow for more shots, while larger glasses may result in fewer shots.
  3. Personal Preferences: Some individuals prefer stronger or weaker drinks, which can affect the amount poured per shot. Those who like their drinks more diluted might pour smaller shots, resulting in more overall servings.
  4. Mixers and Cocktails: If you plan to mix your liquor with other ingredients to make cocktails, the amount used per drink will likely be higher than for a straight shot. This will reduce the number of individual servings you can get from a fifth.

Factors that may affect the number of shots

Several factors can influence the number of shots you can get from a fifth of liquor. First, it depends on the size of the shot itself. A standard shot is typically 1.5 ounces or 44 mL, so if you pour smaller shots, you’ll be able to get more out of a fifth.

Another factor is how much ice or mixers you use with your shots.

If you dilute the alcohol with larger amounts of other liquids, then naturally, you’ll have fewer shots overall. Additionally, individual pouring habits can also affect the number of shots in a fifth.

Some people may pour heavier shots than others, resulting in fewer total servings from the bottle.

It’s important to keep these factors in mind when planning your consumption to ensure responsible and enjoyable drinking experiences.


In conclusion, a fifth of liquor is a standard size bottle that contains 750 ml. The term “fifth” originates from when bottles were 4/5 of a quart, which equals 1/5 of a gallon.

Although the actual size may vary today, the term “fifth” is still commonly used to refer to a bottle of liquor.

It typically provides around 16 shots or cocktails and can be enjoyed responsibly in accordance with safe drinking guidelines.